You may find that your images are subject to what is called perspective distortion. This is more present in architectural photography or images of buildings. Don’t worry, Lightroom has got you covered. The transform tool was designed specifically to fix this problem.
If you are experiencing another type of distortion in your images, the lens distortion article may be of use to you.
Perspective distortion comes from you not being able to photograph a subject at a level height. You will see this if you photograph a portrait from the floor, looking up at someone. You should never do this, as it distorts the person’s figure. Photograph from their head height instead. You will get a much more pleasant image then.
With buildings, it is almost impossible to photograph at a level height. Either the top or bottom of the building will warp away from the camera. And if you manage to find yourself level in the middle, the top and the bottom will warp. You need to stand further back to cut down this distortion.
On a simpler note, the top of a building looks distorted because it is further away from you than the bottom of the structure. The lens further embellishes this perspective distortion, making it very obvious. The human eyes do a great job of fixing this parallax error.
How to Use the Transform Tool
First, choose an image where the top of the building seems to fall away from you. For this tutorial, I have chosen this image of the Eiffel Tower.
Open the image in Lightroom. Now head on over to the Develop module and make sure you have the image selected.
Scrolling through the adjustments panel on the right will bring you towards the bottom. There you will find the Transform panel.
Here, you can choose to edit the image manually, or you can choose to complete this task automatically first, with some fine-tuning afterwards.
Click on the Guided Upright Tool. The button looks like a # symbol.
When you click on the button, you will see a crosshair and a magnification box follow your mouse.
The idea here is that you create four lines that the tool will use as a guideline to straighten the perspective.
Click on the top area of your structure and drag down, keeping a straight, vertical line towards the bottom.
Release the mouse button to create the line.
Do the same on the opposite side. Click and drag down to create the line
As soon as you release the second time, Lightroom will create a straighter image.
You can tweak the placement of the boxes to straighten the line if you missed it the first time.
A side-effect of this transform tool is possible white areas in your image. If you are working downwards, the white areas are going to pop-up at the bottom. That area becomes squashed.
These parts need to be cropped out of your final image. Head to the top of the adjustment panel on the right.
Click on the crop tool.
Here, you will be presented with a grid. Make sure to uncheck Constrain To Image. That will crop your entire image relative to its ratio.
Click and drag the left and right grid boxes.
Drag these boxes into the image, cutting out the white areas. You need to do each side at a time.
Press Enter, and there you have it. Your structure will look more natural.