Thursday, May 31, 2012

Leaning Over Backwards (including color photos!)

Photographic truth:  if you take a photo of a building with a wide-angle lens and point that lens up a bit to "get all of it in" then your final photo will have the building look as if it's falling over backwards.

Not only that, but I, personally, have a problem wherein I tend to take photos with the left side of the camera down, i.e., my photos many times lean to the right.

I have wondered why a third of my photos lean to the right because I have the left side of the camera too low when I press the shutter.  All I can come up with is that I'm left-eyed.  Cameras are obviously made for right-handed people, and most right-handed people are right-eyed, BUT, I AM right-handed and LEFT-EYED.  My massive cranium is in a different position than a right-eyed person looking through the viewfinder.  I think this allows me to perceive that my horizons are level when they aren't.

All I can do about that is to continue to remind myself to watch my leveling when I take pictures.  (I've read that many real photographers hate the phrase "taking pictures" and prefer to say "making photographs," but that's how most people say it, and they know what you mean by "taking pictures"  and I feel pretentious when I make myself say "making photographs."  I blame my Louisiana public school upbringing. Rant over.)

 Anyway, back to the subject of wide angle photos of buildings resulting in the leaning-backwards look.

Here's a photo of mine from last week that exhibits both of the problems I've mentioned; the wide-angle leaning-back look, and also my personal issue of dropping the left side of the camera.

Historic Pritchard House, Titusville, Florida.
See?  The house leans back because of the wide angle lens pointed a bit upward, and leans to the right because I have trouble keeping my camera straight.  This how the photo looks just off of the camera, except for the border and copyright notice I added.

But most modern digital photo manipulation programs, I currently use Photoshop Elements 9 (thanks Big Sis!!), have a "perspective correction" set of tools to correct the leaning back issue, and I used these perspective correction tools to repair the back lean in this photograph.   I also used these tools in this case to level the photo from my leaning of the camera.  (There's an easier leveling tool to us in Elements, but since I was already using the perspective control tools, I chose to rotate and level the photo there instead of the other leveling tool. I use as few tools and steps as I can to fix any problems.)

Here is a screen capture of my work on this photograph within Photoshop Elements 9:

Adjusting the perspective (and leveling) to correct this image.
You'll notice that the photo itself is now all kinds of bent and twisted, no longer a neat rectangle.  But the grid lines, along with the various sliders there on the right allowed me to level and rotate the house and "tip the house toward me" so that the vertical lines on the edges of the home are straight up and down, correcting the leaning-back look.  Notice that the image now looks as if I had a print of it in front of me and leaned it toward me until the house no longer leaned back.

Then I just had to crop the photo back into a rectangle, losing a bit of the photo all the way around, put my border and copyright on it, and save it in it's new and improved (to me) form, here:

New and improved photo of the Pritchard House.

So along with getting into the habit of making sure all my photos are level, I need to learn to leave more room around my main subject to allow for a little cropping after using the perspective correction tool.

Making those two corrections in my photo taking, and getting better with my computer "darkroom" skills, will make life easier when wanting to corrects an age old problem in photography, the leaning-backwards building.

In all the years I shot photos on slide and print film, the leaning-backward building was just a part of life.

Yet another reason I love modern digital cameras and our digital darkrooms on our computers!


Marsha said...

Does Elements 10 have this? Where could I find it?


good image....very well done