Wide-Angle Correction

The new CS6 version of Photoshop was released about five months ago and has lots of new features.  Now that I’ve had some time to play with them, there are several new features that have become my favorites and can really make a difference in your final photograph.  One of those is the Adaptive Wide-Angle filter (AWAF). The AWAF can help you correct perspective distortions that occur often when using wide-angle lenses.  You have probably seen the wide-angle curvature evident in some of your photos, especially near the edges.  How did the camera bend that building or flag pole?  There is a scientific explanation for how this happens, but let’s concentrate on fixing the problem.

Ruins at Barbourville Vineyards, Charlottesville, Va

This is the manor house ruins at the Barboursville Vineyards, near Charlottesville, Va.  (They make some great wine.)  The original home was designed by Thomas Jefferson.  It was destroyed by fire in 1884.  You can see the columns and main chimney leaning inward.  Even the window on the left is tilted inward.  We need to correct these problems.

Open a copy of the image because this technique is going to warp some pixels.  I make any adjustments (exposure, contrast, color balance, etc.) before I begin using the AWAF.  It’s just my workflow – like all Photoshop fixes, there are several ways you can proceed.  Once that is completed, I create a copy on a new layer.  With the new layer active, go to Filter->Adaptive Wide Angle in the menu, and a new window will open.

CS6 Adaptive Wide Angle FilterPhotoshop reads the EXIF data for your lens, and, if it is in the database, it will put “Auto” in the filter dialog. (red circle)  The program already has a headstart on understanding your lens distortion.   Pretty neat stuff.

The most used tool in this window is the Constraint tool (green circle).  You use it to designate the edges of elements that should be vertical or horizontal.  The warps the perspective of the image.  Here is what happened when I straightened the columns, chimney,  and the window.  I've put rulers over the image to show the now straightened lines.

CS6 Wide Angle Adaptive FilterYou can see how much the changes have warped the original image.  Now you need to crop the image or use the Clone Stamp or Content Aware Fill to fill in pixels.  This is why I do the initial image enhancement prior to AWAF; I want to be able to see the image close to its final form while I'm correcting it.  (Again, this is my way; technically, I don't think the order matters.)

Ruins at Barbourville Vineyards, Charlottesville, VaIn the final version, I got rid of the poles in the foreground and filled in some sky and trees to limit the cropping required.  It took you longer to read this blog than it took me to make the corrections.  Although this was an easy image to work, they aren't all this clean.  It is, however, a great new tool you can find in the newest version of Photoshop CS6.  Give it a try.