A Matter of Perspective

Sunrise along the waterfront in Belhaven, North Carolina

One of the more recent additions to Lightroom is the “Transform” function, in particular the perspective correction tool.  I find myself making use of this tool a lot, as it “corrects” photos where I’m forced to shoot from an angle – side to side and up to down – and making them look normal.  I don’t generally use it to “cheat” but rather I like to use it when I don’t have a choice about where to stand.

Sunrise along the waterfront in Belhaven, North Carolina

I’ve been going back through some old unprocessed photos and came across a group of sunrise photos from 2010 in Belhaven, North Carolina.  One of the distinguishing features of the harbor in Belhaven is a break wall that separates the harbor from the larger Pungo River.  The break wall is a well-recognized landmark of this area, but the problem I always have with it is that it doesn’t run perpendicular to the places I photograph from.  As a result, there is always a perspective mismatch between the horizon line and the line of the breakwall.  They never looked right when I processed them, so I’ve always been hesitant to use them for anything.  Until now.

Sunrise along the waterfront in Belhaven, North Carolina

Looking at this photos, I wondered if the perspective correction in Lightroom could be used to “fix” the position of the breakwall so it looked “right” in my photos.  Lo and behold, it does!  There is a little bit of falloff in focus in the areas that are actually father away, but it’s hardly noticeable.  And yes, I could have done this a long time ago in Photoshop.  But that misses my point.  And of course, someone who lives there and is used to the view would likely recognize the change immediately.  But for most folks, they wouldn’t notice the difference.

I’ve attached a couple of photos as examples, including one “before & after composite.  I think it turns a photo that never looked quite right into one that looks pretty good for all but the pickiest few among us.  And chances are they don’t read this blog! 🙂

before-after

6 thoughts on “A Matter of Perspective”

  1. I enjoyed these pictures transformed. Learning all the tricks of the trade as I am sharing with my granddaughter who has the photography bug. Thanks for sharing !

    1. You let me know if you or she has any questions about this stuff. I’m not exactly the genius on but I do know my way around Lightroom. You know where to find me (usually!).

  2. Lightroom has become more and more sophisticated over the years and I like the progression that it takes. If I have a complaint it’s that it consumes a lot of system resources and my 5 year old Dell has trouble keeping up.

    1. I completely agree, Ken. My current computer is 6 years old and was home built by me and my son with the intention of running OSX. The intricacies of maintaining a Hackintosh proved to be well beyond my limited capabilities. We converted it to Windows a few years ago, but it wasn’t ideally suited to be a Windows machine from the start and is now showing its age. We’re currently looking at building a new system with the proper hardware to – hopefully – run Lightroom and Photoshop for a few more years.

  3. Yes, I’m learning to use the transform tool. Most of my situations are street scenes where I have a difficult angle to deal with. Just need to make sure it does not make me lazy with the mindset I change it later in Lightroom.

    1. I do need to be selective about when and how I use it. I don’t want all of my buildings to look perfectly square, after all! But it is nice to know that I can fix it when it is appropriate to do so.

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