How to Correct Camera Distortion in Photoshop Elements - dummies

How to Correct Camera Distortion in Photoshop Elements

By Barbara Obermeier, Ted Padova

If you’ve ever tried to capture a looming skyscraper or cathedral in the lens of your camera, you know that it often involves tilting your camera and putting your neck in an unnatural position. And then, after all that, what you end up with is a distorted view of what was an impressive building in real life, as shown with the before image on the left.

[Credit: ©istockphoto.com/veni]
Credit: ©istockphoto.com/veni

Fortunately, that’s not a problem with Elements. The Correct Camera Distortion filter fixes the distorted perspective created by both vertical and horizontal tilting of the camera. As a bonus, this filter also corrects other kinds of distortions caused by lens snafus.

Here’s how to fix all:

  1. In either Expert or Quick mode, choose Filter→Correct Camera Distortion.

  2. In the Correct Camera Distortion dialog box that appears, select the Preview option.

  3. Specify your correction options:

    • Remove Distortion: Corrects lens barrel, which causes your images to appear spherized or bloated. This distortion can occur when you’re using wide-angle lenses. It also corrects pincushion distortion, which creates images that appear to be pinched in at the center, a flaw that’s found when using telephoto or zoom lenses. Move the slider while keeping an eye on the preview. Use the handy grid as your guide for proper alignment.

    • Vignette Amount: Adjusts the amount of lightening or darkening around the edges of your photo that you can get sometimes from incorrect lens shading. Change the width of the adjustment by specifying a midpoint value. A lower midpoint value affects more of the image. Then move the Amount slider while viewing the preview.

    • Vertical Perspective: Corrects the distorted perspective created by tilting the camera up or down. Again, use the grid to assist in your correction. You can use the vertical perspective to correct Westminster Abbey, as shown i. It was a nice shot as is, but it could use a little tweaking.

    • Horizontal Perspective: Also corrects the distorted perspective. Use the grid to make horizontal lines (real and implied) in your image parallel. For better results, set the angle of movement under the Angle option.

    • Angle: Enables you to rotate the image to compensate for tilting the camera. You may also need to tweak the angle slightly after correcting the vertical or horizontal perspective.

    • Edge Extension Scale: When you correct the perspective on your image, you may be left with blank areas on your canvas. You can scale your image up or down to crop into the image and eliminate these holes. Scaling up results in interpolating your image up to its original pixel dimensions.

      Basically, interpolation means Elements analyzes the colors of the original pixels in your image and creates new ones, which are then added to the existing ones. This often results in less than optimum quality. Therefore, if you do this, be sure to start with an image that has a high-enough pixel dimension, or resolution, to avoid severe degradation.

    • Show Grid: Shows and hides the grid, as needed. You can also choose the color of your grid lines by clicking on the Color option.

    • Zoom Tool: Zooms in and out for your desired view. You can also use plus (+) and minus (–) icons and the Magnification pop-up menu in the bottom-left corner of the window.

    • Hand Tool: Moves you around the image window when you’re zoomed in.

  4. Click OK to apply the correction and close the dialog box.