When we look up at the facade of a building, we are used to seeing the higher parts smaller than the areas below. The camera sees it the same way. We don’t think anything is distorted. That’s just the way light – and perspective views – work.
When we see a photo of a whole building that shows similar narrowing at the top, it appears to us as distorted. Some call it the “falling-over building syndrome”. Such photos are just not very satisfying.
What can you do?
First, understand that perspective “distortion” is not caused by your lens, it comes from the geometry of the situation. Parts of the building closer to you look bigger, to you and your camera. Parts farther away or farther up will look smaller. This happens in proportion to the distances involved. A window, say on an upper floor might be twice as far from you as one that is close and at ground level. That upper window will look half the size. Reduce the distance proportion and the perspective will not be as exaggerated. Back off!
Here is the same hospital photographed from farther away. Still nowhere near perfect, but much better that the other photo. So, back off, and the perspective will be better. Back off more and it gets better still. But there is more that you can do.
Here is the trick to use:
Level your camera so that the sensor plane is parallel to the vertical plane of the building. Yes, that means that the horizon has to go smack through the center of the frame. Not the best for dynamic composition, but cropping can correct that.
Here is a photo with the camera essentially level. Note how the far building looks perfectly acceptable. Why is that? You might ask. If you looked at the geometry, you’d see that inside the camera the distance between the sensor and the “center” of the lens at the top or bottom part of the image is larger than the distance at the center. And so are the distances to the center and top part of the actual situation. They are in fact proportional, and that makes for the “perfect perspective correction”. You can draw out the light rays and the optical paths, but just try it to convince yourself that this is the approach for good building photography.
The photo as it was taken, full frame on the left. A cropped part on the right. If you don’t want to crop and have money to burn, buy a shift lens. To tell the truth, this post was inspired by a question asked over in Ask Ludwig, How does a tilt-shift lens correct perspective distortion?
Yes, you can make corrections in post-pocessing
Just about any photo editor offers a way to adjust perspective. Here is the second hospital photo with such correction applied using the ON1 Photo RAW editor.
I like to leave just a little bit of that distortion when making the corrections in post-processing. I think photos look just a little more natural that way. I did not crop the photo after the perspective adjustment to let you see how the image was squeezed together at the bottom (the editor lets the sides at the top fall out of the frame).
So there you have it. No more “building falling-over syndrome” – three ways to make the photo look real and professional: Back away from your subject, level the camera (horizon in the middle), and use the perspective adjustment tool in your editor.
.:. © 2022 Ludwig Keck
It started innocently enough. I went out to get the newspaper. As I walked back to the house, I noticed some fresh blossoms on one of our azaleas. That bush always blooms early. This year it started before the last freeze and the early blooms were frozen and shriveled up. Now some fresh color was showing. A few raindrops stuck to the petals, and they looked pretty in the morning sun. I pulled out my phone and took a couple of photos.
Back in the house I loaded my images into ON1 Photo RAW 2022. Sure enough, it showed the red channel smashing up against the right side indicating serious overexpose. Not uncommon, red, pink, yellow flowers quite often yield overexposure.
I decided to just skip over these photos, but it bothered me. Later on, I decided to use the “big camera” to take some photos at various compensation levels to demonstrate this frequent problem.
Looking at the information on the camera showed the results: With normal exposure the blossom was overexposed in the red channel, just as expected. One stop underexposure showed a full range of data within the histogram window.
Once loaded into the image editor the results were pretty much the same. I also loaded the raw image file into other post-processing apps.
Then the fun began
The results were different in each editor. See my lament over in This ‘n That. What was astonishing and perplexing was that PaintShop Pro found just a tiny bit of overexposure, and a nice “little hill” of red data on the high end.
A perfectly usable image. How PSP translated the Nikon NEF file in a very useful manner, I don’t know. That may become a topic for a future investigation.
The processed image is not a masterful flower photograph, so you won’t find it in my gallery blog. Here it is:
Notice how the petals seem cleaner and not “blown out” like they are in the screen capture above – not the same photo, but the other photo editors showed the photo similarly deteriorated.
Since I spent a good deal of time on this photo, I will add it to CMMC, Cee’s Midweek Madness Challenge – Close Up or Macro. Might as well go ahead and add it to her FOTD – Flower of the Day Challenge as well. Maybe a more experienced flower photographer can shed some light on this quandary.
.:. © 2022 Ludwig Keck
“New Re-entry technique”
Facebook reminded me of an old zip-line photo, so I decided to tackle a more difficult issue. New re-entry technique. Space tourism will never be the same again!
… and my new version
… and another shot from the save event – totally unchanged and full frame.
.:. © 2022 Ludwig Keck
There are hawks in our neighborhood and one of them likes to visit around our house. Managed to catch lunch on a couple occasions that I witnessed with the camera. The last time I took 44 exposures. Some better than others. Here is one that I played around with in black and white.
This one is a tight crop and the same image as the other one.
For a similar close-up crop see my post from way back in 2014: Hawk
.:. © 2022 Ludwig Keck
Our Bridge in Peachtree Corners
Just four months ago I took some photos around “our bridge”. I shared some of these photos, but a number of them I just post-processed for the first time. So let’s just take a look.
What’dya know, the new WordPress editor does not seem to allow re-arranging the order of the images in a tiled gallery the old-fashioned way. Now each image is a “block” and re-arranging requires “walking the block” with the <> icons.
I could not even type here after a short break. Had to start with a new paragraph. That does not forbode well.
.:. © 2021 Ludwig Keck