Do you often find leaning buildings in your architectural photos? The most likely cause of this distortion is shooting a building from too close a distance. When shooting too close, you’ll need to zoom out to a wide-angle focal length, which can result in noticeable barrel distortion, making the top, bottom and sides of a building appear to bow outwards.
You’ll also need to point the camera upwards, which accentuates perspective and makes the sides appear to lean in towards each other towards the top. The solution is to keep your distance so you can use a moderate zoom setting of around 35mm (50mm on a full frame DSLR).
For photographing tall buildings, it’s ideal if you can find a vantage point that’s higher than ground level – another building, for example. You could apply perspective correction when editing – using Photoshop Elements, for example – but you’ll lose part of the frame, so leave plenty of space around the building when shooting.
But then, we all know this isn’t always possible. For those instances when you just can’t shoot it any other way, here is how you can correct distortion on the computer using Photoshop Elements.
How to correct barrel distortion in Photoshop Elements
Step 1: Run the filter
Open your image in Photoshop Elements and make any exposure, colour and sharpening corrections. Head to the Filter pull-down menu and select the Correct Camera Distortion option.
Step 2: Remove distortion
Tick the Show Grid checkbox to make it easier to line up horizontals and verticals, then adjust the Angle control to level the horizon. Use the Remove Distortion slider to cancel out any barrel distortion.
Step 3: Perspective control
Now correct perspective errors using the Vertical Perspective or Horizontal Perspective slider. Don’t use the Edge Extension option, but crop the image afterwards as necessary.