Using extreme angles and viewpoints can produce striking pictures of buildings. But if you tilt the camera it can look like the building is about to topple over backwards. This effect is called converging verticals.
The solution to fixing converging verticals is simple in theory: all you need to do is keep the camera exactly upright, but this usually means moving further away from the building, and this isn’t always easy or even possible.
One solution is to try moving to one side and shooting at an angle. A more angled viewpoint will reduce the apparent width of the building, and can make it possible to turn the camera into an upright format. This increases the height that you can include in your shot, allowing you to keep the back of the camera exactly vertical.
If all else fails, many DSLRs now have in-camera editing options that include a perspective adjustment. You should still try to get your shot as close as possible to vertical, as any adjustments will reduce the resolution of your final image.
Step-by-step how to fix converging verticals in-camera
01 Choose your viewpoint
To include the whole building without tilting the camera or using an extreme wide-angle lens you’ll a viewpoint some distance away. If you can’t get far enough away straight in front of the building, consider shooting from one side to allow you to use an upright format.
02 Get it level
Once you have decided on the basic viewpoint, the best way to avoid converging verticals is to make sure that the camera is level. Many models have a Virtual Horizon for getting the camera horizontal, but you’ll need a spirit level to check it isn’t tilted back or forward.
03 Frame the building
With the camera level, choose the focal length you need to get the whole building in the shot. If there are leading lines or foreground interest to use, try including it in the shot. If the foreground is uninteresting, you can crop the image later on to improve the composition.
04 Check it’s straight
Now you can take your shot, and then review the image. To make it easier to check the building is straight, enlarge the image on-screen, then scroll until the edge of the building is close to the edge of the screen. Do the same for the opposite side of the building.
05 Retouch menu
If it’s impossible to include the whole of the building without tilting the camera slightly, you can use the Retouch facility to straighten it. Scroll to the Retouch Menu, then select Perspective Control. Then press OK and choose your image from the thumbnails displayed.
06 Perspective control
This will bring up a display with grid lines to help you straighten the building. To correct converging vertical lines press the top part of the control pad, and watch carefully until the sides of the building line up with either the grid lines or the edge of the screen, then press OK.