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Removing Distortions with the Adaptive Wide Angle Filter in Photoshop CS6

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Photoshop CS6 offers improvements across the full spectrum of photographic workflows. In this article, Dan Moughamian discusses the Adaptive Wide Angle (AWA) filter, which you can use to modify the different types of lens distortions (like a fisheye distortion) that may be present in your pictures.

Photoshop CS6 offers improvements across the full spectrum of photographic workflows. Examples include raw tone mapping, more accurate Color Range selections, improved content-aware retouching tools, and a new type of lens filter called Adaptive Wide Angle, which is the focus of this article.

Using the Adaptive Wide Angle (AWA) filter, you can modify the different types of lens distortions (like a fisheye distortion) that may be present in your pictures. For me, the most useful aspect of this filter is that it can be used to greatly reduce the impact of geometric distortions in wide-angle photographs.

It’s important to keep in mind that the edits you make with this filter often involve a trade-off between flattening the image to a greater degree, and losing content at the edges of the frame. Ultimately how far you take the correction is matter of your creative vision for the photo. In this example I take the correction to the extreme, so that you can see the power of the filter.

Quick Setup Tips

Before we get to the new filter, it can be helpful to start your workflow in ACR 7 using a wide angle test image. This allows you to experiment freely. Handle the raw edits as you normally would, using the Basic and Detail panels to optimize the exposure, contrast, detail and noise levels.

Step 1

If you decide to apply a Lens Profile Correction in the Lens Corrections panel to remove fall-off in the corners of the frame or chromatic aberration, you can do that. That said, I try to avoid applying any type of geometric corrections -- especially corrections from the Manual tab (Figure 1). Adding manual transformations to the photo in advance of using AWA can make the results less predictable.

Figure 1: If you apply an ACR Lens Profile Correction in advance of using the Adaptive Wide Angle filter, avoid transform corrections if you can.

This shot was taken at a focal length of 12mm, making it a good candidate for AWA. The subject matter also makes it a good choice because there are plenty of visual references for creating horizontal and vertical constraints. You’ll learn what a constraint is in just a minute, but for now, notice how the columns at left are bowed outward, and notice how parts of the walkways are distorted (beyond the curves that are part of the architect’s design). Even the ceiling tiles are somewhat distorted.

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