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Using Upright to Automatically Fix Lens Problems

This is one of the best features Adobe has added to Camera Raw in the past few years, and it keeps getting better as they roll out more CC updates. Essentially, Upright takes the automated lens correction process you started by enabling the lens correction, and it takes it up a big notch. But, don’t worry—you just turn it on—it does all the heavy lifting.

Step One:

Here’s a wide-angle image taken at 14mm, and you can see the problem—the interior of the building, columns, etc., are leaning back (it’s larger at the bottom and narrower at the top). Luckily, fixing this type of stuff is just a couple of clicks away. Start by clicking on the Lens Corrections icon (the sixth one from the left) at the top of the Panel area, then click on the Profile tab, and turn on the Enable Profile Corrections checkbox (the Upright feature works better with this turned on first). The auto profile correction is already applied to the image here, but if you toggle this checkbox off/on, you’ll see it’s a pretty subtle correction at this point—it removed some vignetting in the corners, along with some of the barrel distortion (if you need to remove more distortion, click on the Manual tab and drag the Distortion slider to the right).

Step Two:

To get to the Upright controls click on the Transform tool in the toolbar, which brings up the Transform panel on the right. The one-click Upright auto corrections are in a row across the top. About 90% of the time, I just click on the “A” (Auto) button, as it usually gives the most natural-looking, balanced correction (as seen here. It’s not perfect and, in fact, it might have over-corrected a bit, but it’s fairly close). The other 10% of the time, I click on the one to the right, Level, which is simply an auto-straighten correction that works well (it’s not 100%, though).

Step Three:

By the way, I rarely use the next two Upright options—Vertical and Full—because, to me, their corrections seem “too legalistic” and unnatural-looking for the most part. Usually, just clicking that Auto button is all I need to do. But, in this case, it seemed like it over-corrected a bit, and the bottom of the columns now look smaller than the top (see Step Two). So, I dragged the Vertical slider over to the right to +18 (as seen here) to make it look more balanced.

Step Four:

If there’s anything else you need to tweak, use the sliders here in the Transform panel. If you’re not sure what an individual slider does: (1) look at the icons to the left and right of the slider (it gives you a visual cue), then (2) simply drag the slider back and forth, and you’ll instantly see the effect it has on your image (this works better than it sounds). When I took this shot, I wasn’t perfectly centered with the scene, so I dragged the Horizontal slider just a little to the left (to –5) to flatten the perspective out a bit more. Again, you probably won’t have to do this, but I thought I’d show you, just in case you run into stuff like this (and you will here and there). By the way, while we’re here, the Aspect slider is pretty handy. If, after you drag one of these sliders, the image looks like it has been stretched upward and looks “too skinny,” the Aspect slider will widen it out (and vice versa if it looks too wide).


Step Five:

Now, we need to crop away those blank areas that our correction left. We can have Camera Raw keep as much of the image intact as possible by clicking on the Crop tool in the toolbar, and choosing Constrain to Image (as shown here). Now, when we drag out the Crop tool, it will automatically snap to where we can crop without including any missing areas. You can see here how it automatically resized the crop to keep as much of the image as possible, but you can also see that we’re losing a lot of the tile floor, so we’ll look at another option. Note: We’re not looking at the last Upright option—Guided—here because I cover it in the next technique, and I have to say, it’s pretty awesome—definitely worth learning.

Step Six:

The other cropping option (and the one that I would probably go with for this image because we lost so much of the floor when using Constrain to Image) is to turn Constrain to Image off and, instead, drag the cropping border out to crop the blank areas on top, but leave the blank areas in the bottom corners. We’ll try filling them in using Content-Aware Fill (see Chapter 9 for more). Now, click the Open Image button, get the Magic Wand tool (Shift-W), and click in those two blank areas in the bottom corners to select them. Then, go under the Select menu, under Modify, chose Expand, and entered 4 pixels to help Photoshop make a better “fill.” Next, chose Fill from the Edit menu, then choose Content-Aware from the Contents pop-up menu, and click OK. It did a pretty good job here, except for on the right, where it duplicated the fire extinguisher. But, that’s easy enough to clone out, using the Clone Stamp tool (S; I ended up cloning out both, as seen in the After image on the next page. But, it’s not an awesome clone job, so don’t look too close).

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