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Guided Upgright: When Camera Raw Needs You to Help a Bit

If you’ve tried the automated Upright corrections and none of them seemed to work quite right for your particular image, you might have to give Camera Raw a hand using a feature called “Guided Upright.” The idea is you manually click-and-drag out straight lines over parts of the image that need to be horizontally and vertically straight. It’ll then know what you’re intending to have straightened, and it applies the correction based on where you place those lines (you can place up to four of them in your image).

Step One:

Here’s our thoroughly messed up image with a pretty major lens distortion problem (taken many years ago with a cheap lens on a moving Gondola, so feel free to mentally insert any other excuses I could have used to justify how bad this looks, here). First, click on the Lens Corrections icon (the fifth icon from the right at the top of the Panel area) and on the Profile tab, turn on the Enable Profile Corrections checkbox (as shown here; Upright auto corrections work better when this is turned on first).

Step Two:

Now, press Shift-T or, if you’re charging by the hour, click on the Transform tool in the toolbar (it’s circled here in red), then click on the last icon on the right (also circled here) in the Upright section. What you’re going to do is drag out two vertical lines to fix the vertical distortion and two horizontal lines to fix the horizontal. When you’re done, the distortion should be gone (and your image won’t look like it’s being pinched or squished, like this one does). We’ll start with the verticals. To keep the building from looking like it’s leaning back, I dragged a line right along the pipe on the far left (you can see the red-dotted line on the right side of the pipe, here). Nothing happens, though, until you drag out the second line. So, I dragged a second vertical line along the pipe on the right side of the windows on the right side of the image (as shown here).

Step Three:

Once I released the mouse button after dragging out the second vertical line, it immediately applied a correction (as seen here). It’s not looking great because it still needs the horizontal correction, and because there are now gaps on either side, but this will all be addressed in just a minute. For now, you’re on the right track.

Step Four:

Let’s now drag out the horizontal lines. You don’t have to click anything or do anything special first because it already knows you’ve dragged out the two verticals—all that’s left for you to do is drag out the horizontals, so it’s all ready to go. Here, I dragged the first line out along the row of windows in the center (see the green-dotted line near the center of the image?). If you look at the previous step, you can see these windows were angled pretty badly, and here they’re corrected. Well, they won’t be completely corrected until you place a second horizontal line across the bottom of the window at the top of image. At that point, it flattens out the building. By the way, these lines are live, so if you need to reposition them (where you placed them doesn’t look exactly right), you can simply click-and-drag them a little in either direction (as shown here) and it will redraw the correction. Or, click on one and hit the Delete (PC: Backspace) key to start over and drag out a new one instead. Your choice.

Step Five:

We still have some gaps, though not as large. This is a case where you have to decide whether you want to give Photoshop’s Content-Aware Fill a shot at filling those gaps, or if you want to simply crop those areas away. Just for fun, I opened the image in Photoshop and tried Content-Aware Fill, even though I knew those gaps were pretty large (see Chapter 9 for more on using Content-Aware Fill). Let’s just say the results were (ahem…) less than optimal, so we’re going to have to crop this one down to hide those empty areas (by the way, you could crop them down quite a bit, and then let Content-Aware Fill fill much smaller areas, and your chances for success will be much greater. Hey, it’s worth a shot, right? But, just so you know, when I tried this, one side looked okay and the other was…well…still less than optimal, but with a little cloning [okay, a lot of cloning], we could have gotten there. Either way, our best bet here is to crop).

Step Six:

Click-and-hold on the Crop tool up in the toolbar and, from the pop-up menu that appears, choose Constrain to Image (as shown here). When you drag out your cropping border over the entire image it will now “snap” to where your crop is fully inside those gaps. So, when you crop, you’ll have nothing but your image and no gaps.

Step Seven:

Now, take the Crop tool and click in the top-left corner, and then drag it out over the entire image and it will snap to fit (as seen here). To lock in your crop, press the Return (PC: Enter) key, and now you have the corrected image with no gaps on the sides. Take a look at the before and after shown below to compare the two. Also note that while we had to crop away a reasonable amount, it still looks pretty good overall (I ended up cropping it a little more on the left and bottom in the After image).

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