Straightening Images in Photoshop -- Part II

Article and Photography by Ron Bigelow

Photoshop CS or Photoshop CS2 Used in this Tutorial

The previous two methods work with images that are in a format such as JPEG, TIFF, or PSD. However, with raw images, there is another option; the image can be straightened in the raw converter at the time of conversion.

Straightening the Image: Raw

Figure 1 shows a raw file that has been opened in a raw converter (Camera Raw). It is easy to see that the shoreline on the far side of the lake is tilted. This is easy to fix using the Straighten tool in the converter.

Figure 1: Image in the Raw Converter
The zoom tool can be used to enlarge the image, if so desired. However, for this image, enlarging the image is not necessary. The Straighten Tool is chosen and is used to draw a line along the bank (see Figure 2).
Figure 2: Applying the Straighten Tool
As soon as the Straighten tool is released, the image is rotated (see Figure 3). Obviously, the entire image is now angled. This is not a problem as the converter will straighten the image during the conversion process. The converter will also automatically crop the image. At this point, if it is desired to undo the rotation of the image, simply select the Crop tool, right click the mouse, and select Clear Crop. The image will be returned to its original state.
Figure 3: Image after Application of the Straighten Tool
 Clicking OK closes the dialog box and reveals the corrected image (see Figure 4).
Figure 4: Corrected Image

Which Method is Best

Inevitably, the question will come up, "Which method is best?" The answer to such questions is almost always, "It depends". It depends on ones priorities. For me, this is a rather straightforward issue; image quality is almost always my first priority. With that priority in mind, straightening images in the raw converter is my first choice. In general, manipulation of images in raw converters produces less image degradation than manipulation of images in image editing programs (the technical reasons for this are out of the scope of this article).

In those cases where it is not possible to straighten an image in a raw converter, and the file has layers, my next choice is to use the Measure tool. This is simply because this method can be used with layered images without any unusual problems (I have had some problems with the Lens Correction filter when used with layered images). If an image does not have any layers, then, the Lens Correction filter will work equally well.

The Lens Correction filter is the best choice if additional corrections need to be made to the image (i.e., barrel distortion, pincushion distortion, vignetting, perspective, or chromatic aberration)

Reminders and General Considerations

In order to get the best quality when straightening images, a few points should be kept in mind.


Straighten Part I