Dealing with lens distortion using wide angle primes.

I’m travelling to New Orleans at the end of the month so I wanted to practice up on some stills. I set a challenge to go out in my neighbourhood and photograph anything that caught my eye with a focus on buildings and perspective with wide angle lenses. In New Orleans, I know I will most likely be shooting all the great facades and beautiful architecture in tight streets and hence the need for using wide angle lenses. Architecture, with straight lines, perspective and wide lenses leads to tons of lens distortion.

However, I didn’t want to do this in Toronto because I know how difficult it is to find inspiration where you live since you see the same things everyday. So, it takes real effort to open your eyes and “see” something differently from what you take for granted everyday. I limited myself to within a few blocks of where I live and here is what I made with the intention of shooting geometry that would need to be heavily corrected in photoshop.

I used my Fuji X-Pro1 and a 14mm and 18mm wide angle lens. On this size sensor that is about a 20 and 27 respectively. All photos were corrected with the lens distortion filter in photoshop. I took out marginal barrel distortion and vertical lines distortion.

TIP: Always shoot a bit wider if you are doing architecture because using lens correction can crop your images up to 15%!

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Before with no correction.

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After. The building on the left edge of frame no longer converges inwards.

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Here I cropped the image to a square. The rail lines needed no correction.

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The centre columns of the bridge were heavily skewed. I straightened them up with the lens distortion filter in CS5.

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Before. The building appears to be falling backward and leaning right.

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After. You have to be careful to not overcorrect the “lean” or it will appear wrong.

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Before. Look at how much lean to the building on the left.

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After. I managed to correct most of the lean

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