Free Photography Tutorials, Beginners to Advanced

Straightening Horizons & Verticals - Part 1

As any regular visitors to the members' photo gallery will tell you, one of my pet hates is tilting horizons. Although it is easily done in the heat of the moment when you are taking a photo, there is no excuse for not straightening the picture at the editing stage as it is very easy to do.

Straightening Horizons Straightening Horizons
In the photo above you can see that I was so engrossed with getting the ape right I missed the sloping horizon.

All that needs to be done is select the crop tool crop tool icon from the toolbox and draw a thin rectangle over the horizon.

If you move the cursor outside the selection marquee and put it near a corner, you will see that the cursor changes to a double ended arrow bent round a corner. When you click and drag with this cursor the rectangle will rotate about the center. By rotating the selection and moving it, which you can do by clicking and dragging anywhere inside the marquee, you can line it up over the horizon as you can see above.
Straightening Horizons Straightening Horizons
Being careful not to change the rotation, extend the sides of the selection to cover the area you want to keep. Press enter and your picture will be cropped and straightened. Doing it this way means that you do lose a bit of the picture, which is usually not a bad thing. In part two there is a different technique which you can use to straighten a picture while only losing a minimal amount.
Straightening Horizons Straightening Horizons
Straightening Horizons Straightening Horizons
Of course you can straighten anything using this technique not just horizons. Here's another series showing how to straighten up this still life. The same principle applies as above, get as close as you can to the uprights that you want to line up to. You can see in the second picture that the bottle is actually wider at the top than it is at the bottom, this is a perspective effect caused by pointing the camera slightly downwards, the opposite happens when you point the camera upwards as you will see in part two.

Also in the second part of this tutorial you will see how you can straighten the uprights if you want to, but in this instance I don't really think it would be a good idea. So here, instead of lining up exactly to one side of the bottle, we take an average line between the two converging sides.

If you're not sure if your horizon or upright is straight or not, you can always check you can always check by dragging a guide from the ruler at the top or side of the picture. See how on the next page.

Other tutorials in this section

Photo Editing

Introduction page.

camera icon

Scaling your files.

camera icon

Balancing those pixels.

camera icon camera icon

Dealing with color casts.

camera icon camera icon
Processing RAW Files

An introduction to Adobe Camera RAW.

camera icon camera icon
Processing RAW Files using HSL

Advanced use of Adobe Camera RAW.

camera icon camera icon camera icon

Using the unsharp mask.

camera icon camera icon
Using the Quick Mask

Masking parts of your picture to edit certain areas.

camera icon camera icon
Adjustment Layer Masks

How to build accurate layer masks.

camera icon camera icon camera icon
Straightening Horizons

A must for landscape and building photographers.

camera icon camera icon
Replacing Boring Skies

Using layers in Photoshop.

camera icon camera icon
Using the Channel Mixer

How to make a better job of changing images from color to black & white.

camera icon camera icon
Using Curves on Adjustment Layers

Playing with contrast and tones to give a more dramatic effect.

camera icon camera icon camera icon
High Dynamic Range

How to shoot and process HDR pictures with Photomatix Pro software.

camera icon camera icon camera icon
Back to the main 'Photography Tutorials' page
Learn Digital Photography with Geoff Lawrence eBook

If you enjoyed this page you might
be interested in my eBook
Learn Photography with Geoff Lawrence