Photoshop wizard Martin Evening shows you how to correct keystone distortion in your images

Photo editing masterclass - How to correct keystone distortion - Brian Stoddart (Before)

Before

Brian Stoddart photographed this derelict gas station on Route 6/191 in Utah, USA. This image is pure Americana, featuring a classic US mailbox, a Coca-Cola sign and ’50s-style garage forecourt. It therefore suited a cinematic crop and strong colour-contrast treatment. The main problem here, though, was the keystone distortion. I was easily able to correct this by applying a Camera Raw Auto Upright adjustment.

Photo editing masterclass - How to correct keystone distortion - Brian Stoddart (After)

After

1. Crop and transform the image

The first step was to apply a Lens Profile Correction to overcome the slight lens barrel distortion. I then selected the Transform tool and applied an Auto Upright adjustment to correct the keystone effect in this photograph and cropped the top part of the image.

Photo editing masterclass - How to correct keystone distortion - Brian Stoddart 1

2. Apply Basic panel adjustments

In the Basic panel, I lightened the Exposure and adjusted the remaining tone sliders to optimise the tone contrast, adding some Clarity and Vibrance. In the Tone Curve panel I applied a Curves adjustment that added a kick to the midtone to highlight contrast.

Photo editing masterclass - How to correct keystone distortion Brian Stoddart 2

3. HSL panel adjustments

In this step I went to the HSL panel, where I adjusted the Luminosity sliders to darken the blue sky and lighten the yellows and greens. At the same time, I went to the Saturation tab and reduced the blue saturation slightly. Finally, I added a Radial Filter adjustment to lighten the gas station.

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Keystone corrections

Whenever you tilt the camera upwards to take a photograph, this can result in what is known as keystone distortion, where the vertical lines converge. This will be particularly noticeable when you photograph architectural subjects or shoot using a wideangle lens.

One way to overcome this is to use a special tilt-and-shift lens, but it is also possible to correct it using the Transform adjustment tools in Camera Raw and Lightroom. However, a photograph can look odd if you aim to completely correct for keystone distortion.

In the example shown here, I applied a Transform adjustment that allowed the verticals to converge slightly.

Photo editing masterclass - How to correct keystone distortion

Left: Before; Right: After