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Adobe Photoshop CS5 : Fixing Problems Caused by Your Camera’s Lens

1/27/2012 3:19:34 PM
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Photoshop CS5 definitely has some overlap with the included Camera Raw 6 that comes with CS5 (and is part of Photoshop), in that you can do a lot of the same things in Photoshop that you can do in Camera Raw. If you shoot in RAW mode on your camera, you’re better off doing things like lens corrections right within Camera Raw , because it’s faster and does less harm to your pixels. However, if for whatever reason, you don’t want to use Camera Raw’s Lens Corrections panel (it works for JPEGs and TIFFs, too. Hint, hint), then you can use the vastly improved Lens Correction filter in CS5.

Step One.
Here’s a problem image. Look at the columns on either side, which are bowing outward, and leaning outward, as well. Adobe figured you’d be using this filter a lot now (since it’s so much better than in previous versions), so they put Lens Correction right up at the top of the Filter menu (rather than its previous home, hidden under Distort on the Filter menu). So, go ahead and go under the Filter menu, and choose Lens Correction now.

Step Two.
When the dialog opens, there are two tabs on the right: Auto Correction and Custom (Custom means “do-it-yourself”). I always try Auto Correction first, because that way, it does all the work for you. To turn it on, turn on the checkbox for Geometric Distortion (if I see edge vignetting [darkening of the edges], I turn on that checkbox too, and it’ll fix that at the same time). It looks at the embedded camera data to find out which camera make and model, and lens you took the photo with, then it matches that against its built-in set of correction profiles to fix the problem (it did a pretty decent job here, as you can see). If it doesn’t instantly come up with a profile (or the camera data is missing from the file), you can help it along by choosing your camera’s make, model, and even lens from the pop-up menus on the right.

Step Three.
If, after choosing your camera make and model, no profiles show up in the Lens Profiles listing box, try clicking the Search Online button. It will go to Adobe’s own servers, and check to see if any additional profiles for your camera make and model have been added by end users (as long as you’re connected to the Internet, of course). If it does find some, they’ll be listed there, and all you have to do is click on one to apply it. In this case, it found two additional profiles for my lens, but with a different camera. I tried them both, but neither was better than the original profile that was already there, so I stuck with it. Hey, it was worth a try, right?

Step Four.
Although it did a pretty good job of fixing the barrel distortion caused by the lens (the bowing out of the columns), they’re still bowing out just a tiny bit, so that’s when you switch to the Custom (manual) settings. These settings are added to any corrections applied in the Auto Corrections tab, so you don’t lose what Auto Corrections already did for you. At the top, you’ll see a slider for correcting geometric distortion, and on either end of the Remove Distortion slider is an icon that shows how the image will be affected if you drag in that direction. Since the photo was bowing outward, you drag toward the icon bowing inward, so I dragged to the right just a little, until the columns stopped bowing (in this case, I only need to increase it by +2).

Step Five.
So, at this point, the columns aren’t bowing, but they are still leaning out too far, so now we have to fix those manually. Go down to the Transform sliders near the bottom of the Custom tab. The Vertical Perspective slider fixes problems where thing are leaning out or in, and there’s a tiny icon on either side of the slider to show you what dragging in each direction will do. In this case, we need to drag over to the right to around +12 (this is how far I needed to drag over to make the columns stand up straight again). Compare them to the image back in Step Four, and you’ll see what an effect this had on the columns.

Step Six.
When you make geometric corrections like this, sometimes (okay, fairly often), you’ll see that in the process it seems to crop in a little bit tighter on your photo. What it’s doing is automatically correcting for the fact that when it unbowed your image, it did bow the outside edges a bit, so it automatically scales the image up a little, and crops off those messed-up edges. If you want to see what’s really going on, drag the Scale slider (at the bottom of the window) to the left (to less than 100%), and you’ll see the edges (I dragged it to the left to 91%, and you can see the gaps at the top that the image area used to fill).

Step Seven.
If you have an image where scaling it down even a tiny bit is unacceptable, then try this—use the Scale slider to scale it down until you see the full image (and the gaps it creates), then click OK to apply the edits from the Lens Correction filter. Now use the Magic Wand tool (press Shift-W until you have it) to select those gap areas (as shown here).

Step Eight.
Go under the Edit menu and choose Fill. When the Fill dialog appears, in the Use pop-up menu, choose Content-Aware (if it’s not already selected for you), then click OK, and watch as it fills in the gaps for you (as seen here). It’s not perfect, but it did a lot of the work for us (for much more on Content-Aware Fill, how it works, and what to do when it doesn’t, jump to the next project). Now, at this point, after a little Clone Stamp retouching on the area we just filled, we’d be done, but I want to cover a couple of other little things they tweaked in the CS5 update of the Lens Correction filter.

Step Nine.
In previous versions of the Lens Correction filter, there was a visible grid that was on when you opened the filter. Thankfully, now it’s off by default, but if you miss it, you can turn on the Show Grid checkbox at the bottom of the dialog. There are two other sets of controls on the Custom tab: You can remove/add vignetting in the Vignette section, but it works just like it does in Camera Raw. There are also two sliders for fixing chromatic aberrations (where you see a red, cyan, blue, or yellow fringe around the edges of things in your photo). Using it is a cinch—just drag the sliders toward Red to remove red, or toward Cyan to remove cyan (and so on for Blue and Yellow on the bottom slider). Below is a before/after, but I didn’t do the whole Content Aware Fill thing—it’s just the filter as is.

Before

After

 
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