Using the Upright Feature in Lightroom

Using the Upright Feature in Lightroom
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Any one else a crooked shooter like me??? I can’t seem to hold my camera straight for the life of me! As much as I’m aware of it, and as much as I try to keep things straight, all I see when I upload my photos to the computer are a bunch of crooked horizon lines, doorframes, bathtubs, kitchen cabinets, tables, windows…you name it, if it’s meant to be straight, it’s usually crooked in my images!

When you have just one line to adjust, it’s often easy enough to do so with the Crop and Straighten tool, but what about when you have more than one line? Or when straigtening one line, all the other lines become crooked? Well let me introduce you to my favourite tool in Lightroom, the Upright Feature! Seriously, it will be a game changer in your editing and you’ll be wondering where it’s been all your life!

Where to find it and how to use it:

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First things first, in the Lens Corrections Panel, tick Enable Profile Corrections. This will adjust any distortion and vignetting in your image based on your camera and lens combination. Although this step isn’t necessary for using the Upright feature, it’s recommended you do it and that you do it first as its going to start the process to fixing any distortion and making the image look more balanced overall. Even if you don’t need to use the Upright feature, I recommend you enable this correction anyway.

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Next, you’ll need to move to the Transform Panel which is where the Upright feature is found. There are five different options that you can cycle through to see which one works best on your image.

a. Auto – Attempts to balance the entire image while while correcting both horizontal and vertical distortion

b. Guided –Allows you to customize the correction by choosing the lines you would like straightened. You can draw two or more guide lines directly on your photo. As soon as you draw the second line, Lightroom will start to adjust the image. The best way to use this option is to draw one vertical and one horizontal line. You can then draw an additional two lines (up to 4 in total) before the final adjustments are made. The keyboard shortcut for this mode is Shift-T in either the Develop or Library module

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c. Level – Corrects horizontal distortion

d. Vertical – Corrects vertical distortion

e. Full – Combination of level, vertical and auto corrections

After applying one of the different options, sometimes the crop gets changed and you’ll end up with white areas surrounding the image, as in the image below. To prevent this, select the Constrain Crop option and the adjustments made will be to the original dimensions of your photo.

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Applying an Upright option also resets any crop or transform setting you’ve already applied. To preserve these settings, press and hold the Option (Mac) / Alt (Win) key when choosing your Upright mode. I tend to just do my Upright adjustments first, before adjusting my crop.

You can also make manual adjustments using the seven sliders; Vertical, Horizontal, Rotate, Aspect, Scale, X Offset and Y Offset.

I recommend cycling through the different options to see what works best for your image. Some of the adjustments are huge if you have a really crooked one, and sometimes they are only subtle, but regardless they make a difference in one quick click and really help to balance out your images.

Some Before and Afters:

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This was after applying the Full option where you can see it made things look a bit wonky and changed the crop resulting in the white edges.

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This was with the Auto option applied and what I chose for the final adjustments for this image. 

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As I said, this tool has been a game changer for me and has saved me so much time while balancing out all of my images. I use Auto most often, but I do quickly flip through the options as sometimes there is a better fit. As it’s an extra step drawing lines, I only use Guided if it’s necessary for the image and I’m not happy with the other options...if I can get the same look with one of the other modes, I’d prefer to save myself a few minutes work! 

-Jenny