How to Fix Converging Lines in a Photograph

Black and White photo of dramatic clouds over picturesque church in rural IcelandCanon 5D Mark II camera and Canon 24-105mm f4 lens

This tiny historic church in rural Iceland provided great subject matter for my camera. And, while the small cemetery within the church grounds adds interest, it's the dramatic nature of the clouds that makes the scene compelling. I couldn't resist making a photo.

It's a simple enough photograph yet, to make it work, I had to take action to prevent the cross on the top of the church from appearing to tip forwards. It's a common enough problem when, to fit the top of a high structure into the frame, its necessary to tilt the camera backwards. But by doing so you're no longer photographing parallel to the subject. As a result the building will appear to tip forwards.

This kind of distortion is particularly evident when you're photographing from a position directly below the building in question. To eliminate this problem simply walk backward, without falling over, until you get to a position where you no longer have to tilt the camera to fit the building, from top to bottom, into the frame. The taller the building the further back you'll have to stand. Once you're successful in fitting the building into the frame, without tilting the camera backwards, you can zoom in to finalize the composition.

So, while it's certainly possible to straighten a leaning element within programs like Photoshop, its always best to get it right in the camera. Fixing such a problem on the desktop, while eminently possible, is problematic because the process ends up cropping the image. That means you have to include quite a bit of extra space around the subject when making the photo. As well as compromising your ability to obtain the best possible composition in camera working with a smaller, cropped file can be detrimental to image quality.

The lesson my friends, whenever possible, is to get it right in the camera.

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Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru