Correcting Converging Verticals

I've recently been working on perfecting architectural photography. It's not as simple as you might think. A house is sitting still after all, and you can control the lighting with strobes or flash and time of day. Easy, right?

Not so much. A super wide-angle lens is required for architectural photography and it requires some practice to use correctly. I'm currently using a Sigma 10-20mm on my Canon.

The problem inherent in use of a wide-angle lens is that it can create converging vertical lines in a photo where they may not be desired.

In some situations, converging verticals can look dramatic and are the intended effect. Check out this example in my photo of Dallas at Night:

Dallas: Reunion Tower At Night

In other cases, it's just that the photographer did not know any better at the time and a building appears to lean one way or another. There are several examples of this in my portfolio, unfortunately.

For an inspiring example of real estate photography with perfectly aligned vertical lines, see this image from a DT photographer:

White sofa in a spacious living room

It's best to have these skills to be able to straighten the verticals while you are shooting, but it is possible to fix them in Photoshop afterwards if the situation does not enable you make changes in your position or the camera's position.

If you would like to straighten up the verticals in your images, here are some ways to achieve the perfectly aligned look:

Use the Grid. If you have a grid function in your camera, turn it on and lock in live view while you are focusing on a room or building. Keep your camera on a tripod with a movable head. The grid will help you line up and straighten the angles.

Step back. Getting further away from a building, or stepping into the doorway or corner of a room should help change the perspective and make the vertical lines straighter. Sometimes this won't be possible such as in a crowded city or inside a very small home.

Keep the camera level. Tilting the camera up will give you converging verticals, especially with a wide-angle lens. Try to keep the sensor parallel to the building. Small bubble levels that fit in the flash hot shoe are available (and very inexpensive), these can help you practice and get a sense of what it looks like to have the camera perfectly level. Again, this won't always be possible due to the space.

Get to a higher vantage point. This will work well especially if you are outdoors, you can get on top of another building to shoot.

Look for an interesting foreground. If you can't step back or climb on another building, look for something interesting in the foreground to include in the shot that will enhance the image. You'll have straight verticals and possibly a better image overall.

Again, converging vertical lines may be the dramatic intended effect you were looking for in an image, but there are situations where it's necessary to have the skills to straighten those lines!

I'd love to hear your feedback!

Photo credits: Jrstock, Qiwoman01.
  • Qiwoman01
First Place winner in DT's "Uncover Your Emotions" assignment contest, June 1, 2006

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June 18, 2016

Hey Andre939, Thanks for your reply! I've heard about the tilt-shift lens, do you have one? It's definitely not in the photo equipment budget right now, maybe in future :D
BTW, I don't have glasses on and just hit 'report spam' instead of add a comment first, sorry!


June 14, 2016



June 13, 2016

Look into a program called lens doc. It's relatively inexpensive and very effective for correcting lines in architectural photography. It works as a plug in for photoshop.


June 13, 2016

Try photoshop to correct perspective.