Straighten Crooked Photos – Digital Photography Tip of the Week

Last time I finished up my three part series on night photography. This week I am discussing keeping straight lines straight.

When shooting, it is important to be sure to keep straight lines straight. Trees that lean one direction, horizon’s that fall off to one side and buildings that seem to fall over are all signs that you camera was crooked when you took your shot. You can avoid this by examining your photo before you take it. If you still continue to have crooked photos, some camera’s have aids you can use.

A digital camera with a grid overlay will provide you with straight lines that you can match up with something in your photo. A grid overlay like the one shown below also helps in composing by giving you a rule of thirds guide.

If you camera does not have a grid overlay, but has multiple focus points, you can line up a straight line such as the horizon with one of the focus points, as I have in this photo.

If after trying these you still end up with crooked photos, you can always use software to straighten a crooked photo. In Photoshop Elements, you can automatically straighten a photo by choosing Image > Rotate > Straighten or Image > Rotate > Straighten and Crop. You can also manually straighten a photo using the straighten tool. Microsoft Digital Image Suite Plus also has a straighten tool that can be found in your Common tasks. Choose the down arrow on the format screen, then choose Straighten Picture, next click on the photo two points of a line that should be straight. The software will then use the angle between the two points to straighten the image. Rotating an image without cropping will leave white space around your photo, and rotating with cropping will make your photo a little smaller. The more you have to rotate, the more you will lose as shown in the black outline.

Other software packages have straightening tools as well, consult your help file for your particular method for you software package. And remember, sometimes a tree does lean, and a horizon may not be horizontal when you are shooting a hill, but watch out for the tell tales signs of a crooked camera!

It is always better to get the best image possible when you take your photo, but when you need to use software to fix a small mistake, feel confident that you can fix it!

Next week, I will talk about how to hold your camera for more stable shots.

The digital photography tip of the week is written by the PCIN Assistant Editor, Chris Empey. Chris is a long time photographer and is currently the vice-president of the Niagara Falls Camera Club. You can see more of his photography at his Photo of the Day website.
If you have a tip to send Chris, or a question about digital photography he can address in the newsletter, send it to

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