How to Straighten a Crooked Photo

Two Ways to Straighten Slanted or Leaning Photos in Lightroom

Lightroom gives us several methods for fixing a crooked horizon or buildings that appear to be leaning. You can use the Straighten tool, which is found within the Crop Overlay Tool in the Develop Panel. It looks like a small ruler and you drag it across the horizon or other element than you want to be straight horizontally. You can also use the tool vertically. The other way, new in Lightroom 5, is the Upright tool, found in the Lens Calibration Panel. It offers one-click horizontal and vertical straightening as well as correction for slanted, skewed or tilted photos. It’s great for images that need perspective adjustment, such as with multiple buildings, windows or columns that appear to be leaning every which way. Check out the video below to learn how to use these tools.

Straight Tool In Crop Overlay

I picked this image because it has a strong horizontal as well as a vertical and you can see how they both appear to be tilted. So I’m going to open the Crop Overlay tool — you can also hit the R key as a shortcut. Now I’m going to use the Straightening Tool, it looks like a ruler, beside the word Angle. I’ll click on it then go to my horizon and simply drag from left to right on the horizon line and Lightroom will automatically rotate the image to level the horizon. You can also use the straighten tool on vertical lines such as on buildings, so if I hit reset and then drag a vertical line on the lifeguard town it will straighten the image that way as well.
If you want to straighten or maybe angle an image by a precise amount, then you can click on the angle number in this window here and change it either by typing a new value or use the up or down arrow. You can also straighten by grabbing one of the corner handles and rotating the image, but it can sometimes be a little difficult to get it just right.

Upright Tool

If you have Lightroom 5, there is a great feature called Upright, which is found in the Lens Correction Panel. You can use Upright to straighten a horizon with one click or correct perspective and distortion, it’d especially handy if you’re photographing buildings and they look like they’re leaning. First I’ll enable Profile Corrections and then I can try out the various Upright options. Sometimes one will work better than another depending on our image, so it can be trial and error. Using Auto gives you vertical and horizontal perspective corrections. You can also click on Level to just level horizontal distortion if that’s all it needs. Vertical corrects vertical distortion and Full gives you horizontal and vertical perspective corrections and is often the best one if you have extreme distortion. For this image I’ll try Level. That looks pretty good. Now I will hit Ctrl/Cmd Z to undo and I will us Auto. It corrected it but now there are white areas. To fix that, check the box marked Constrain Crop and Lightroom will crop the image eliminate those white areas.

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