Digital Photography Editing: How to Correct Lens Distortion

If lens distortion affects wide-angled photography leaving your photos looking unnatural, use digital photography editing to put everything back into perspective. This process s very easy with some photo editing software. For the purpose of this tutorial, we will be using the GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP), as it's a free piece of software. There are, however, many other tools you can use, including Photoshop CS2. Follow these steps to repair lens distortion.

Tools and Materials Needed

  • Digital Camera
  • Photo Editing Software

Step 1 - Open the Image

First, to Open the GIMP and load your digital photograph. If you don't already have a copy of GIMP, you can download one for free from the company's website.

Once the image is loaded, evaulate how bad the problem with lens distortion really is. Also take note of where most of the distortion occurs. Does it affect the whole photo, or is it only located around the edge?

Step 2 - Lens Distortion Correction

Next, use the filters in GIMP to remove the effects of lens distortion. Click on "Filters," then choose "Distorts" and then "Lens Distortion" to open the lens distortion tool. If you're familiar with using GIMP, the look of this tool window shouldn't intimidate you as it's designed in a very user friendly way.

At the top of the screen, you will see a Preview window. Just below which there are a series of sliders to make adjustments. Make this tool window larger as it will make it much easier to see how the corrected photo will actually look.

Step 3 - Experimenting

If this is your first time trying to correct lens distortion, then it's a good idea to have a play around with the settings so that you get an idea of how severe the changes will be. There are 3 main controls that you will need to concentrate on using:

  • The main control will distort the entire image.
  • The edge control only distorts the edge of the photo,
  • The zoom function allows you to zoom in and crop part of the image out.

Step 4 - Correcting Your Photo

Once you've experimented with the settings, it's time to get to work correcting the photo. This will be a time-consuming process of trial and error. Try adjusting the settings to try and straightening out the perspective to make the image look much better.

Tweak the controls until the photo looks how you want it. This is more of an art than a science, so play around with the controls as much as you need.

Once you get skilled at using the lens distortion controls, you will be able to use them to add extra effects to a photo. The tool can be used to create strong artistic distortion if you know how to use it. Many other photo editing packages, including Photoshop CS2, have similar functions which makes fixing flaws in photographs very simple.

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