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Street Shooting & Perspective Control

In my darkroom days I would occasionally need to correct for perspective when buildings were in a shot. I'm not talking about doing architectural photography, where a rising front is needed to properly correct for what appears to be a backwards tilt when looking upwards. I mean in street shooting, where the same problem can exist, but because of the style of shooting and the equipment used, in-camera correction can't be performed.

The way this was done in the darkroom would be to prop up one end of the enlarging easel until the lines were straight, stop down the enlarging lens as far as it would go to maximize depth of field, and then dodge the top of the frame continuously during the exposure to try and even-out the light since the top of the easel was now quite a bit closer to the enlarging head than was the bottom. Not much fun, and hard to do in a repeatable manner.

The digital darkroom has made this a lot easier to accomplish. This Photoshop tutorial will show you how.

Watching The Watchers

One aspect of street shooting is photographing people in windows. (No, I'm not talking about being a peeping-tom with a 500mm lens). This can be especially interesting when people are watching a parade or other street activity. The most interesting aspect of this is that the people in the various windows are unaware of those in the other windows. This can create fascinating juxtapositions. (Click on any of these images to see enlarged versions).

Uncorrected                                                     Corrected

   

Psychic Laundry — Toronto, November 2001

Photographed with a Leica M6 and 90mm Apo-Summicron on Ilford XP-2 Super

But, when shooting from street level the building will appear to be tilting away from the viewer. Many people don't even notice this at first, but it can be disconcerting to the viewer, especially in a large print. It's very easy to correct though. Here's now.

How To

Using the Move Tool (V), grab a ruler guide from the left side of the frame and place it parallel with an edge, such as a window frame. Now use Select  / All followed by Edit / Transform / Perspective. Grab one of the handles in a corner and stretch the frame so that the lines of a building edge (such as the windows frames in this example) are parallel to the blue ruler line. Double click, and you're done. That's all there is to it. (Be sure that your canvas size is big enough to accommodate the enlarged image size).

If you have to make too large a correction you may find that the vertical perspective has become somewhat squished. If that's the case then a gentle correction with the top or bottom center handle will put things right.

Below is another example. The difference may not at first appear great in either of these examples but in an 8X10" or larger print even the most unsophisticated viewer immediately notices the difference, even if they're not sure what has changed.

Uncorrected                                                Corrected

   

4-Windows — Toronto, November 2001

Photographed with a Leica M6 and 90mm Apo-Summicron on Ilford XP-2 Super 

These photographs were taken during the annual Santa Claus Parade in Toronto in November, 2001.

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Concepts: Photography, Darkroom, Book of Optics, Optics, Tilting train, Photographic film, Penis enlargement, Photographic lens

Entities: windows, Toronto

Tags: windows, street shooting, darkroom, Santa Claus Parade, blue ruler line, enlarged image size, viewer, in-camera correction, repeatable manner, backwards tilt, digital darkroom, street activity, architectural photography, street level, unsophisticated viewer, gentle correction, window frame, Many people, Photoshop tutorial, Move Tool, ruler guide, interesting aspect, vertical perspective, center handle, Double click, larger print, large print, various windows, canvas size, easel, windows frames, building edge, image, grab, photographing, 8X10, dodge, notices, corner, equipment