To experienced photographers, vertically aligning real estate and architectural photos is, as a concept, so ingrained, so practiced, that their heads twitch bolt straight, eyes parallel to the horizon, when they hear the words.
Whisper “vertical” to a photographer at a party and watch as their head rises like a balloon set free.
They have nightmares about that one shot where the hallway was crooked but the kitchen was straight.
They have a folder labeled “bad,” all letters lowercase, filled with real estate photos from the early days when shots were taken handheld from 6 feet, camera angling down and stock flash popped up to get those hard lines, those blown out whites you would see in swat team raids from the show COPS back in the 90s.
Ask on any photo-centric forum, Facebook group, or Flickr page what they think of verticals. Ask Scott Hargis, Rich Baum, Nathan Cool for their thoughts on verticals. The resounding answer is the same: line up your shots.
There are no excuses.
How to line up your verticals
- Place your camera on a tripod that is perpendicularly aligned with a hallway or flat surface. This is a one-point perspective. You will need to see the corners of the walls on both sides of the frame.
- Loosen the tripod head. It doesn’t matter what head you use. It just needs to be loose and adjustable. There are better heads out there with bubble levels and easy adjusting knobs like the Manfrotto 405 that will make you faster.
- Find a spot on the wall directly in front of you that is the same height as your camera.
- Raise the camera up until the center of your shot is that exact spot.
- Notice the floor-to-ceiling corners of the walls on the edges of your frame. These are your verticals.
- Rotate the camera so that these verticals are parallel to the edges of your frame.
- Take the shot.
- Using Adobe Lightroom, straighten the verticals using the straighten feature.