One of my pet peeves are crooked photos.  You know the kind… where the image seems to be leaning to the left and right.  Sure, maybe that’s by design… but often it’s just because of being careless.  I’d like to offer you several ways to avoid this amateur mistake.  In fact if you’re shooting a panoramic photo, this type of error can be very problematic.


Check your tripod.  Many have a level to ensure that your shooting platform is solid.


Add a hot shoe bubble level. There are many of these simple devices on the market.  Just slip one into your camera’s hot shoe. These can help avoid a crooked horizon or any perspective tilt that was unintentional.


Check your menus. Many cameras feature a virtual horizon.  This can help you get a level platform too (even when shooting handheld).


There’s an app for that. When I set up my camera slider for timelapse, a bubble level app can really come in handy.  Thanks to Ron Risman for this idea.


Have a backup. While my tripod may be level, what’s to say the ballhead is.  I often using a camera rail from Really Right Stuff to help offset the camera when shooting panoramas.  This makes sure that the camera body and head are perfectly level when I shoot.

Straighten in post.  Both Lightroom and Photoshop have easy tools for straightening photos.

Here’s how in Photoshop.

  1. In Photoshop, select the Ruler Tool (I).
  2. Locate a line or surface that you think should be horizontal (or vertical).
  3. Click and drag a line to measure the angle.
  4. In the Options bar click the Straighten button.