What is Upright?

The Upright feature in Lightroom 5 is a great set of easy-to-use tools for correcting perspective (you know, those pesky converging lines that happen when when the camera is tilted up at a tall building.) It’s also ideal for making tilting horizons level. Additionally it can make lines that are coming together horizontally and vertically at the same time perfectly square. Best of all, Upright’s functions are completely automatic, or completely manual or a combination of both. Here’s a deep dive into this great, yet pretty much unsung Lightroom 5 feature set.

Lens Corrections

First, note that Upright works best with RAW files and with profile corrections and remove chromatic aberration turned on. Here’s how to set that up. Highlight the photos you want to work with in the Grid mode. Tap the D key to call up the Develop module. Click the Lens Corrections tab. (Keyboard: Command (PC: Control) + 6) Now choose the Basic tab. Click the check boxes for both “Enable Profile Corrections” and “Remove Chromatic Aberration.” That’s it.

Profiles & Chromatic Aberration

Adobe has created individual profiles for lenses from camera companies as well as third party lens manufacturers like Sigma and Zeiss. These profiles correct geometric distortions and lens vignetting. These corrections are integrated into the Camera Raw pipeline that serves Lightroom and both Bridge and Photoshop. A separate algorithm corrects chromatic aberrations.

Upright’s tools


Sometimes, horizons just aren’t horizontal. While the Crop tool in Lightroom sports a Straighten tool to make things level, it requires work. A line has to be drawn showing the tool what the horizon is supposed to be. Why can’t it be a single click? Answer: Upright’s Level button is what the Straighten tools wishes it was. One click and done. This example using Lightroom’s Before / After view in the Develop module shows the original photograph of a house on the eroded Madaket beach on Nantucket Island on the left and the corrected version using Level in Upright on the right. Note the checks in the “Enable Profile Corrections” and “Remove Chromatic Aberration” boxes. Click the screenshot to enlarge it.


Lightroom 5 has a very handy grid that’s a big help when making manual corrections to perspective. This photograph of the exposed skeleton of the multicolored mechanical pipes forming the exterior of the Centre Geoges Pompidou in Paris is a perfect example of converging lines. Finding the grid is a bit of a challenge. If the Toolbar is not showing, press the T key. Click the disclosure triangle at the far right of the Toolbar and choose Grid Overlay. Next click the triangle to the right of “Show Grid:” to the left on the Toolbar. Select “Always” even though you know you won’t want it on permanently. Here’s where the secret shortcut comes in handy. Command + Option (PC: Alt) + O toggles it off and on. Logically, one would think that pressing the shortcut would work no matter where Show Grid is set. Lightroom does indeed defy logic at times. Now you know. There is a clue that there are controls for the Grid by the banner stating ” Hold Cmd for Options.” Windows users hold down Control. A heads up display appears at the top of the preview for changing the grid’s size and opacity. Use the integral “scrubby sliders” to change the settings. Simply drag left or right over the words Size and Opacity to decrease or increase the value.


Vertical optically straightens the vertical lines. Often the bottom of the photo will be pinched in to accomplish the correction.


Auto does the same thing as vertical only with more natural results and less and occasionally no pinching. It offers a more balanced look.


Full is a three dimensional correction of the image. In other words it corrects both vertical and horizontal convergence. The three red rectangles (below) are now all level and are have 90 corners. The horizontals are perpendicular to the verticals.

Full is a fairly radical correction. It can cause people to look stunted or elongated. The fix is found in the Manual tab. The last slider, Aspect, compensates for these distortions. Side-by-side are the original and the Full version of Napoleon’s Opera House in Paris. It’s obvious that I didn’t have the camera level. Framing the ornate building from street level caused converging lines. The three dimensional correction caused the round windows between the columns to elongate. I used the Aspect adjustment to correct the anomaly.
Upright-016 auto compared

Panorama, time lapse & HDR corrections

Syncing Upright to series photos like panos, time lapse sequences or HDR is a bit different than other Develop module adjustments. There are two choices for syncing Upright corrections: Upright Mode & Upright Transform.

Sync: Upright Mode

Choosing this in the Sync dialog box tells Upright to analyze each image separately. This mode is for photos that are made of different subject positions. It’s particularly useful for panoramas. Upright-020

Sync: Upright Transforms

This sync mode applies the first transform to all of the selected images making it perfect for HDR photos and time lapse sets.

Manual transforms

Upright clears any manually made adjustments before it analyzes an image it is correcting. If you want to keep the manual settings and use Upright. simply Option (PC: Alt) click on the correction you want to use.2192-PSW LV lighting

Kevin is a commercial photographer from Atlanta. He works for fashion, architectural, manufacturing and corporate clients. When he’s not shooting, he contributes to Photoshop User magazine & writes for Photofocus.com.