It’s the first thing I notice about a photo — wonky lines.
I don’t know if I’m alone here, but horizons that aren’t horizontal and square corners that aren’t perpendicular just set off every irritation trigger in my head when I look at a photo. Maybe I’m a little bit OCD, but it seems to me that this is one of those tiny little-but-not-so-little differences between professional photos and amateur photos.
Straightening your photos in Lightroom is super easy, and I promise: It will instantly give your photos a polished feel.
Basic straightening with the crop tool in Lightroom
If you have a photo with a wonky horizon, then the crop tool is often sufficient to straighten everything up. Hit the crop icon, and drag from outside the photo to rotate. Guidelines will appear and you can use these to straighten by eye.
Alternatively, hit the “Auto” button in the center of the “Straighten” slider. Lightroom will use its AI judgment to find the perfect angle to straighten the horizon.
If you have taken a lot of photos on the same angle (for example, your camera was on a tripod while you were talking landscape shots), then you can copy and paste your crop settings to other photos in your Lightroom catalog. Just make sure that Crop is selected under Tools. By default, the crop settling isn’t copied.
Advanced straightening using the geometry tool in Lightroom
When I learned about this tool in Lightroom, it changed my life. No, really. I used to try and straighten only using the crop tool and would get so frustrated when things didn’t end up perpendicular. If you have shot perpendicular lines (think a doorway, a picture frame, side of a house, etc.) from anywhere other than smack bang in the middle, and been frustrated that you can’t fix it with the crop tool, then this tip is for you.
The geometry tool allows you to specify where the horizontal and vertical planes should be in your photo. You’ll find Geometry at the bottom of the main edit panel in Lightroom on desktop. On mobile, it’s in the bottom ribbon next to Presets (in the paid version only).
To use, click the icon that looks like two crossed lines. Click and drag to mark in one of the horizontal planes of your photo. Repeat for another horizontal plane and then for the vertical planes. You can place up to four guidelines. You’ll see the photo being tugged into position with each guideline.
After that, use the Distortion slider to correct any fisheye effect from your lens. When you have everything squared up, you can use the normal crop tool to finish off, and then do your normal edit.
Straighten up and ship out
Symmetry and straight lines are pleasing to the eye. With a few clicks, you can give your photos a professional finish that will take even the most hasty phone photo to the next level.