Photography For Real Estate

Tips and techniques for real estate photography

Render that which is vertical vertical

Posted by larrylohrman on April 16, 2006

Recently I was having a discussion about verticals with a reader that illustrated to me that on the previous posts about perspective correction and verticals I’ve not made the point explicitly or strong enough about the importance of always making sure verticals are rendered vertical in architectural and interior photographs. I’ll go so far as to state it as a fundamental law of architectural and interior photography.

Always do everything in your power to render verticals vertical in architectural and interior photographs. Vertical is always judged in relation to the vertical edges of the photograph. So another way of stating the law is: do everything in your power to render verticals in an architectural or interior photograph parallel with the edge of the photo. A corollary to this law is, do everything in your power to make sure verticals are not curved by barrel distortion of your lens.

The reason behind this law is that human vision is designed around looking for patterns and making sense out of what is in our visual field. When we see a photograph of a building we automatically start comparing the photo to our internal model of buildings. When we see a wall or door or cabinet that is not vertical this automatic visual response keeps trying to figure out why it’s not vertical. Our attention keeps coming back to the non-vertical. This automatic reaction creates a distraction out of the non-vertical that can severely disrupt the real message of the photograph. This is why you always see verticals rendered vertical in high quality interior and architectural publications and this is one of the reasons professional architectural photographers spend over $1000 for tilt and shift lenses.

2 Responses to “Render that which is vertical vertical”

  1. My biggest hassle is to have my co-workers shooting vertical. I said to them to get the camera at level, but they continue to shoot the towards the more crowded zone, and since gravity still affect furniture, it’s downward.

    I said them to shoot at belt level (and it gives a more natural looking than eye level) even without previewing the scene but they don’t get it. I should screw on them a plumbline.

  2. Consider using DCE Tools, free at Use ens distortion correction followed by perspective correction. It’s the evaluation version. I purchased it for $39.99 after making sure it worked for everything I do.

    Photoshop Elements 5 incorporates distortion correction too.

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