Today’s Question: Could you please explain how and when to use the Guided Upright control in the Transform section of the Develop Module found in the recent Lightroom upgrade?
Tim’s Quick Answer: Once you’ve selected the “Guided” option in the Transform section of the right panel in Lightroom’s Develop module (or via the Transform tool in Adobe Camera Raw), you can click-and-drag within the image to draw from two to four lines within the image to define lines that should be perfectly horizontal or perfectly vertical. The image will then be transformed to straighten those lines to the extent possible.
More Detail: There are a few things that can help you achieve a better result more easily when using the Guided Upright adjustment.
First, I highly recommend making use of the “Show Loupe” option (which is enabled by default) so you can see a zoomed-in view in a small box adjacent to your mouse pointer. This loupe can be very helpful in making sure you are aligning the lines you draw for Guided Upright precisely along the actual lines you want to straighten in the image.
I also recommend making the lines you draw within the image as long as possible based on the references available within the photo. If you draw very short lines, a tiny mouse movement can translate into a significant change in angle for the line. With a long line, small movements will have a relatively small impact on the angle of the line, helping to improve your accuracy.
When distortion is a significant issue, such as for photos captured with a very wide-angle lens, I also recommend keeping the lines you draw as close to the outer edge of the photo as possible, since that is where the distortion is likely to be greatest.
In theory it is possible to only draw two lines with the Guided Upright control. Those could be two parallel lines to adjust only the horizontal lines or only the vertical lines within the image. You could also draw one horizontal line and one vertical line to correct in both directions. However, whenever possible I recommend drawing two horizontal lines and two vertical lines to provide the Guided Upright adjustment with as much data to work with as possible.
You’ll notice that when you draw your first line in the image after selecting the “Guided” option, there is no change in the image. You need to draw at least two lines for the Guided Upright adjustment to apply. The maximum number of lines is four. I think you’ll find that if you pay careful attention to the lines you use as a reference in the photo, you’ll be able to achieve an excellent correction very quickly and easily using Guided Upright.
Note that the Guided Upright adjustment is only available in the Creative Cloud version of Lightroom, not the standalone version. Frankly, this feature alone may be reason enough to consider a subscription to the Creative Cloud Photography Plan.