Great freeware for architecture photography

Started Oct 21, 2006 | Discussions thread
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philzucker Veteran Member • Posts: 8,434
Great freeware for architecture photography

I haven't seen it mentioned in this forum before, so allow me to show some examples made with the small freeware program ShiftN that does make architecural photography easier - and IMO it works great.

ShiftN does basically perspective correction as a shift lens does (hence the name) - something you can do with Photoshop easily, so why bother with another pice of software? Because it's even easier with ShiftN - and the results are obtained quicker and may be even more accurate compared to manual work.

Here a first example - a wide angle pic taken at the market of Stralsund recently. On top the original, at the bottom the one-click correction of ShiftN:

ShiftN does this through an analysis of the picture; it tries to detect verticals and adjusts the image accordingly. The nice thing is that you can actually view what lines were selected by ShiftN as verticals:

Even nicer is that you can deselect those red marked lines as you wish by simply clicking on them - very handy if the software detected verticals falsly. After deselecting false lines you can run the correction again.

Another feature is the possibilty to limit correction to a percentage. 100% corrected architectural pics sometimes look a bit unnatural - a very subjective thing of course, so everyones mileage may be different here. An example: another pic from the market of Stralsund, this time in two different correction percentages as marked. And if you look closely you'll discover yet another feature of ShiftN: not just perspective correction, but automatic rotation of the picture at the same time:

ShiftN even offers a distortion correction, but this does not work automatically. Since ShiftN takes its time I'd recommend to work on distortion with PTLens and to do the perspective correction afterwards with ShiftN. Here this 1-2-3 solution at work on a Zenitar pic - from left to right 1. original, 2. with PTLens correction, 3. with PTLens and ShiftN corrections applied:

After cropping (can be done automatically by ShiftN) and some additional PP work the Zenitar pic looks like this (1/60s, f5.6, ISO 800):

Okay, where do you get it? Here:

Don't be afraid of the German on this site, just click on the download link in the top part of the page and install it (only for Windows, I'm afraid). The software defaults to an English interface. Documentation sadly is only in German (at least I didn't find an English version), but anyone interested on further parameters can post his questions in this thread and I'll try to answer them.

Drawbacks? Yes, of course. No plugin version available (would love to have this as Photoshop Plugin), and it works only on JPGs (8 bit) and BMP files. So no support for 16bit and RAW. Second point is that it only works on vertical lines; if you want a complete perspective distortion correction that also includes horizontal distortion (e.g. if you photographed some doors you want perfectly straight like here - ) you'll get only a starting point. You may of course rotate the vertical corrected pic by 90 degrees and run it another time through ShiftN!

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