Straightening a Photo in Photoshop

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I was recently hired to do the photography for a wine event at a local restaurant. Much to my chagrin I discovered that, in a couple of photos, my tripod wasn’t quite straight at the time, and I ended up taking a few slightly crooked pictures. What may have once been a BIG problem is now fantastically easy to fix in Photoshop (I’m using CS3 for this tutorial).

Here is the original photo:


After opening it in CS3, I clicked on the “Ruler” tool, which is hidden in the palette under the “Eyedropper” tool.


Next, I drew an angled line that corresponded to the shift I needed in the photo. Since the photo was slightly angled to the right, I drew a shallow angle starting at the bottom right corner and moving up slightly to the left side.


Next I selected Image/Rotate Canvas/Arbitrary. Photoshop automatically populates the angle of the rotation based on what was drawn with the Ruler tool. Click on “OK” and the image will rotate. You may have to “undo” and perform this step a few times to get the angle you want. This was the result:


There will be white space along the edges of the photo, as the canvas and the image will be oriented differently (the picture above, as seen outside of Photoshop, looks like the subject itself is straight, but the photo is crooked). You will need to crop your photo (using either the “Crop” tool from the palette, or the “Rectangular Marquee” selection tool, then Image/Crop) to remove this white space.


Alternately, you can get artsy with your bad self and color the white spaces to compliment the photo, creating a matte effect. I did this with a different photo, with these results:


I hope that you find this tutorial helpful in “saving” your crooked photos!

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  • Samira

    Thanks! Great tip for when you take a shot too fast and want to keep that shot but it was crooked.