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Straighten a Crooked Image with the Crop Tool in Photoshop or Elements

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Crooked Photo

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This beach scene is awfully crooked. I'm going to show you how easy it is to correct with the crop tool in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements. Other methods of straightening aren't always best for digital photos:
  • In Photoshop, you can use the measure tool to drag a line across the horizon. Photoshop will remember the angle, and when you go to rotate the image, it will automatically fill in the correct angle of rotation. However, when you use this method on a photo that only has a background layer, you'll still need to crop the image as second step. You might as well do it all in one step with the crop tool.

  • Photoshop Elements has two commands for automatically straightening an image. Image > Rotate > Straighten Image, or Image > Rotate > Straighten and Crop Image. However, these commands were designed for scanned images that weren't placed on the scanner glass straight. It usually doesn't work for digital photos with a skewed horizon, because there's no way to indicate to Elements what should be horizontal.
Any time you have an image with a skewed horizon, you're going to have to lose something from the edges of the photo. The sides of the image will have to be cropped to make up for the slanting of the photo from rotation. Since you always have to crop a photo when you rotate, it makes sense to rotate and crop in one step with the crop tool.

Right click on the image above and save it to your computer if you'd like to follow along. Then continue to the next page.

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