One very common problem with photos of artist books is that the book is crooked in the image frame. Here’s how to make sure your books are on the straight and narrow. These are Photoshop or Photoshop Elements techniques but the same results can also be achieved in iPhoto, GIMP or any other photo editing software you may have.
The easiest way to straighten an image is with the crop tool, believe it or not. The rotate tool also works well but if you use the rotate tool you’ll have to crop the image after. Rotating with the crop tool does both steps at once.
- Pull down a few “guides” if necessary to help determine right angles.
- Access rotation with the crop tool by moving your cursor outside of your image area onto the gray background until you see a curved cursor with arrows on each end. It is easiest to find this cursor close to the edge of the photo and near the corners. Click and drag the curved arrows to rotate your image as needed. The image here shows the Photoshop crop window. The blue lines are guides pulled down from the ruler to see if the edges of the book are straight. The black lines are the crop tool guides that can also aid in straightening your image.
The above book is also a good example of square angles on book shot flat and straight on. Too often artists try to shoot their books from a standing up and above the book, which results in strange angles. Try shooting with the camera positioned directly above the book. Standing on a step stool or putting the book on the floor and bending over it keeps the edges straight and helps reduce distortion and strange angles on the edges of your book. Experiment to see what works best.
Getting a shot of your book opened out or even shooting a cover is best achieved from a low angle. If you try to shoot with your camera positioned higher than the book you will find that the bottom of the book looks narrower than the top of the book. The image at right is distorted and it looks like the book is falling over. Fix this by shooting your books on a tall counter or bench top and bending down so that your camera is shooting straight at your book. Make sure to hold your camera straight as well. Tilting the camera up or down will also distort.
Remember, it is always best to shoot the best image possible “in camera.” The less editing in Photoshop the better. But, if for some reason you really can’t get good angles when you shot, you can explore Photoshop’s perspective or skew commands in the edit menu under transform to straighten and align edges. These advanced techniques often result in unnatural angles and shadows, so explore carefully.