Straightening Your Photo’s Horizon in Adobe Lightroom

eHow Tech Blog


Unless you’re using a tripod, it’s quite easy to accidentally hold the camera crooked and end up with slanted pictures.  In fact, it';s even possible to get a crooked photo with a tripod. Thankfully. it’s simple to straighten a picture; you can use almost any photo editor to do that, but I’m going to share tips on how to do it in Lightroom.

Consider this original picture:

Photoshop Horizon TipAs you can see, the horizon is tilted, which makes it feel like the water is going to spill off the edge of the picture.  Sometimes a tilt works in an image, but 9 times out of 10, the horizon should be straight.

In Lightroom, open your picture in the “Develop” module.

How to straighten horizonThen click the Crop / Straighten tool, which resembles a rectangular box with dashed lines around the border and through the middle of it.  You can also short-cut to this tool by pressing “R.”

Lightroom tips

When you click on the crop tool, your picture displays with brackets in the corner and your cursor turns into a double-headed curved arrow.

Lightroom tipsUse that double-headed arrow to turn the picture until the horizon appears, well, horizontal.  The gridlines help you in this endeavor.

Girl on the beachIf you like what you see, select “Done”.

How to fix horizon in LightroomYou can also hold down “control” while using the Crop tool.  This opens the “Straighten” tool, which looks like a yellow level.

How to edit in lightroomWhen the “Straighten” tool is open, click one part of the horizon.  A small white circle appears.

How to fix horizonNext, drag to another part of the horizon and a second little white circle appears.  The two circles are connected by a white line.  When you release the click, the picture straightens based on that white line.

Fixing horizon in LightroomThe little white circles are a bit hard to see on this light sky.  I’ve circled them for you here:

Lightroom photo tipsWhen the horizon looks straight, select “Done”, and you’re all set.

Lightroom tips When you straighten a picture, you lose parts of your image on the sides, so be aware that a little cropping in will also take place.

After straightening the picture, I removed the buoys in the water with the clone tool and added a bit of contrast to the image.  Here is a before and after of the final product:

Before horizon is edited

How to fix horizon in LightroomIt’s such a simple thing to do that makes a big difference in images.

Photo credit: Liz Hansen and Kristen Duke

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