A Quick Fix for Correcting Distortion in Stitched Panoramas

Sometimes when you're out shooting that epic landscape, in order to capture the entire view, you need to shoot a series of images on location and then stitch them together afterwards in post-processing. I think we've all been there. Depending on which lens you're using, that can create the particularly frustrating challenge of dramatic image distortion. In a nutshell, the wider focal length of the lens, the more distortion you are likely to see when stitching shots together.

There are likely all manner of methods when it comes to actually capturing your images for stitched panoramas in the first place but if you find yourself in a situation similar to mine, where your gear setup just isn't wide enough to capture the scene the way you want to, then you might just have to resort to using post-processing as your method of balancing out your shot after-the-fact. When it comes to stitching images together that were all shot on a wide-angle lens, that pesky horizon distortion can be a pain to correct. Fortunately for us though, there is a relatively simple fix for that with a single filter adjustment in Adobe Photoshop.

In this short video, I talk about the “Adaptive Wide Angle...” adjustment filter within Photoshop. The tool itself is relatively simple to navigate, which is good news for us, making for less processing time. So far, this is the best tool that I have found for correcting those warped horizon lines that come often enough with stitched panoramas. Below is a before/after example of the shot that is processed in the tutorial video.

panoramic distortion correction example after processing
panoramic distortion correction example before processing

Hopefully this helps you the next time you find yourself shooting stitched images that have need of some horizon line distortion correction. This is my go-to technique for fixing this particular problem, but I'd love to hear what other methods you might have found successful for correcting these types of issues. If any of you have any other suggestions or techniques that you'd recommend for correcting distortion in stitched panoramas, make sure to comment below and let us know.

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Scott Pfau's picture

Thanks. I didn't know the Adaptive Wide Angle tool even existed.

Bert Nase's picture

Why don't you do it in LR, when you're already there?

michael andrew's picture

Because PS Adaptive wide angle is more customizable and powerful.

Ben Pearse's picture

Kool tutorial, cheers

Christian Berens's picture

pretty interesting! I have CS5 and have the EXACT same thing. I went to horseshoe bend in March and used my 16-35 with vertical images stitched together, but i ended up using a combo of transform and puppet warp, this looks pretty handy too though!

Alexander Grotepass's picture

Awesome. Thanks for that info. I just created a huge Panorama with a 35mm Lens on APS-C and my building buldged outwards in the center. Lightroom was not able to stitch the Pano with "Perspective" and could only do Cylindrical. So I jumped into Photoshop and corrected that. Unfortunately I will lose some details in the upper portions on the outer edges of the frame but I knew it would not be come out without any sacrifice.