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A Lens with a View (ImageAlign Software)
Article by Robert A F van de Voort

This time a corrected view, a review about some software that makes a digital view very acceptable...check out this ImageAlign software made and developed in New Zealand! My studio was selected to review this software, very timely as I was doing some interiors for an Australian client here in New Zealand, it worked like a charm, they never guessed it was shot with a very wide angle lens!

It is a relative small program, is available on CD or as a download, size is about 500 Kb. It can install as a plug in for Adobe Photoshop or as a stand alone program. I tried both, sometimes the standalone program is quicker to access if you are working in other programs than Photoshop.

What does it do?
It will correct the visual perspective of digital images, ideally uncropped digital photos, (I'll explain later). It corrects for:

  • Barrel distortion
  • Pincushion distortion
  • Aligning horizon
  • Vertical perspective shift
  • Horizontal perspective shift

Most of us will experience with the present pro-consumer digital cameras and digital wide lenses the distortion that is created with the camera lens, especially since most lenses on digicams are fairly wide. Sometimes the effect of the wide-angle lens is appreciated, other times it is a something you can do well without. I think of the times when photographing interiors like cabins on boats, or other confined spaces like bathrooms. Even a product shot enters the equasion. When you shoot a product from slightly above you will get the perspective divergence of both vertical lines. The use of a longer lens will minimize this but so does this program! Not only will it minimize it, it will make it totally invisible...

I do not like to take away some of the convergence that the lines create, a fraction can remain in most cases to keep the feel of the image realistic. For medical pack shots I will remove all aspects of convergence but in my illustrated of the Image Align Software box I just left a tiny bit in.

uncorrected image corrected image

You might say that Photoshop has a free transform tool, well, it doesn't work like this program, and neither does the perspective tool plug-in from Andromeda.

As most people probably like to do with a new program, install and run it...Installation was dead easy and fast, thus I nose dived into the "Grasshopper" plug in (yes, that is how it is called) under filters when I opened up Photoshop. Just what you do not do, after several tries it just would not give me a completed image, grrrrrrrrrr. You have to, yes you must, READ the tutorial file first. It is such a simple image window that you think you can not go wrong but your first move is the most important move and the rest is easy peazy, but you must practice with the tutorial first.

If you encounter a file that is not compatible with the "grasshopper" plug in, the drop down box under filters of "grasshopper" will be greyed out - like when working with raw files, but most widely used files like all tiff, psd and jpeg files etc. are compatible.

So far so good, I have an image open in the image preview box of ImageAlign. A grid field over the preview image provides many clues as how far you want to correct. Since the image in the centre, the real mid centre, has no distortion you start making your adjustments from the centre. I assume that all computations that the software program uses is based on that optical centre. Thus scanned photos that were machine printed and cropped a little will not show their true optical centre since the left or right, bottom or top, have been cropped off. This might lead to minute problems to get things exactly straight. The true uncropped digital files from your digital camera are the most accurate to work with. I wanted to work on an image taken by a 15mm fish eye lens, a negative and photo were scanned by Hans from Digital Image in Auckland. This man is an expert in this field, Hans has the latest scanning gear and fantastic skills and made sure I had some excellent clean and color corrected scans to start this test with. Ok, with the files now in my PC I first created a level horizon, from here it is easier to see how much the verticals are leaning in. An extended cross hair cursor shows how far you have to adjust. The beauty of this program is that it uses individual mouse clicks to move the image, this makes for very accurate imaging. An alternative is a slider, this is a bit jumpy and creates enormous adjustments if you are not careful.

You go through all the corrections and work out how far you like to take them. Redo, go back, none of these actions will deteriorate your image, you are working on a small preview image...When you have finished you have in your preview image the corrected image with bits of white around it.

The exciting bit now is the rescale slider, this is the last tool you use before you save your image. Traditionally "photoshoppers" use zoom only to see a magnified part of the image. Well, this seems to do the same thing, the image gets bigger until it fits the image preview window. The trick is to "rescale" in after your corrections until all the white bits around your photos have disappeared. Some part of your image will flow over the edge and will be cropped off. Of course this depends on the amount of corrections. Most mild cases of corrections will not suffer that fate.

The REAL zoom tool sits under the preview image window, indicated by plus % sign up to 6400% or a minus sign to change the magnification. This makes it easy to see the corrections of the preview image, a grabberhand will move it to see detail where you need it.

I like to call the rescale slider more like a "compute" button as it will create your final look of the image before the image is actually "rendered" when you click the OK button. The image that you work on during this progress is not manipulated, you can go backwards or forwards, do silly things, it is not changing your image in any way or eating up memory etc. Only when the OK button is hammered down with a final grin on your face it will rebuild your corrected image and give you the same pixels back you started with...clever? Fantastic! Then save it as any file you like in Photoshop.

uncorrected image
corrected image

uncorrected image

corrected image

You do not need to buy expensive shift lenses or lovely view cameras, sigh, anymore. Just take your photos, scan the negative or transparency for best results, photos are ok but will not be the optimum option!

The creative user will find some fun here too, you can make normal scenes into wide angle or find some other distortions...because this program bends all the rules and straightens out the truth.

Conclusion: If you ever felt disappointed because you had to decline some assignments because you did not have a shift lens, view camera or were in a spot that only allowed a wide angle lens (contrary to the wishes of the client who does not want any distortion visible) to do the job, this software program pays itself back handsomely. ImageAlign software can be found at You can download a fully functional demo for 20 trial corrections, after that the images will be watermarked.

Viewing you next time with more!
Any comments or questions, email me at or visit my website

Robert van de VoortRobert van de Voort is a professional photographer and writer, with his headquarters located on the North Island of New Zealand. Robert's professional photographic career spans the course of over 20 years, with work in stock, advertising, studio, digital photography and much more! You can learn more about Robert and see examples of his stunning work by visiting his website at


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