How to use the Transform Panel

How to use the Transform Panel

This post was updated on September 3rd, 2020

Learning Adobe ® Lightroom

Last time we looked at the Manual Tab in the Lens Corrections Panel. Today we continue our exploration of the Develop Module with the Transform Panel.

The Transform Panel in Adobe ® Lightroom

As you can see in the next figure, the Transform Panel has two sections. The Upright section with six buttons and the Transform section with seven sliders and a checkbox to constrain the crop.

The Update tool in the upper right corner and the Constrain Crop checkbox in the bottom work independently from the section in which you find them located.

It is possible to use the sliders of the Transform section and the buttons of the Upright section in combination. However, to do so, you have to first use the Upright section and then make finer adjustments in the Transform section. If you use the Transform sections sliders first and then a button from the Upright section, your sliders will be moved back into their initial position.

Adobe ® Lightroom's Transform Panel
Adobe ® Lightroom’s Transform Panel

What kind of tools does the Transform Panel offer?

This Panel gives you some helpful tools to counteract lens distortion.

Wait; what? Did we not just through the last two articles cover lens distortion? Yes, we did. However, the Lens Corrections Panel might not always be capable of helping you to remove all the lens distortion from your image. Finetuning the distortion removal of the Lens Corrections Panel is when the Transform Panel comes into the game of post-processing.

Since both the Lens Corrections Panel and the Transform Panel correct lens distortion, it is advisable to use the Lens Corrections Panel’s distortion removal before you move on to the Transform Panel.

Should you, for whatever reason, have to change settings in the Lens Corrections Panel after you have applied settings in the Transform Panel, you need to click on the Update tool to trigger a re-calculation. This Update tool is only active if you have used Lens Corrections after you made any changes to the Transform settings.

The buttons of the Upright section in the Transform Panel

Upright Section of the Transform Panel
Upright Section of the Transform Panel

Double-clicking on the word Upright activates the Off-Button, which we have a look at next.

Off-Button

Obviously, this turns all automatic or semi-automatic transformations, that you might have applied in the Transform Panels Upright section, off. However, the adjustments that you made in the Transform section are not affected.

Upright Section of the Transform Panel - Off Button
Upright Section of the Transform Panel – Off Button

Auto-Button

Corrects both vertical and horizontal distortions.

Upright Section of the Transform Panel - Auto Button
Upright Section of the Transform Panel – Auto Button

Guided-Button

With the help of up to four guides, two horizontal and two vertical, it calculates a perspective correction for your image. Notice that, when you click on the Guided Button, you are automatically activating the cross-hair tool in the top left corner of the Transform Panel and vice versa.

This Tool works best if you have clear horizontal and or vertical lines in your image. Since the most significant distortion happens to off-center areas, you should use guided lines on off-center objects as well. You will get the best results if you apply long guides far away from each other. So, for example, one horizontal in the top third, one in the bottom and the verticals in the left and right thirds, will help you achieve a better result than having both horizontals in the top third and both verticals to the right of your photo.

For the skyline of Seattle in the next figure, I chose one vertical on the right side of the dark blue skyscraper to the left, the other one down the left side of the far-right brown building. For the horizontal guiding line, I chose the roof of the second brown building from the right, which remains in the image. Now ideally, I should select a second vertical line; however, after multiple attempts, I found that all left me with an egg-shaped Farris-wheel. So the good old proverb less is more works here too.

Upright Section of the Transform Panel - Guided Button
Upright Section of the Transform Panel – Guided Button

The original, uncorrected version looks like this:

Before with no distortion Removal
Before with no distortion Removal

Level-Button

Corrects horizontal distortions. It does the same as the Angle tool in the Crop and Straighten Tool, just not necessarily quite as good.

Upright Section of the Transform Panel - Level Button
Upright Section of the Transform Panel – Level Button

Vertical-Button

Corrects vertical distortions and can rotate your photo a bit.

Upright Section of the Transform Panel - Vertical Button
Upright Section of the Transform Panel – Vertical Button

Full-Button

This button offers a combination of Horizontal (Level), Vertical, and Auto distortion correction. However, it tends to try to do too much. I used the Full button to try to fix the skyline of Seattle in the following figure. And as you can see, the Ferris wheel now is more eggshaped than round.

Upright Section of the Transform Panel - Full Button
Upright Section of the Transform Panel – Full Button

The Sliders of the Transform section

Transform Section of the Panel
Transform Section of the Panel

As with all sliders that we have examined so far, if you double-click on the name of a slider Adobe ® Lightroom moves it back into its initial position.

If you double-click on the word Transform all sliders of the Transform section will be moved back into their initial position.

Using a button of the Upright section after you have moved one or more of the Transform sliders out of their initial position, will move them back. However, if you want to combine the slider’s settings with the Upright sections buttons, you can hold the <Alt>-Key (Windows, <Option>-Key for Mac) to add the effect of your chosen Upright button to your slider settings from the Transform section.

Vertical Slider

Corrects vertical distortions. Moving the slider to the right tilts your photo backward, moving it to the left tilts your image forward.

Additionally, using the Vertical slider, can stretch your photo a little bit.

Vertical Slider moved to the left
Vertical Slider moved to the left
Vertical Slider moved to the right
Vertical Slider moved to the right

Horizontal Slider

Corrects horizontal distortions. Moving it to the right turns your photo to the right, moving it to the left turns your photo to the left.

Horizontal Slider moved to the left
Horizontal Slider moved to the left
Horizontal Slider moved to the right
Horizontal Slider moved to the right

Rotate Slider

Rotates your photo up to 10˚ to the left or right. The rotation direction depends on the direction in which you are moving the slider.

Rotate Slider moved to the left
Rotate Slider moved to the left
Rotate Slider moved to the Left
Rotate Slider moved to the Left

Aspect Slider

Shrinks or stretches your photo along the horizontal perimeter.

Aspect Slider moved to the left
Aspect Slider moved to the left
Aspect Slider moved to the right
Aspect Slider moved to the right

Scale Slider

Enlarges or scales down the size of your photo. This slider can be useful if removing the distortion from your image also cut off some crucial parts.

Scale Slider moved to the left
Scale Slider moved to the left
Scale Slider moved to the right
Scale Slider moved to the right

X-Offset Slider

Moves your image to the left or right along the horizontal (X) axis.

X-Offset Slider moved to the left
X-Offset Slider moved to the left
X-Offset Slider moved to the right
X-Offset Slider moved to the right

Y-Offset Slider

Moves your photo to the top or bottom along the vertical (Y) axis.

Y-Offset Slider moved to the left
Y-Offset Slider moved to the left
Y-Offset Slider moved to the right
Y-Offset Slider moved to the right


All trademarks and copyrighted items mentioned are the property of their respective owners.

I am in no way affiliated with any of the products used in this post-processing process. I do not receive any kind of compensation for this article, it was neither offered or asked for.

THIS BLOG ARTICLE “How to use the Transform Panel” IS NOT AUTHORIZED, ENDORSED OR SPONSORED BY ADOBE SYSTEMS INCORPORATED, PUBLISHER OF ADOBE ® LIGHTROOM

All photos taken by Wiebke Schröder/Lille Ulven Photography.

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