Monday, October 7, 2019

Un-Distorting Fringe People

Also in this issue:
  • Doggies and Rainbows
  • Copenhagen Trip Report
  • In the Pipeline
  • And more...
Un-Distorting Fringe People

Group shots and wide angle lenses usually go together.  Which can be a bad thing for people standing near the edges, for that's where distortion is the greatest.  The problem becomes noticeable with large groups in tight spaces, for it means the camera is necessarily close to the group.

Here's an example group shot, taken in 2011 during my first seminar in Copenhagen.  The group looks great, but look at the people at the edges (yellow rectangles) (click on any image to view larger and sharper):

Close-up of the guy on the left.

Close-up of the guy on the right.  (NEVER put heavyset people on the edges of your group photos!)
One might think, "Gee, can't you just remove the distortion in Photoshop using the Filter --> Lens Correction --> Custom --> Geometric Distortion slider?"  The correct answer is "Not really; and even if you could, it creates distortion in the center of the image.  To wit:

After geometric distortion correction.

The heads in the middle are bigger.  You may not object; however my goal was to correct only for the people on the edges and leave everything else alone.  Here's my trick for doing just that.

First, use the rectangular selection tool to select just the distorted people on the ends:


Then go to Edit --> Free Transform, hold down the Control key, and grab the center handle by the picture's edge and move it in.  This effectively squeezes that part of the image, un-distorting the person and making them look thin again.  Don't go overboard on this; I'll explain why shortly):


Final product
I once used this trick with a picture of my mom many years ago; she was front and center in a wedding photo and complained she looked too fat:

Original pic.  A younger version of me appears behind her immediately on the right. :-)
So I used essentially the same technique:

to which my mom immediately complained, "Now I look too skinny!"  (There's no pleasing some people.)  Try #2 met with approval:

Finally I had conveyed how she saw herself; which is the secret to every successful portrait photographer.

In the pipeline

I'm currently working on ebooks for the A7R IV (which you can pre-order at a discount here) and also for the Sony Alpha 6600.  I'll tackle the A9 II also if there's enough requests for it.

We're almost finished with the Spanish translation of the RX100 VA and VI.

Printed and e-reader versions of the RX100 VII are now available here!

Email me at Gary at Friedman Archives dot com to be put on the waiting list for any of these titles.

Seminar Update

Here's what's on the calendar:

  • Indio, California - Jan 11-12, 2020
  • Portland, Oregon - March, 2020 (tentative)
  • Kiawah Island, South Carolina  April, 2020
  • St. Louis, MO  May 30-31, 2020

Even if you're an experienced photographer, you'll be surprised at how The Friedman Archives Seminars changes your thinking and your approach to an image.  I'm told that the approach I take is refreshingly different from all the other photo seminars out there.

Email me at Gary at Friedman Archives dot com to be put on the waiting list!

Copenhagen trip report

The Copenhagen seminar was awesome.  This was my third time here; people came from as far away as France, Sweden, and Norway.  I was honored.

Afterward Carol and I took a small vacation - we drove through Sweden to Norway, and took a short fjord cruise.  (I'm not a fan of cruises, but it's something Carol had always wanted to do).  Below are a handful of images from that adventure:

Copenhagen has a few bicycles.

A random dock at night.
Houses amongst the fjords.

This is probably the coolest thing we've ever done. Combine Pirates of the Caribbean, Phantom of the Opera, and that restaurant that only serves mushroom soup and flatbread and you get The Magnificent Marble Mine.
Once a mine that provided material to make glossy pages for magazines (they used National Geographic as an example, after which I stood up and proudly informed the guide that Cameracraft magazine has MUCH better print quality than NatGeo!), that part of the mine was closed since people aren't using paper as much. So it's now a tourist attraction, where boats float above crystal-clear water filtered by the limestone above to a chandelier-lit cove where we can dine and learn how it only took 3 people to work the mine (not including administrative overhead).

The White Tailed Eagle is unique to the region.  1/4000th, 70-200 f/4 G lens

The Norwegian sled dog in his awesome portrait.

This should be the cover of my next book.

How it looks in the travel brochure

How it looks when I get there.

My first attempt at getting time-lapse Northern Lights from a moving ship

The Sami people are renown for herding reindeer, creating distinctive handicrafts, and their harmonious relationship with nature. Sami herders are nomadic, following their reindeers' instinctive migration across vast areas of wilderness out to the coast.  What I found remarkable was the similarity with Native Americans and First Nations cultures of North America - the singing styles are similar, they live in Teepees, and their religion has them living in harmony with nature (unlike most Torah-derived religions).

Driving in Norway means Nuttin' but Tunnels. (Through rock mountains.) This one is the longest I've ever driven. There's even a roundabout INSIDE the tunnel! (0:50 in).

There's more, but I don't want to bore you.

Next Time in Cameracraft

The current issue (which features photos from David Bowie's photographer) can be read online for free.  Subscribe to the physical version, which provides a superior reading experience!

In the next issue: I patented a digital camera whose output could be authenticated.  Nikon and Canon stole the idea.  What happened next will shock you.

Until next time,
Yours Truly, Gary Friedman

Every vacation pic should involve animals and a rainbow. :-)


  1. Those tunnels are engineering marvels. I've driven through those in Norway as well as in Iceland. (Some of them in Iceland are one lane with turnouts for traffic going in the non-priority direction.) The comment on claustrophobia was apt since after a while you start thinking about the gazillion tons of rock right above you..

    1. Oh, I agree! They're amazing. Add to that the fact they had to create ventilation shafts periodically. Another nice touch - Norway removes the toll booths once the cost of the tunnels has been recovered.

  2. Beautiful images! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Hi Gary,
    Awesome video of the tunnels. Thanks for sharing.

    Showing my ignorance, when you say Marble Mines is it marble used to make countertops? How is paper made with marble?

    Regarding the group pictures. I don't believe you gave the lens specs (what millimeter). I ask because in the final picture even though the people on edges looked more normal I thought the peoples heads in the center looked squished into an oval. Maybe just an optical illusion at work.


    1. Good questions. This was taken on a Sony A550 (2011, remember?) with the Sony DT 11-88mm lens. Not a lens known for its rectilinear performance. :)

      Regarding the marble mines, this was new information for me as well: The marble was crushed up and used as a coating for high-end glossy paper. Who knew? The demand for this kind of product has declined due to people no longer consuming this kind of paper.

  4. Yes, if you look at corners, upper left and right, you can see converging line effect starting to show. Oh well, like you said it was 2011. 😉

  5. Typo: I meant to say Sony DT 11-18mm lens. Probably not the best choice for a wide crowd shot; on the other hand the space dictated an extreme solution.

  6. Hi Gary - Love your Sony Alpha 9 Guide (read it twice!) . Have you personal settings that incorporate firmware 6.0? Sorry if this is not the place to ask. I have just started appreciating your blog as a great resource. - folkus

    1. Yes, I have supplements for Firmware v5 and v6. Email me with your purchase receipt if you didn't automatically get a copy.


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