Help: Wide Angle Lens Distortion

I don’t know about you, but wide angle lens distortion is a frequent issue for me.  In fact, it’s probably the #1 problem I have with photos and very difficult to see on an LCD.  So what is wide angle lens distortion?  It’s a form of perception distortion and I think Wikipedia does a better job explaining than me, but essentially it’s caused by the distance and angle at which an image is captured.  If you’re shooting with a normal lens (generally 50 mm for digital SLR) lens distortion will be a lot less of a problem.  I adore my 50 mm, it produces much sharper and better focused images… but it isn’t practical for my style blog photos because I have to be so far away from the camera to get a head-to-toe shot.  So I use my kit standard telephoto lens.  It’s not that good, I know, but I think most of us use these because better glass is so cost prohibitive.

The above photos have thankfully been corrected, but let’s see the original second photo (it’s been cropped and the exposure corrected (experiment with automatic settings gone wrong) but is otherwise untouched):

Whoaaaa.  Yikes.  See the distortion?  It’s my own fault really, I should be more careful not to place the camera badly.  Then I wouldn’t have a tiny little head and a huuuuuge body.  The lens was definitely tilting up toward me when I took this photo, accounting for the majority of of the tiny-head-huge-body problem.  And I was using the 18-55mm at 28 mm, which is definitely at the low end and also contributing to the distortion.

So how do we fix this?

I recently discovered PTLens after downloading and messing around with a bunch of other plugins I didn’t really like.  PTLens is a $25 standalone app (trial version for 10 photos is free!) and plugin for Aperture/Photoshop/iPhoto.  I’ve been using it with Aperture, it pops up nicely within the application.  It’s way worth the money for me, I take a lot of photos of buildings when I’m traveling and distortion is very evident on all those straight lines.  If you take photos indoors and your walls/windows/doors ever look crooked PTLens will save you there too.  PTLens has a database of lenses and their correction calibrations, all you have to do is select your lens and hit OK:

It’ll pick up the camera make and model, and the lens focal length for you.

Just a note: it’s better to work off an uncropped image.  I worked off the original but forgot to get a screenshot, so I reopened the cropped finished image in PTLens and fine-tuned the rotation, giving you the above screenshot.  The grid function in PTLens is far superior than Aperture’s straighten grid (at least to me), so that’s another point for PTLens.

So thankful for this app!  If you frequently have issues with distortion too then PTLens is way worth it!

My First Vintage Dress

Worn on Thursday 11 Nov 2010

Thoughts:  This Anthropologie dress used to belong to my cousin and is from sometime in the 1980s (is that even old enough to be vintage?).  It’s my first vintage piece ever.  There’s a tie at the waist but the overlay fabric is literally disintegrating there so this dress must be worn with a belt or sweater.  The first time I ever wore this dress I paired it with a black cardigan and gold belt.  I think I’ve been wearing it with black ever since, although it’s actually blue and beige underneath.  

I was afraid that none of my photos would come out— these were taken just before 5 pm, which these days is well on the way to full dark.  There was just a tiny little bit of light and while these certainly aren’t the best exposed photos… I’ve definitely taken worse.  

Francesca’s Collections black sweater shirt thing, Anthropologie dress, H&M belt, stockings, Sofft platforms.  

Things I Will Never Do Again

Worn on Tuesday 16 Nov 2010

Thoughts:  It was definitely a day for learning what things I should never do again:)  I will never take photos in the rain without an umbrella again.  My hair was soaked and curling within minutes, and my camera was rather waterlogged as well.  Next time I’ll cover it with plastic or something, I was terribly afraid for it but it’s perfectly fine, they really do stand up to a bit (or more) of rain.  I will also never wear a silk shirt with an elasticized belt again, the belt creeps up within a minute after righting it.  And creates odd bunches in the silk.  Remember this skirt from one of my Halloween costumes?  I will never wear this skirt again either.  I wanted to try it out sans costume… and then I discovered it has odd splotches of fading.  Oh well, I guess it will go back to the thrift store.  I perhaps should have attempted a floor length skirt of a different pattern as well, but it can be terribly cost prohibitive.  I don’t like any of the ones at Forever 21 either :(  

Eventually the rain chased me back inside.  I had to dry my hair again.  And my skirt.  

But there is one thing I will do again: go get a soy latte from the bike shop.  Yes, I said the bike shop.  That’s what I did the day I was wearing this.  I went everywhere in this tiny town my father lives in (ran out of soy, no espresso…) and was finally directed to the bike shop.  For a latte?  What?  But yes, it’s true, they have the best coffee in town (organic, fair trade, and only $3 for my medium soy latte).  But shhh, don’t tell anyone or the yuppies will ruin it!

Banana Republic shirt, Charlotte Russe belt, thrifted skirt (Salvation Army), Jeffrey Campbell boots, Anthropologie scarf.  

Safety Conscious Scarf

Worn on Wednesday 10 Nov 2010

Thoughts:  Seriously though, you could take someone out with this thing.  This scarf is another one of my winter favorites!  I bought it on New Year’s Eve… 2008? when I was walking across the island of Manhattan (okay so it was 8th to Lexington but it was freezing that day!) to the 6 train because by 3 pm there was not a free taxi in sight.  I think it really was 15 degrees or something, and this idiot was wearing the skinny jeans pictured along with tights and ballet flats (idiot idiot idiot), so I decided I really needed to stop in H&M to (1) defrost my feet and (2) purchase sweater tights.  And then two blocks later I decided I really needed to stop in Juicy Couture to (1) defrost my feet again and (2) purchase a gigantic scarf that required a gigantic pink bag.  

I don’t think staggeringly impractical even begins to describe this scarf— sure, I love the color and the little sparkles but this thing is HUGE.  If I hit you with one of the yarn balls on the end you would probably fall over.  You might even bruise.  I feel like I wear this scarf less than five times per fall/winter season, so I’m going to challenge myself to wear it more often, even if it’s just with a winter coat.  This is not really a scarf that’s  good for wearing indoors (well maybe if the temperature is less than 50 degrees).  

And typically… I don’t photograph looks like this one any more.  They’re much too uninspired?  Regular?  So now you know what I’m wearing if there are no photos for a day during winter.  I just had to take photos this day, I happened to walk outside during the five or ten minute window in which the light is pink (!!) and wonderful.  So yes, if the photos look pink it’s because everything was pink when I took them!  

Juicy Couture scarf, JC Penney juniors (I forget the label) shirt, J Brand 10-inch skinny jeans, Sofft shoes.   

Fall Dark and Light

11.7.10 – Sunday

I had a very enjoyable Sunday last weekend!  I met up with my friend from college to go get some quality Asian food and got to meet her room mate… and spent wayyy too much money on Asian groceries, but really, I have to remind myself that I’m not in Asia, it’s going to be more expensive.  I wish I could just go to Asia regularly enough that I could buy groceries there, I really miss the baked goods!  

I’m also debuting my new herringbone textured tights, and seriously— highly recommended!  The waistband is non-binding but also stays up.  Incredible.  And I don’t I have to squish myself into them, which is the feeling I get with some shapewear tights.  

I’ve worn this skirt many times (many that I never photographed as well), and while it’s really a summer skirt I think it does pretty well with tights too!  I’m looking forward to trying it with burgundy tights soon!  

Francesca’s Collections cardigan thing, LOFT shirt, J. Crew skirt, J. Crew ribbon belt thing, Assets by Sara Blakely tights (Target), Sofft shoes.  

Long Chain and Leopard Shoes

11.6.10 – Saturday 

I love this necklace and always feel as if I don’t wear it enough for how much I love it.  For some reason I feel like copper jewelry is a little bit harder to wear though, am I being ridiculous?  Perhaps a little, I need to experiment more with my jewelry!  My jewelry collection is extensively made up of light, delicate pieces and this is one of my only more substantial ones.  If you can even call this one substantial.  

So I’ve definitely worn this before.  I guess this is just the fall version, and that one was spring.  Although I’d love to pair a jacket with it this season… maybe I could do a black velvet blazer sometime… 

Buttons (Francesca’s Collections) shirt, Odille (Anthropologie) skirt, A. C. Moore leather ribbon thing as belt, HUE tights, Deena & Ozzy (Urban Outfitters) shoes, ken and dana necklace. 

Friend Friday

After seeing them on Closet Confections for the past few weeks I’ve been toying with participating in ModlyChic’s Friend Friday.  And today I discovered that I actually read the article that inspired this week’s Friend Friday/it is not already Saturday and I can actually post on time! 

1. The move to do away with soap, shampoo and deodorant has been growing in popularity in the last year. What are your thoughts on this trend?  I can go without shampoo for more than a day and try to at least once/week.  As I get older my skin has been becoming drier and drier… and so has my hair.  If I don’t get my hair cut at least every 3-4 months the ends become… rather crispy.  Not sure that I could go without soap/body wash, I really like my Mario Badescu AHA.  And I couldn’t go without deodorant.  I lived in Japan where antiperspirant doesn’t exist (actually it does, it’s just not common and no one uses it) and when I ran out I bought deodorant… which I used only for about three days.  Think 85+ temperatures and 100% humidity every day… I went back and very carefully read all the labels on the products and found one with antiperspirant.  Going without is not comfortable.   

2. Be honest how often do you wash your own hair?  Surprise!  I have mentioned it before but everyone tends to forget that my hair is actually curly (just too short now to really hold a curl/not look more like a lion mane).  And if you don’t already know, shampooing curly hair everyday is extremely bad for it.  But I do it anyway.  I try to skip a wash when I can but my primary form of exercise is yoga… ashtanga and bikram.  And I like my clean hair.  When I don’t wash it I use Oscar Blandi’s dry shampoo (the powder, and I’ve heard Bumble and Bumble is better for darker hair — comes in colors) and T3/Orlando Pita dry shampoo (spray) and I always use my hairdryer to style.  

3. Have you tried to go the more natural route by forgoing shampoo? What happened? Or would you be tempted to try it?  In college I used to go every other day with washing my hair and that was especially important because my hair was chemically straightened at the time.  And it was colored red/brown — two very bad things.  But I don’t think I could give up shampoo.  I’ve heard the bar shampoos by Lush are really good, but that’s just more of a delivery system change.  I think I could use a traditional shampoo alternative but I really couldn’t go without something that doesn’t have a surfactant.  

4. What products do you use and have you ever gone with more organic alternatives?  Lately I’ve been using Suave’s rosemary mint shampoo and conditioner… and it’s very decent, not as good as Aveda (which I used in high school) but for -$2/bottle… count me in.  I used to use a lot of really high-end shampoos but I’ve become too cheap in my old age.  The shampoo I ever had was Frederic Fekkai and something like $30/bottle… ouch.  I tried at least six different organic/natural/sulfate-free shampoos (Cristophe, Burt’s Bees, Kiss My Face, Organix, Alba Botanica… I’m missing one, I can’t remember) over the past two years but I was unsatisfied with all of them… they left my hair still visibly oily right out of the shower.  So back to sulfates it was.  I use all Ojon styling products from Sephora except for my dry shampoos.  Tried argan oil but found it weighed down my hair too much.  

I use Mario Badescu’s AHA Botanical Body Soap and Johnson’s shea and cocoa butter baby wash.  I also use the Johnson’s natural baby lotion with allergen-free frangrance.  I have bad season allergies and anything with a strong scent (especially floral) bothers me a lot.  Almost all my skincare is Mario Badescu and REN/Ole Henrikson/DDF — I have more success with rotating products every 3-4 months because my skin becomes immune to things really quickly.  And Fresh Soy Face Cleanser is maybe possibly the best face wash ever made.  

5. What about that daily shower? Would you forgo that opting to shower three times a week instead?  No.  I’ll only go a day without a shower if I showered the night before.  And most times I’ll shower the next day anyway and just not wash my hair.  I couldn’t do only three times/week.  Unless I was lost in a desert and there was actually no water.