Rotation is the one photographic adjustment every needs to learn. Mistakes happen. Sometimes the camera accidentally flips images on their side. Thankfully, most basic image editors allow you to rotate your images. So does Adobe Photoshop Elements. I’ll show you how.
Rotating and Correcting Camera Distortion Video
If you prefer to watch and listen rather than read, watch the video below on rotation and correcting camera distortion.
Step 1. Open the photo you want to rotate.
I went ahead and grabbed an image off of the Flickr Create Commons.
Step 2. Rotate
Go to Image --> Rotate and make your selection. You can rotate 90 degrees to the right or left, flip the image horizontal or vertical, or enter a custom rotation amount.
Step 3. Try out the other options
If you flip horizontal, you’ll be given the mirror image of the picture you started with. The same image, now flipped, looks like this.
Go to Image --> Rotate --> Custom, and you can pick a custom angle to rotate your entire canvas. This doesn’t have a lot of applications in real photography, but it is good to know if you need a very precise tool.
Photoshop Elements creates a transparent canvas behind your image. You can copy or paste it anywhere, and the transparency will be preserved. If you save it as a .jpeg, however, it will not.
The Free Rotate Tool
If you go to Image --> Rotate --> Free Rotate Layer, you can rotate your image until you like the way it looks. Be aware that this menu option only shows up if you have already selected the layer you wish to manipulate. It will not appear otherwise.
The Straighten Tool
You might be compelled to try out the straighten option in the Image --> Rotate menu, but I’d strongly encourage you not to. It doesn’t always know what it’s trying to achieve. Sometimes the result is completely wrong. This is one of those areas where humans still beat the machines. Trust your own eyes and use the Free Rotate tool instead.
A simple application: Fixing a building
Let’s use the same rotation tools to fix a building that we accidentally photographed a bit askew. Here’s our starting image.
Well, never mind us photographing the building incorrectly. This is an accurate image of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. But what would it look like straight up and down? Let’s use the free rotate tool to find out. Go to Image --> Rotate --> Free Rotate Layer.
You’ll notice that the bottom half of the building is a bit cut off. We’ll have to crop our image slightly.
Go to Image --> Crop. Select right at the bottom edge of the building, click the checkmark, and you should end up with something like this.
Wow. We just fixed the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Where’s our commission? There are better Photoshop tools for fixing buildings gone astray, but these two do a decent job. If you’re interested in the more accurate way of doing it, try out Filter --> Correct Camera Distortion (see the video). It allows you to fix lens issues and bend buildings towards you.
Rotating is easy
In fact, it’s one of the easiest things you can do in Photoshop Elements. You can go for a custom rotation, or you can use the basic presets. If you have any questions about how to use this tool, please leave them below.
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