Something that everyone seems to be an expert on is straightening when the horizon is water. Everyone seems to “know” that the horizon will be flat and can be harsh when it isn’t. However straightening is one of the tools that often get overlooked when learning photo software. Further straightening is one task that is handled very differently in different packages.
I am using AfterShotPro on my laptop much more, often in association with Picasa to review photos when I first load them. I find this is the best time to cull, rank, add the metadata and perhaps do some very basic edits. Whilst Straightening is never a high priority. I find that AfterShot Pro has a really wonderful straightening tool, it is the small tilted picture icon at the bottom left of the main image display. The tool displays a bold arrow, clicking and holding the mouse will then select this point as an anchor and as you move the mouse away from this point a circular target style image opens up which has a horizontal and vertical grid markings (useful in aligning both vertical and horizontal items) Movement of the mouse can rotate this target circle. As you move away from the target a bold line is draw on one of the prime directions (right. left, up or down) closest you you movement. If you move the mouse outside a certain size (ie the circle almost fills the shortest axis of your image), the circle no longer expands but the bold reference line continues as you drag the mouse further. In the example above I have anchored the first point on the horizon on the left and side and draw out my desired horizontal to the horizon on the right hand side. Releasing the mouse rotates the image to use this new horizontal.
Unlike most other straighten tools, the one in AfterShot Pro does not automatically crop your image. So you are left with triangular salvages (shown in grey On the left) along the sides. The crop tool is the two overlapping L shapes with a tiny scalpel icon, its is to the left beside the straighten icon. Clicking on it displays a small dialogue box, in the upper right hand corner is a button labelled fit, clicking on this will then automatically fits your rotated photo into the largest rectangle that it can generate without displaying the salvages, (ie it trims off some of the edges or your image). This basically matches the automatic cropping of other packages. However when you rotate the image the aspect ratio of that fill rectangle can vary, so being able to crop to a defined ratio instead of the best fit could be desirable in many situations. Finally for all the “pixel peepers” and/or folk with a micrometre, here is my straighten version of my contre-jour seascape