Camera Distortion and Perspective

I ran across a royalty-free photo on Pixabay that I'd like to paint.  This photo caught my breath upon seeing it.  I love the light and colors, the boats in the foreground, and those beautiful buildings.  

In this photo, I'm wondering if there is a camera distortion.  The building with the dome on the left seems to be leaning to the right.  The red building in the background seems to be leaning to the left.  When taking the photo through my photo editing program, I can drag a grid line from the ruler into the photo and can see that the walls are not straight up and down on these buildings.  
I'm not sure if this is camera distortion or if this is actually the correct perspective for these buildings.  Perspective is something I'm still learning (as you can probably tell) and wanted to know your thoughts.  I know about horizon line and vanishing points but have never tackled anything of this nature.  

Here is the reference photo.  Location is Cinque Terre in Italy.

Thanks so much in advance for your input.


  •  It's a lovely scene, @A_Time_To_Paint@PaulB painted a view of Cinque Terre a couple of years back.

    I'm no photographer, and my knowledge of perspective is limited, but I agree that there does appear to be some distortion. But I've been wrong about such things before so I'm loathe to say whether you need to fixit or not. People like @dencal, @Abstraction, @Richard_P and @CBG would have a better idea. I just wanted to let you know that I like the photo and that I, too, would want to be sure that the perspective is correct before starting to paint it. 
  • CBGCBG -
    edited February 5

    IMHO, if you choose to tackle this one I suggest you make it big, really big... it's a very wide angle shot... and it can't be viewed properly with a smaller field of view.

    If you are apprehensive, in a drawing program you could trace it (or find edges) to create a black on white outline, then print off a copy cheaply on regular white paper but as a mosaic (matching the size of your canvas).   Then assemble the pages on a wall and see if you can stand at the right place in front of it so it does not look too distorted... if you are comfortable that it can be viewed without too much distortion  (or none) and you are not too put off by the size of canvas necessary .. I say go for it!

    Most of the perspective "distortion" looks like it is in the top part of the frame so the water line might have to be at eye level to make this one work... I'm guessing standing at 3 feet in front of a 4 foot wide by 3 foot tall version of this would work. 

    To save time, you can try going fullscreen and looking through one eye to see if you can find where  a viewer must be for distortion to mostly go away.

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