Some photographers battle to eliminate vignetting – darkened edges and corners – from their shots, but used creatively, it can add interest to otherwise dull photos, and can help focus the eye on the subject of the image.
But while a vignette can be added in Photoshop
either manually using the Burn tool or by using the Lens
Correction tool in CS2 or later, the result is often a
little flat, as you can see from the examples at the bottom
of this page. It’s easy to create a much more crisp,
eye-catching result, and I’ll show you how here. It
takes a little more time, but it’s well worth it
– and besides, you could always record it as an
Action for easy playback.
1 SELECT AND
Choose the elliptical selection marquee from the toolbar
and drag it from one corner of the photo to the other. You
don’t have to be too exact about this; indeed, a
little roughness often adds to the effect’s charm, so
feel free to alter the shape of your selection to change
the focus by adding on bumps and carving away sections with
judicious use of the Shift and Alt keys. When you’re
done, feather the selection using the command in Select
▸ Modify; our value of 150 pixels works on a two
megapixel image, but experiment to suit. (If you need a
softer edge than the Feather command allows, skip the
feather stage for the moment then apply a Gaussian blur to
the layer mask created in step three.)
You’ll use this selection to create a layer mask
– hiding parts of the effect we’re about
to apply – and to make life a bit quicker in the
next step, invert the selection now.
From the adjustment layer icon at the bottom of the Layers
palette – it looks like a half-black-half-white split
circle – select Levels. In the Levels window, drag
the black marker under the input levels graph in from the
extreme left. You’ll need to use your judgement here
to decide what looks best; you may need to shift the
position of the grey and white markers too. If you decide
that the layer mask – see it? it’s just to the
left of ‘Levels 1’ in the layers palette, above
– needs alteration, you can edit it
independently of the levels adjustment itself.
WHY BOTHER WITH ALL THIS WORK?
Here’s the finished result from my vignette 2.0
If we’d done the same thing using Lens Correction
– in this case applying a -50 vignette correction
value – we’d get the below image; note how
the vignette here simply darkens the corners and edges
uniformly, an effect that’s particularly noticeable
on the white hind leg of the dog. Vignette 2.0 just punches
up the blacks for a more sharp, graphic look, leaving the
midtones and highlights alone.
Want to know more about the dog in these pictures, by the
way? Click here!
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