Vignetting is a darkening or shading around the edges and corners of an image.
Vignettes can be naturally occurring. Or they can be added to an image in post processing.
When they occur naturally, it is the result of the optical design of a particular lens. And, in fact, vignetting was a common feature of images taken in the early days of photography.
These days, though, most lens are designed specifically to avoid vignetting. That’s because vignettes are considered by most professionals to be a sign of a lens’ imperfection.
But I’m here to argue for the merits of vignetting!
Vignetting isn’t always bad. When used with care, vignettes, can really improve an image by strengthening composition and/or enhancing the overall mood and feel of a photo:
- Vignettes can help to emphasize your subject, especially one that is positioned close to the center of the frame, by making the area around that subject stand out relative to the edges and corners of the frame.
- They can give an image, especially a black and white one, a vintage or gritty feel.
- Vignetting can impart a dreamlike quality to an image.
As with all image enhancements, the key to an successful vignette is learning how to control the effect.
To that end, I’ve attached two videos below.
The first, by Adobe evangelist Julieanne Kost walks you through the basics of adding a vignette in Lightroom.
The second video, by Matt Kloskowski of Matt Kloskowski Photographyhelps us maneuver some of the more advanced options of Lightroom’s vignette settings.