One thing that I love to do with my post processing for my portrait work is to use the Vignette tool in Lightroom. With digital photography one fundamental thing that I think can be overlooked when learning is the basics of lightness and darkness and how they effect the way someone views your image. I have talked about this before when covering burning and dodging photos and the same fundamentals apply with vignetting an image. A key part of a great image is directing your readers eye around the image so they can focus on the key elements you want them to focus on. Your eye is always drawn to the lightest parts of an image, so if there are any really light parts on the edge of the shot your eye will go there and stay there instead of really focusing in on the main subjects. Vignetting is a great way to darken the edges of the image so that your viewer focuses on the subject of the image.

With Lightroom creating a vignette is really easy. First go to the develop module and then expand the Lens Correction menu (this is for Lightroom 3). Here you will have a Lens Vignetting section with 2 options:

  • 1) Amount – This slider is pretty simple. It controls the strength of the vignette (how dark the vignette is going to be on the edges. This is on a scale from -100 (the darkest vignette) to +100.
  • 2) Midpoint – This slider will set where the middle of the vignette will be. Its set on a slider from 0 to 100 . Setting it at 0 will have the smallest midpoint so the vignette will start close to the center of the image, while a setting of 100 will have a very large midpoint so the vignette will only be slightly noticed on the very edges of the image.
  • A little note about vignettes. Some lenses may have a slight vignette already. If you don’t want that vignette or it is too strong you can always use the vignette tool and set the amount to a positive number on the scale to counter act the vignette from the lens and set it back to an even lighting.

    Here are some examples of what some of the settings in the vignette tool will do to an image. The image on the left is right out of camera with no adjustments. The image to the right has the lens vignette set to -70 and the midpoint set to 50. You can see how your eye is drawn to the subject because of the darkness around the edge of the photo.

    lightroom vignette tutorial

    For this next image I set the vignette to -84 and then the midpoint to 19 to make the vignette more dramatic.

    lightroom vignette tool

    If you want to learn more about Lightroom check out the Post Production link at the top of the site for many more articles.

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