Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Importance Of A Vignette

I was at a meeting last night and one of the folks there asked me how often I put a vignette on any of my images. My response was "every time". Today's image gives an example of the improvement that is made to a shot simply by adding one more step to your processing. In order to make sure the effect of the vignette can be seen in the "for the web" version of the shot it has been left pretty ham handed. If you look at almost every image posted here on the blog you may be able to see a vignette on the image. A notable exception (since it's the posting just below this one) is the highly graphic type of image recently featured. Today's discussion is a little unusual because to shows the finished image, the next to last step and the vignette itself. We'll take them in order. The shot on the upper left has been color corrected, selectively blurred and sharpened. (Blurred and sharpened is not as strange as it might seem.) Lower Left is the vignette itself and the right hand image is the finished shot. To find out how the vignette was made and applied, hit the "read more".

If you look at the original shot (upper left), you can see that there is nothing holding you in the shot. The door is a big distraction and your eye is drawn to it as it is the lighter area of the image. In the right hand image, the door is still there, but toning it down through the use of a vignette has made it less of a focus. Your attention is centered on the woman and her camera.

The vignette is another of those things that will take longer to explain than it does to do. It starts with a copy of the corrected image. The square Marquee Tool (M) was selected and a the feathering set to (in this case) 200 pixels. The marquee was drawn out from slightly inside the upper left and pulled down to the lower right. Spacing was about equal distance all around. Making sure the vignette layer was selected, the Delete Key was tapped and the center of the image dropped out. You might notice that, even though the square Marquee Tool was used, we wound up with a fairly soft "circle". Your "marching ants" (selection) will definitely appear to be a somewhat square oval.

If you're a frequently reader you know I'm a big fan of Blending Modes. In this case the Blending Mode was changed to Multiply. The Multiply Blending Mode darkens the image. By having only a highly feathered outside ring we've produced a vignette. There's a couple things going on using this technique. The vignette layer was made before the final sharpening (using the High Pass Filter sharpening technique) was done. BTW: While the image was being sharpened the visibility of the vignette layer was turned off. Therefore, the vignette is now darker and less sharp than the overall image. It's focusing the viewer's attention on what's important.

A vignette does not have to be centered. The vignette on the image in the post of February 1st is higher and wider than being centered.