A good composition is about directing the viewer through the image. And one of the many ways that effective photographers do this is by directing the light. Vignettes are a powerful tool in doing this. And best of all, you can do this using your phone!
In photography, a vignette reduces an image’s brightness or saturation around the edges when compared to the center of the image. Brighter parts of an image tend to attract our eyes more.
It is easy to create vignettes!
The example that I am going to show you is done through the Photos app on my iPhone SE. However, most phones have apps that can apply vignettes. If your phone does not, you can easily download a photo editing app that can do this!
The above shows the photo in Photos before I have applied the vignette.
If I move the slider to the right, the edges grow darker. If I move the slider to the left, the edges grow lighter. Simply move to taste.
Here, I’ve increased the amount to 19, darkening the periphery slightly.
You can see how the photo seems almost framed or cradled. The eye goes toward the sunlight and the middle of the frame, where the bridge is.
Subtlety is key
For most photos, applying just a little bit of vignetting is often fine. Often, you will not want to draw someone’s attention to the fact that you’ve added vignetting. It’s more about gently directing the viewer’s eye toward what you want them to see.
Want to work from your computer instead? Check out my tutorial on how to create an effective vignette in Lightroom Classic.