Vignettes are a two edged sword, and many of us fall to their siren song. Vignettes can really make your photographs look masterfully finished, but they can easily be applied too heavily and overshadow the real subject of the image. Right now Ill show you my favorite way to control Post-Crop Vignettes in the Effects tab.

This article is adapted from our book, Develop Great Images Adobe Photoshop Lightroom available on iTunes and PDF for all devices.

Post-Crop Vignette for the Finished Crop

The name Post-Crop Vignettes used to confuse me, but then I learned that its differentiate from the lens vignetting available in the Lens Corrections tab. That vignette is applied always to the original full size image, and if youve cropped half the picture away, only half the remaining image will get the vignette. Our Post-Crop Vignette is applied to the image you see, no matter the crop youve made.

Crank It Up & Shape It

The best way to use this tool is to crank it up, and then bring it back. And when I say crank it up, I mean drop it down to the negative side. Sliding to the left makes a darkening vignette, and sliding to the right makes a lightening (white) vignette. Id suggest that there are very few images that will benefit from a white vignette. If youre after that “1986 high school senior” look, then go ahead and slide to the right. For everything else, keep it to the left.

Start by sliding the Amount slider to the left significantly (-50). You could leave the vignette like this and just adjust the amount to the appropriate level, but I find that shaping the vignette is a better choice.

Drop the Midpoint to 25. This brings the vignette more toward the center.

Now, drop the roundness to about -50, which changes the shape of the vignette from an oval to more of a rectangle, like the image itself. If you slide it to the right, it becomes a circle.

Now, increase the Feather to about 70, which blends the vignette more gently from the edges to the center. Sometimes Ill drop the Feather to 0 so that I can clearly see the edges Ive defined with the other sliders.

Back at the top of the palette, you’ll see a menu to the right of the word Style. The default is Highlight Priority, which helps make sure that highlight areas affected by the vignette are blend more naturally and gently. Since this image is all about colors, and there aren’t many highlights near the edges, I switched it to Color Priority. This protects the colors in the vignette and helps keep them from becoming muddy or grayish.

Fortunately, even though Im using the Color Priority setting, the Highlight slider at the bottom still lets me bring back up any of the highlights I may have lost with the vignette. In this case, Ive slid it all the way to 100.

Lastly, decrease the Amount slider significantly. Our biggest mistake is to make the vignette dark enough to be noticeable. There are certainly times when a dark vignette is an important part of the finishing, but its not usually the case for landscapes and normal portraiture. Ive seen very fine photographs lose points in competition simply because the vignette was too dark. For this one, I dropped it to -11just enough to push attention down the road in the image, but not so dark that its noticeable.

Herere a few more examples or gentle vignettes, including the settings.



This one is a simple effect using the vignette tool to make a border around the image.

Check out the rest of the excellent tips for finishing your photographs in our book, Develop Great Images Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. Available on iTunes and PDF for all devices.