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A darkening of the edges of an image caused by light falloff and other factors is an issue photographers have long tried to avoid or compensate for, and yet a vignette effect can help to frame up an image. And even serves to help focus the viewers attention inside the frame, rather than wondering away from the key subject of an image. In this lesson I'll show you my preferred method for applying a vignette effect. We're going to make use of a filter here. Specifically the lens correction filter. And I'd like to do so in a non destructive and flexible way.
So I'll use a smart filter. And what that means is that I will convert my background image layer into a smart object so that I can apply the filter. As a smart filter to that smart object. To do so, I need to make sure that the background image layer is the active or selected layer on the Layers panel. Which I can accomplish by simply clicking on the thumbnail for the background image layer. I'll then choose Filter, Convert for Smart Filters from the menu, in order to convert the background image layer to a smart object. Photoshop will ask for confirmation, so I can simply click OK.
You'll see that the icon, the thumbnail for my background image layer has changed. It includes now, in the bottom right corner, a small icon that indicates it is a smart object. The name of the layer has also changed from background to layer zero. Now that the background image layer has been converted to a smart layer, I can apply a filter, and it will automatically be applied as a smart filter. So I'll choose Filter, Lens Correction from the menu, in order to apply the lens correction filter. I'm not going to apply any of the adjustments found on the Auto-Correction tab, so any of those that are turned on, you can disable.
And then go to the Custom tab, where we'll find the vignette controls. In this case, I want to apply a vignette. In other words to darken the edges of the image. So, I'll click and drag my slider, over to the left. As you can see, I can apply a rather strong darkening effect if I'd like. And in this case, I'm going to apply a stronger effect than I actually think I want. We'll see why that can be helpful, in just a moment. I can also adjust the midpoint slider. This will determine how far into the image the vignette effect will appear. I'll go ahead and refine my adjustment here, pulling the vignette into the image just a little bit, but not by too much.
So that looks pretty good. It's a bit stronger than I want, but we'll see how to mitigate that in just a moment. With the vignette settings established to my liking, I'll go ahead and click the OK button, and you can see that a smart filter has been added for lens correction. I can click the Eye icon to turn the effect on or off, seeing a before and after effect, and I can also adjust the overall settings. If I decide for example that I'd like the midpoint to come in a little bit further, I can double-click on the Lens Correction Filter, and the Lens Correction dialog will appear. Going back to the custom tab I can then fine tune the midpoint adjustment or the amount adjustment as I see fit and then click OK to accept the changes. I can also tone down the effect if I'd like.
In this case I've applied a stronger vignette than I actually want so I'm going to use the opacity control to reduce the overall effect. I'll double-click on the Adjustments button over at the far right of the lens correction filter effect. And that will bring up my blending options dialog. I can the use the opacity control to reduce the strength of my vignette adjustment. That looks to be a little bit better. I'll go ahead and click OK to review the effect in the overall image and perhaps turn off lens correction and turn it back on again. And that's looking to be a good vignette effect.
In this case a little bit strong. But I really want to try to frame up this image, so I don't mind having a strong vignette. A vignette effect that darkens the edges of an image can enhance the mood of an image, and also focus the viewer toward the key subject in the frame. And by applying the effect as a smart filter, you retain the ability to refine the final effect as desired.
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