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A vignette is a darkening in the corners of your image. It's caused by your lens, and one of the marks has a good lens is a lack of vignetting. You will most often find vignetting when shooting in extremely wide angles. If you have vignetting throughout the zoom range on your camera then you probably need to think about a lens upgrade. That said, there are times when you want vignetting. A vignette can drive attention to the center of your image and help control the viewer's eye. The thing is, you want control of when a vignette happens. This is why you don't want a lens with a vignette problem; instead, you want the ability to shoot clean images because you can add any vignetting that you want later using Photoshop.
Here is an image you saw before. This is what we used as our vignette- correction example. And here you can see that I have gone through and done my black-and-white correction, some tonal adjustments, and I have got my image coming along pretty well here. But still, my eye tends to wander. There's something. I need the viewer's eye more in the center here, so I am going to add a vignette. Photoshop does not have a way of nondestructively adding a vignette, meaning if I had darken the corners of this image, they are going to stay dark. If I print it and find that the corners are too dark, there's nothing I can do to go back and change them.
So I'm going to perform my vignette on a copy of my image layer. Right here I have layer 0. This is the Background layer that contains my image. In your file it may say Background. I floated this layer at some point. It doesn't matter. I am going to duplicate it by picking it up and dropping it on the New Layer button right here at the bottom of Layers palette. Now you can see I have my original layer and a copy. These are identical. If I hide this one, nothing in the image changes, because all I am doing is revealing the identical copy down below.
So I am going to add my vignette to this copy. This way if I later decide I don't like the vignette or need to change the vignette, I can simply delete this layer, reduplicate my original, and reapply my vignette. Vignetting is easily done using the Lens Correction filter, which you saw earlier when we were correcting perspective. Now notice the preview is in color. That's because lens correction operates on the layer that I selected. And my black-and-white conversion and a lot of other edits were being performed by adjustment layers above that layer.
So I cannot actually see my vignette being applied along with all of my other adjustments. I am going to go over here to the Custom tab and right here I see Vignette controls: Amount, I can darken to the left, lighten to the right and Midpoint, which will control the size of the vignette. By lightening I can correct any vignette problems that my image may have. I can also create a burning-in effect. Obviously, that's not what we want. We want to darken the corners. So I am going to just pull this to the left and now I have this nice vignetting in my corners.
If I would like the darkness to pull in a little closer, like maybe closer to that tree, I will simply drag the Midpoint to the left. Then that changes the size of this overall circle of brightness in the middle. It's making it a little bit smaller. Now again, because I can't see the effects of my adjustment layers, some of which are causing parts of the image to get darker, I don't know how dark the vignette's ultimately going to be. This is another reason to work nondestructively, as we are by duplicating the layer. If I get this wrong, I can throw it out later and refine it.
I am going to go to about there and hit OK and let it process the vignette. It does some thinking and when it's done, I now have a layer on top of my original layer, that is, the vignette layer. If I hide it, you can see there's my original layer down below, the vignette up above. In fact, I am just going to double- click right here and label this Vignette. Now I know what this layer is doing. I am not sure. The corners might be a little dark. There are a couple things I can do to attenuate that. I can drag my Opacity slider for this layer to the left to lower the opacity.
That lightens things up a bit. I could also edit the corners individually by adding a layer mask to this layer. Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All. If you are not clear about masking, that's covered in lots of other places in the lynda library, so I am going to just go through this pretty quickly. I have added a mask to this layer. Where the mask is white, those parts of this layer are visible; where it's black, the underlying layers will be visible. Right now, there is no black.
It's only white, so my entire vignetted layer is showing. If I take some black paint, click on this layer, grab a paintbrush, and paint into the corners, I am effectively erasing the vignette. That lets you see how far the vignette goes there. When I release the mouse button, you can see there's now black in this corner. That's blocking this part of this layer. I am going to undo that, because what I would like to do is actually lighten this corner up. So rather than paint with black, I am going to paint with a shade of gray.
That gives me a semi-opaque mask. If I just paint that out there and let go, you can see that now I have got gray here in this corner. This is revealing a little bit of this layer, but not all of it. So in this way I can go in and manually control each corner. Take a quick look at a couple of other vignetting examples here. Here is the case where I was looking into the sun. I like the silhouette of the trees, I like the shadow, but still my eye was wandering off the edges. Some simple vignetting in the corners brings my attention back here into the center.
Here is a very extreme example of vignetting. Again, my eyes were wandering away. These are pretty black, and they may print even blacker, so I don't know. I may back off on those. At the same time this is kind of a weird, almost surreally kind of landscape here. I like the sense of maybe I am looking through this lens that's too small for my camera. So vignette is a very simple technique to apply, thanks to Photoshop's Lens Correction filter, and it's also a great way to control the viewer's eye.
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