#13 in the Judging a Photograph Series

.When to use a vignette and when not to. Photography tips on Falcondale Life blog. What is a vignette? Should it be black or white and how to decide whether to add it when editing a photo.

When you edit a photo the option will appear to add a vignette (pronounced “vin-yet”). It will darken the edges of the photo, like a thin black cloud. A true vignette is caused by zooming out and shooting a wide-angle photo. Remember, camera lenses are circular. You may think that all photos are rectangular but in fact they all begin as circles. When the edges of the circle are visible in the corners of your rectangular photo, that is a vignette.

Adding a Vignette

Artificial vignettes are a useful effect. When you are editing a photo, try it out. Generally, it is a matter of your own taste. A vignette can work to draw the eye to the centre of the image. You can use one when the edge of the image is relatively bright and fights for your attention. Perhaps the main subject in the centre is a bit darker than the surroundings. However you don’t want to use a vignette to darken the image too much.

White Vignette

There was a fashion in wedding photography in the 1980s and 1990s for a white vignette. It was quite an unnatural look, and really only worked like a blurry-edged frame. It’s definitely worth avoiding.

However if you are shooting pure white background product shots, you can try adding a white vignette improve the look of the white background. That’s the most practical use for the white vignette function. It works better on Aperture than on Lightroom for this. The average mobile app doesn’t offer this function, but if you have found a white vignette in an app, please do share it in the comments.

When to use a vignette and when not to. Photography tips on Falcondale Life blog. What is a vignette? Should it be black or white, and how to decide if it's a good idea to add it when editing a photo. Dodd Fell, Yorkshire Dales national park.

A Photo of Dodd Fell

I was very pleased with my photo of Dodd Fell mainly because of the sunlight. It had caught on the distant water in the cleft in the hills. Also I had managed to get most of the sheep to look at me! This was the first shot I took out of about twenty, and after this one, the sheep got bored and looked away. No amount of jumping up and down or clapping would get them to look back.

I added just the tiniest vignette and this was my mistake. Why? Because – as the competition judge explained to me – you should never put a vignette in the pale, flat sky. It is so obviously fake, it doesn’t improve the contrast in the sky and there is nothing there to benefit from being darkened. I still got second place though, so not bad!

Can you see that the judge was right? Or do you have a different view? Let me know in the comments.

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Read the previous post in the Judging a Photograph series by clicking here.

Read the judging a Photograph series from the start by clicking here.