How to Correct Lens Vignetting and Create Artistic Vignetting in Lightroom 4
In this video from our Lightroom 4 A to Z Workshop on DVD, we will go over how to correct the vignette in your images with the Lens Corrections Panel in Lightroom 4. In addition, we will demonstrate how to create artistic vignettes. We can also use the Effects Panel in Lightroom 4 to create similar vignetting effects that were created with the Lens Corrections Panel.
Regardless of whether or not it is a vignetting correction or an artistic vignette, our goal is usually to make all vignettes subtle and natural looking. We will discuss when it is appropriate to apply an artistic vignette to an image.
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How to Correct Lens Vignetting with the Lens Corrections Panel
First, to take your image into the Develop Module, press “D.” Next, open up the Lens Corrections Panel by pressing “Ctrl + 6.”
There is some natural vignetting in the image below for 2 reasons. First, it is because of the way this image was shot – the studio lighting was set up so that a little bit of light would fall on the backdrop just behind the subject’s face, and be darker around that area.
Second, the vignette is created from the actual camera lens itself, and shooting at a wider, faster aperture. Therefore, we need to go into the Lens Corrections Panel (“Ctrl + 6”) to correct the lens vignetting.
First, select “Manual.” Under the “Lens Vignetting” settings, drag the Amount slider to +55. Next, pull the Midpoint to 30. The Midpoint brings in that effect so that it is a more subtle transition from the edges of the image.
The goal is to match the midtone from the center, all the way out to the edges of the image.
Although we have already corrected the lens vignetting in this image, there is a slightly darker vignette at the right sides of the image. We will mostly like use a Graduated Filter in Lightroom 4 to reduce these darkened edges; however, we will not go over that in this tutorial.
This is the Before and After shots with the edge to edge correction. The odd looking dark edge on the right may still need to be corrected with a brush or gradient, but we will not worry about that in this tutorial.
And remember, there is no “right way and wrong way” to manage vignetting; it is highly subjective. Depending on the usage of the image, vignetting may be a good thing! The important part is simply knowing how to manage and adjust it.
How to Create Artistic Vignetting with the Lens Corrections Panel
Artistic vignetting can be used to help pull interest into the subject of the image. Artistic vignetting works with certain images, but not all. Typically when you have lots of distracting color tones or cluttered details on the edges of an image, (with no highlight colors) …an artistic vignette would work really well.
However, we often see people going overboard with vignetting, with the edges of an image completely black or white. For some reason (those oval frames from the 80’s, maybe?) …some people think that an image does not look professional unless it has been vignetted. Of course this is foolish to think! Over-vignetting, in our opinion, is a tell-tale sign of a recent trend in post-production, and our goal with post-production is usually the opposite- keep things timeless! We do not want to look back at our images and automatically think, “Oh yeah, this photo is from 2009 when black vignettes were super popular.” For at least the vast majority of our images, the goal is “timeless.”
The next image we have will work very well with an artistic vignette since the edges are supposed to be dark, and we want to emphasize a central subject. In addition, there are a lot of colors already in the scene but no highlights that will be washed over with a gray effect. The most distracting thing with the vignettes is when overblown highlights in the image become gray, making the vignette look fake.
Artistic vignetting works best when you can make it look like it is a natural occurrence in your image, rather than something that was done in post production. As mentioned earlier, this image is perfect for an artistic vignette since it just looks like the image is naturally darkening at the edges. In the Lens Corrections Panel (“Ctrl + 6”), under the Transform settings, set Amount to -100 and Midpoint at 22.
Below are the Before and After shots of this image. As you can see, the artistic vignette helps draw the attention to the focus of this image, which is the cake. At first glance the images look similar, and that’s our goal here. All we have done is reduced the significance of the purple colors and textures around the edges, thus helping the viewers eye gravitate towards the center.
How to Create Artistic Vignetting with the Effects Panel
We can also create the same artistic vignetting effect with the Effects Panel (“Ctrl + 7”). In fact, we can actually get the effect to be even more powerful with the Post-Crop Vignetting. It is extremely easy to over-do it, however, so be careful!
Since there are no highlights in the above image that we need to worry about, select “Color Priority” from the Style dropdown menu, under the Post-Crop Vignetting settings. If you want to leave it in “Hightlight Priority” however, the effect will look very similar and certainly good quality…
Next, bring the main Amount slider to -29 and set Midpoint to 24. If you want to change the roundness of the effect, adjust the Roundness slider. Pulling this slider to the right will make the effect more circular in the center of the image, while pulling the slider to the left will make the effect more square. We will set Roundness at -41.
Our final image should be similar to the one with the artistic vignette that was created in the Lens Corrections Panel.
This next image will also work great with an artistic vignette. Once again, there are moderately dark edges in this image already, so using a vignette will pull in the focus of the image. In addition, we will get a natural darkening effect on the edges of the image.
For this image, we will use the standard Post-Crop Vignetting effect, so make sure you still have “Color Priority” selected in the Style dropdown menu. Under the Post-Crop Vignetting settings, set Amount to -41. Since we do not want this vignette to affect his face and skin, pull the Midpoint in just a bit to 42. Then, adjust Roundness to -59 to make the effect a little more square. These adjustments will pull the vignetting effect off of his face and will leave the effect as an edge vignette.
Next, we can also add another vignette with the Lens Corrections Vignetting, which is the standard vignetting. In the Lens Corrections Panel (“Ctrl + 6”) under the Lens Vignetting settings, set Amount to -50 and Midpoint at 34. Now, we have a subtle darkening effect around the edges of the image that does not look like it was done in post production.
Below are the Before and After shots. As you can see, the artistic vignette does a really nice job of bringing in the attention into his face.
Conclusion & Learn More!
Remember that it is usually smart to make all vignetting adjustments after you have finished any other processing.
Depending on your personal style, the important thing is to understand when it is usually “expected” to correct a vignette, and when to add an artistic vignette. Either way, the vignettes should look like subtle, natural occurrences rather than blatant add-on vignettes. (Unless you have a time machine that can take you back to 1999, in which case you might make lots of money doing cheesy vignettes! Just a heads-up for anyone with a time machine…)
We hope you enjoyed this article and video excerpt from the Lightroom 4 A to Z Workshop on DVD. Stay tuned for our next article and episode!
The Lightroom 4 A to Z Workshop on DVD is a 14 hour video workshop turning any Lightroom novice into a complete master of Lightroom 4 in no time! The Lightroom 4 A to Z Workshop can be purchased by itself, or within the Lightroom 4 Workshop Collection which also contains our award winning and industry standard Lightroom 4 Preset System, as well as the Lightroom 4 Workflow System.