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3 Tips to Master the Art of Vignetting

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The history of photography shapes the way a photographer uses cameras and shooting styles in today’s advanced industry. Before digital, photographers used film to capture moments from couples and special events. Because many cameras did not have advanced features, there were some limitations and inevitable results from film. One example of this is when shooting in film, certain cameras created a vignette on the edges of the image. Most of the time, this was an unintentional addition on the photos, but could enhance images if done correctly.

A vignette occurs when the outside of an image is faded or darker than the center of the image. Vignetting can be beneficial, because it allows the eye to focus directly on the center of the image, helping the center become the most important aspect of the image. There are several ways to include a vignette in your photos, and here are 3 tips to help you master the art of vignetting.

1. Understand the Types

There are various ways for you to create vignettes on your photos, even while you are shooting. Two of the types of vignetting you can work with are mechanical and natural. You may not always want to add a vignette to your photos, but understanding the differences between each of the types of vignettes can help you easily create the desired effect for your photos.

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Mechanical vignetting occurs due to extreme angles that light is entering your lens. An example of this is on a wide angle lens, such as a 16-35mm lens. Because it is so wide, it can sometimes add a slight vignette, especially when shooting at 16mm. And then, if you add a lens hood and filters on top of the lens, you have a chance to get even more of a vignette on your images.
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Natural vignetting is more gradual (and less noticeable) than mechanical, even though it can also be caused by wide angle lenses. When the light reaches your camera sensor at certain angles, it can cause a subtle vignette around your images.

When you know the differences between the types of vignetting, you can make the decision during your shoot to avoid certain looks (or to intentionally shoot that way).

Related: How can your second shooter help you create stunning photos that reflect your brand?

2. Include it in Signature Style

With the advancements of technology, many digital cameras do not automatically create vignetting as some of the older film cameras did. If you still desire to include vignetting on your images, you can make this part of your Signature Style! To maintain a fast workflow, incorporate vignetting into your favorite presets that you use in combination with a wedding post production company for your images.

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Both Lightroom and Photoshop allow you to add vignetting to your desired photos. Depending on which program is best for you to add your Signature Style to images, you can quickly adjust the darkness of a vignette to match the vision you had for the photo.

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For example, in Lightroom, access the Develop module and look for the section labeled “Lens Correction.” From there, you can control how dark you desire the vignette and even where you want the center of the vignette to be. Remember, unless you desire a dramatic look for your photos, vignetting can be very subtle and almost nonexistent to the untrained eye.

Related: Discover how to quickly apply your Signature Style to images with Lightroom presets! 

3. Center Subjects in the Photo

Because the various types of vignetting cause you to fade the periphery of the image, ensure you position your subjects away from the edges. If your subjects are placed near the edges of the photo, you risk part of them becoming a different shade. Or, if the vignette you create is darker, you risk covering your subjects by the vignette.

Part of knowing how to combat this issue is to decide what moments during the wedding day shoot you would prefer to have vignetting, such as the bridal or couple portraits. As you shoot your subjects, you can have an idea of what photos you would like to create a vignette in-camera (if your camera has the settings), and which you may add vignetting to with your artistic edits. Though subtle, vignetting places focus on the center of the frame where you should place your subjects to gain the most impact.

Creating images that represent you and your style as a photographer is important to standing out from others in the industry. Having the knowledge behind photography techniques, such as vignetting, can help you grow as a photographer. When used correctly, vignetting is a stylistic choice you can make to enhance your photos and contribute to telling a story of the wedding day. Learn more about creating stunning photos every time with our Pro Photographer Lighting and Posing Guide!

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