The Magic Frame: Do You Vignette?


Last week, I spoke about cropping.

That’s when John mentioned that cropping is not the only tool. You can use vignetting and a whole host of other tools to either bring attention to the subject, or not.

One that he mentioned, is vignetting. This is quite an old tool actually, and was used by masters like Ansel Adams and others.

You can crop and you can vignette in the same photo. That depends a lot on what you want to show.

The picture on the left, above, actually is one of the pictures that I had discarded. There is a blur in the bottom right corner.  The men create a messy background.

When I was going through the pile of discards, after I had edited the Holi shots that I did want to edit, I pulled up some of the rejects and put them into two lots – The Dance of Holi & The Faces of Holi. These are what I am editing now.

In the picture on the right, I have not used any crop.

I converted the base layer into a smart object, and then used Nik’s Analogue Pro. I used the preset for one of the motion camera presents, and then added a blur and a very strong vignette. You can see this in the dark edges and corners.

I also added the Topaz Star Effects filter in the picture on the right. I brushed out all stars I did not want, else it would have become gaudy. Look carefully, and you will see a twinkling on her fingers and the ring

Vignettes can be dark or light. They can be circular or rectangular. You can create them in Photoshop, and some do this by using the Gaussian blur tool. I don’t like it, and use it with a bit of clumsiness. I prefer the other tools that I get in the filters.

I used a dark vignette, and I used this to hide the men, as well as that ugly blurry colour in the bottom right hand corner of the photograph.

Look carefully at the men, and the bottom of the sari. You will see a slight blur. I had to do quite a bit of fiddling with the motion effect, so as not to make it too jazzy!

Oh.. before I go, what you see below now, is a picture with a light vignette. In this case, I wanted to have a lighter feel to the photo. I used a bokeh and light vignette


For those interested in the screenshot, I am attaching it below.

Screenshot 2016-05-01 11.49.23



  1. New to me. In the old days, meaning film and darkrooms, something similar might have been done with dodging. As long as it remains truthful, I’m all in favor.

    1. Yes. I am very old school..

      I modify, enhance.. I do this to emphasise a point

      But, I rarely do the fancy Photoshop tricks that are so much in favour these days. In my old-fashioned mind, that is when you indulge in digital art and not photography.

      In PS, i use the burn and dodge tools. They remind me of my old days in the darkroom

  2. Love this, it is such a vibrant photo!
    Never will I use these crazy tools, unless they are simple edits and filters on my smartphone but u applaud photographers who can do such amazing things with what starts as a simple photo!

  3. Photoshop is the digital darkroom. Nothing wrong in using it. Ansel Adams and others relied on the darkroom to create their art. I think you enhanced these very well.

    1. Thanks very much!
      Well, I agree that PS is the digital darkroom. I like to use it to enhance photographs, and to try and ensure that they tell the story that I have in mind.
      What I don’t do, is to make the photos jump through a hoop!
      And, I am not that good with PS anyway!
      Plus, I don’t like to spend hours at the computer

  4. I’m aways amazed at all the techniques used in photography. The woman in the sari has her face covered so the only detail is her hands. To me the blurring makes the hands stand out better.

  5. Very beautiful, firstly the photo and secondly the thought ,I do use all these tricks almost everyday but never thought one can even write about it . Quite imaginative and informative:) Thanks for sharing.

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