A vignette, or corner-shading effect, is an age-old technique used to draw attention away from the corners of the frame and towards the center. In standard photography, vignetting could be created in one of several ways:
- Light fall-off: A natural optical phenomenon where light at the edge of the frame is less intense than in the center of the frame, causing darkening. You’ll often see light fall-off when using your lenses at their widest aperture.
- Vignetting: Caused when a filter or other object on the front of the lens protrudes into the frame. This is especially true when placing filters on super-wide lenses.
- Dodging/Burning: In the darkroom, a standard technique was to either darken (burn) or lighten (dodge) the corners of the frame to accentuate the subject.
Nik Software’s Color Efex Pro 4 has four different filters that are available to recreate various vignetting effects. These filters are:
- Vignette: Blur
- Vignette: Lens
- Darken/Lighten Center
Each of these filters, while related, offers a slightly different approach to corner shading. Here’s a quick run-down of the major differences between these filter effects.
- The Vignette filter creates a traditional corner darkening effect in one of two shapes: rectangular or oval. The unique feature of this filter is that you can make the vignette any color you’d like for non-traditional looks.
- The Vignette: Blur filter applies a softening/blur effect to the corners of the image instead of darkening or lightening them.
- The Vignette: Lens filter allows you to darken or lighten the edges of the frame, and you have a wide range of control over the shape of the effect. This effect can be used to simulate filter vignetting or light fall-off.
- The Darken/Lighten Center filter adjusts the luminosity (brightness) of the corners and center of the frame. This effect can be used to simultaneously darken the corners and brighten the center to make the subject appear to “pop.”