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38 Special: photographic special effects > Blurred Lighting Vignette

Blurred Lighting Vignette

This technique is very popular with portrait and wedding photographers. It creates a dramatic effect by giving the appearance that a soft light is focused on the subject, while dimming the surrounding area (which helps draw the eye to the subject).

Step One.
Open the photo that you want to vignette. Get the Elliptical Marquee tool from the Toolbox and draw an oval-shaped selection where you’d like the soft light to fall on your subject. Go to the Layers palette and add a new layer by clicking on the Create New Layer icon.

© BRAND X PICTURES

Step Two.
Hold the Option key (PC: Alt key) and click once on the Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers palette. This creates a Layer Mask from the oval, and holding the Option/Alt key automatically fills your oval mask with black. Next, in the Layers palette, click once directly on the regular Layer thumbnail. Press “d” to set your Foreground color to black, then press Option-Delete (PC: Alt-Backspace) to fill the layer with black. Then, lower the Opacity to 65% in the Layers palette and your photo should look like the one shown here—a clear oval over your subject with a dark tint surrounding the oval area.

Step Three.
In the Layers palette, click once directly on the Layer Mask thumbnail for your layer (the thumbnail with the black oval in it). Go under the Filter menu, under Blur, and choose Gaussian Blur. When the Gaussian Blur dialog appears, drag the slider all the way to the left, then start dragging it to the right to soften the edges of the oval until it looks like a soft light in your photo.

Step Four.
When you click OK to apply the Gaussian Blur, the effect is complete, and now you have a soft lighting vignette falling on your subject and fading as it moves farther away.


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