How to Give Your Image a Vignette in Post Processing

Have you encountered photos that appear to have darkened corners or edges? That effect is called ‘vignetting’ and is usually unintentional. It is often the result of lens inadequacies or incorrect camera settings. However, this effect can also be deliberately included to act as a border, and is useful if you want to draw the viewers’ eyes to the center area of the frame, which would then be the brightest area in the image. 

There are many ways to add a vignette in post processing, and this mini-tutorial would be a simple yet very effective way to achieve this result.

Step 1:

Open the image and create a duplicate layer so that you can work with that while leaving the original opened image untouched. A keyboard shortcut for Windows is Ctrl +J and for Mac users it is Command + J. You can also do a right-click with the mouse and select duplicate layer from the pop up window.

Step 2:

Select the rectangular marquee tool and make a square near the edge of the frame, approximately the width of the vignette you want to create. 

Step 3:

With the marquee selection still showing (also known as ‘marching ants’), go to Select > Feather and a dialog box will appear where you can adjust the radius of the feathering in pixels. The higher the radius, the more gradual the vignette. 

Step 4:

If we make any adjustments at this point, only whatever is in the marquee square selection will be affected. Since we want the opposite of that, we go back to Select and choose Inverse. The new selected area will be the edges and not the area in the middle of the frame. 

Step 5: 

It’s time now to darken the edges to create a vignette. Go to Image > Adjustments > Curves and the Curves dialog box will appear. There are many things you can do with Curves to enhance an image (more on Curves in another article). Some are simple and some are a bit more complex but for this effect, it will be a very simple adjustment. Place your cursor on the bottom part of the diagonal line, click and drag down to make the line curve downward as seen in this screenshot:

It is up to you how dark you want the vignette to be. The more you drag down the lower part of the line closer to the bottom of the graph, the darker the vignette. Now that was quick and easy, wasn’t it?

This is a comparison of the original image and the final result after adding a vignette:

What if you want the vignette to be on the lighter side instead? Easy! Just do the opposite of how you adjusted the Curves graph. Place your cursor on the upper portion of the diagonal line and drag it upwards to curve like this:

This is a comparison between the original image and the end result after tweaking the Curves adjustment tool:

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Using Converging Lines in Your Images


In landscape or architectural photography, one thing that photographers look for and often want to include is the presence of converging lines, parallel lines that seem to meet in the distance. A common example would be railroad tracks. If you were to stand in the middle of the tracks, you will notice that the lines seem to go closer together until the tracks taper off to a point (also known as ‘vanishing point’) at the far end.
Using converging lines is an effective way to lead your viewer’s attention to the point of interest, as well as to give the impression of depth and dimension. The lines work to draw the eyes to a certain direction and location in the frame. Scenes or objects where you can take advantage of converging lines are hallways, roads, bridges, stairs, alleys and other locations that show parallel lines that seem to meet at the far end.
Here are some tips you will find useful when you want to include converging lines in your image:
1.Play around with positioning – there are many ways you can position the converging lines. One would be to place them in the center, making them appear symmetrical in the frame, which would provide balance as well. Another way is to position them diagonally across the frame. Diagonal lines make the image more dynamic since it implies movement.  Decide whether to use a landscape or portrait format since this also affects the final outcome. Having a low camera angle would make the converging lines give a different effect compared to if you took the shot from a high viewpoint. 
2. Use a wide angle view – various lenses can show different results when it comes to capturing converging lines. Using a wide angle lens, or a wide angle preset if your camera has one, can exaggerate the appearance of the width of the lines where they begin in the foreground. This can add visual impact to the scene. 
3. Position the convergence – the placement of where your lines seem to meet is important because this is the spot where the viewer’s eyes will ultimately be drawn to. Be strategic with the positioning of this focal point in the frame. Keep in mind that the Rule of Thirds can guide you with this, since it states that key focal areas are found at one third of the frame. You can, of course, disregard this ‘rule’ and have your vanishing point smack dab in the middle of the shot, as long as you can see that this composition would be more effective. You can even position the vanishing point off the frame, so that the lines imply that they will eventually connect in some unseen spot. This has a more subtle effect, yet can be just as successful in leading the attention to the point of interest.
4.Add interest at the point of convergence – converging lines can be an attractive subject in itself with a strong visual impact. Sometimes, however, the addition of a point of interest can bring the image up to a higher level. For instance, an image may be composed of a path in the woods. A cottage or a person located near the end of the path can make the image all the more interesting.

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Simple Tips in Getting Great Bokeh Shots


When taking a photograph, usually most of the attention is centered on the subject and very little emphasis is placed on the areas that are not in focus. A usual technique used when photographing is having a shallow depth of field to make a particular subject more prominent than the other things surrounding it. This technique makes a lot of the photographers forget the artistic possibilities of the portions that are out of focus as they center all the attention on the subject alone. In fact, the background and foreground can add more depth and visual impact to an image when everything works together.

‘Bokeh’, a term derived from the Japanese word meaning ‘haze’ or ‘blur’, is the part of an image that is not clear or in focus. The correct pronunciation of the term ‘bokeh’ has been a topic of debate in the world of photography, but a popular pronunciation would be ‘bo’ as in ‘bone’ and ‘ke’ as in ‘kettle’. Contrary to what many photographers believe, bokeh is an important aspect in adding visual impact to an image and its artistic contribution can be controlled by using basic principles which we will further discuss in detail:

Use a big aperture for a shallower depth of field (DoF) – usually bokeh is determined to be the out of focus part of a photograph which is impacted by depth of field. DoF affects how big a portion of an image is blurry. A low aperture value such as 1.8 or 2.7 will produce a shallow DoF that will make a large portion of an image blurry. A common misconception for most budding photographers is to always use the lowest aperture setting. To make an image have more visual impact, maintain a balance between the blurry portions and the objects in focus. Just because the background is out of focus doesn’t mean you will have an ideal bokeh shot.

Choose the right lens – more expensive lenses out in the market have more curved aperture blades that produce circular bokeh. An aperture consists of a lot of blades that make up a circle or octagon that allows light to pass through to the sensor. Apertures that have more blades or have curved blades produce a more defined circular shaped light bursts while those with octagonal openings produce bokeh effects closer to its shape. Depending on your preference, the choice of aperture would create the effect you would want.

Create your own custom bokeh – as of late, the technique of placing cutouts specially designed to be placed onto a lens has been in vogue for photographers seeking a more customized effect to their images. This enables photographers to have more control of the shape of the bokeh lights.  This can add a touch of creativeness to photographs. Using a black sheet of paper, shapes can be cut out from it and taped onto a lens like a lens cap. Make sure the cutout is positioned exactly in the center of the lens to produce the desired effect. The end result will show bokeh shapes that follow the design of the cutout.

Relate the foreground with the background – ideally, in every image there has to be continuity and relation among the foreground, background and subject to have visual harmony. Sometimes, what we least expect to capture in an image is the most captivating. Make sure that in some way the foreground interacts with the background.

Bokeh may be a common technique used in photography but it is given much less attention in comparison to other techniques. By focusing on bokeh and constantly testing ways to improve its effects, it can add more depth and visual impact to your images.



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3 New Storefront Templates Available!

3 brand new gold storefront templates are now available for you to use for your next event or even give your current storefront or existing event and stock albums a breath of fresh air. Take a look!


New Gold Template – Royal Classic




New Gold Template – Racing




New Gold Template – Torn (red)



To change your storefront or an exisiting event or stock album template, you may visit our Storefront Tutorial page where you will find links and guides to help you apply different templates to your albums as well as edit details of each template, giving them your own personal touch!

Enjoy the new gold templates and stay tuned for more great additions and updates!


Ilan Artzy

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7 Fantastic Tips to Capture Autumn Images


Fall is such a beautiful time of the year, when the bright green leaves of summer turn to red and gold. Rows of trees seem to be colored various shades of sunbeams and the bright blue sky is the perfect backdrop. Autumn is the season for taking breathtaking scenic images and here are some golden guidelines to capture the spirit of the season:

1.      Use filters – polarizing filters are fantastic for reducing atmospheric haze and boosting the vividness of colors. Skies become bluer and the autumn colors really become enhanced. If you don’t have one, try placing polarized sunglasses over the camera lens as a simple alternative. You can also use warming filters to make the scene appear to have a golden tint. The quick way out if you don’t have one is to add it in post processing. Most photo editing programs have photo filter options you can use to mimic the effect.

2.      Take pictures at dawn or dusk – these are called the ‘golden hours’ or ‘magic hours’, when the sun is near the horizon and it’s rays appear golden as they shine on the scene. The light is more diffused and warm during the first and last hour of sunlight, and it is the perfect time for getting those stunning autumn shots since the lighting adds to the mood.

3.      Take pictures with overcast skies – when the sun is behind a cloud, it is a good time to take out your camera, not keep it. Overcast days mean indirect and diffused sunlight, less harsh shadows, and you can still capture the various shades of yellow, orange and red in the trees and fields that fall images are known for.

4.      Use contrasting colors – if you want to put emphasis on a certain subject or area in the frame, an effective way to do so is to use color contrasts or light contrasts. For example, red contrasts with green so a red leaf would really stand out against green grass or a green leafy background. Another example is yellow contrasts with blue. You can take advantage of the blue sky as the perfect background to a row of golden trees.

5.      Adjust your white balance setting – this setting affects the color temperature of the image, and you can tweak it to make a scene appear warmer or cooler. Instead of leaving the white balance setting at ‘auto’ mode, choose an appropriate setting that would boost the effect you intend. Since we want warm tones to portray that autumn atmosphere, use the ‘cloudy’ setting to add a warm tone to the shot. Just be careful, though, because sometimes the scene may be already golden and adding a warm tone might be too much.

6.      Have variety – the beauty of autumn is found not only in the vast glorious landscapes but also in a single leaf. You can shoot in macro and capture the veined details of a leaf that is changing color or take a picture of a lone tree on a hill or a panoramic shot of a field with rows of red gold trees in the distance. You can also include foreground interest such as a person or a structure. 

7.      Don’t forget the holidays – autumn covers a span of approximately three months which vary depending what hemisphere you are in. During this time, holidays and other special occasions may be celebrated which you can take advantage of as subject matter for your shots. For instance, both Halloween and Thanksgiving are celebrated during this season in the northern hemisphere. There are hundreds of photo opportunities to be grabbed during these times so take care not to miss them.





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The 365 Photo Days Project

We’re always telling other people as well as ourselves that the best way to get better at photography is to take pictures all the time. All the photo books and tips on technique and inspiration that you read (like this one) will not mean much if you don’t literally pick up your camera and shoot. Here’s a challenge, a major one, which will push you to the limit at times but will surely hone your technique and creativity by the time it is all over.

The objective is to take a picture a day for an entire year. That’s 365 days, give or take a leap year. That doesn’t sound so bad, does it? After all, it doesn’t take much to point the camera at something, click the shutter, and be done with it. Anyone can do it in the space of one second. However, since we are trying to improve our photography skills, we would want to put a little more effort into it. This is where the challenge comes in.

There are two common ways to go about this endeavor:

Random shots – You can take shots of anything that strikes your fancy. There is no pattern or rules to follow; you will just be going with the flow of your mood. The advantage of this is that you will not feel boxed into doing something specific but the downside is there is no guideline to trigger ideas for what to shoot next. Some people prefer the freedom of randomness but others might want to go by a theme instead.

Themed images- You can divide the days into themes so that you will have more focus as to what to shoot. By following a theme or some themes, you can also improve on a specific area in your skills. For instance, if your theme is to take macro shots only, surely by the end of the year you’ll be an expert at this particular approach. Having only one theme can be very difficult, especially in the latter half of the year. To avoid feeling stifled by your theme, pick one that is specific but not limiting. For example, a theme such as ‘macro’ will leave you more room to play with compared to ‘nature macro’. You may also do several themes in the year for more variety. You can do a different theme every month or every week. It’s really up to you as long as you know you can sustain it for a long period of time. If, in the middle of the year, you change your mind and would rather do random shots, that’s perfectly fine, too.

There will be some days when you will feel like giving up, when you won’t even want to go near the camera anymore. To keep yourself motivated, why not show your photos online for others to comment and appreciate? Reading praises or tips on how you can improve your shots can keep your will strong enough to continue with the challenge. You can create a blog or upload in photo sharing sites. Even better, why not sell your daily photos as stock in PhotoStockPlus. This way, you can shoot pictures and earn at the same time.

Many have succeeded in taking a photo a day for a year without any break or lapse in the days. Others have missed a day or two, or even weeks at a time. If you do miss shooting on some days, don’t get discouraged and stop entirely. The point of the exercise is to practice shooting pictures more often than not, and this project is to help you do just that. 

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