This life in pictures.

Through the Frames: Why I Vignette

I’ve been threatening this post for a couple of months now, but being slow to get back into a regular shooting schedule kept me from having the appropriate selection of images to include. The stretch of unseasonably warm and awesome weather last week got me up and out with a camera in one hand and a 4 year old in the other. While it’s true that i was revisiting all of the old haunts that I’ve grew sick of already, but the hiatus helped to give me a fresh perspective.

Anyway, the reason I’ve gathered you all here today is to talk about vignetting. More specifically, the reason why i use vignette so damn much! It’s something that more than a couple of people have made snarky comments about in the past, and I readily admit I have taken the effect too far at times. What people don’t really understand, however, that i see my world in constant vignette. I wear glasses. Worse yet, thick black framed glasses. My whole world is darkened around the edges!

Seems a simple explanation, doesn’t it? From the time I take a photo all the way through the editing process, the photo just doesn’t quite look right until I move that magic slider to the left in Lightroom.

Anywho, now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s talk about the photo. My family decided to start up a new tradition of a weekly nice weather evening picnic. This happened to be the end of the inaugural outing (the weather has since turned back to seasonal for march). We had spread our blanket besides the waterfall next to the Assembly in Harrisville, RI. This photo was taken on our walk back from exploring the falls. I had my longer lens (40-150mm, f4-5.6 Zuiko) fitted to my Olympus E-600 and I decided to hang back for awhile as my wife and daughter walked hand in hand towards the glow of sunset.

I’ve kind of fallen in love with leaving the camera set in aperture priority mode with f8.o selected as a standard. So far, that setup has yielded consistently useful results and I admit guilt for not pushing myself out of that bit of complacency, but whatever… it worked out here. I manually set the white balance for clouds and nudged the exposure compensation to -1 to darken things up a bit (as I type this, I realize that shooting in RAW and editing in Lightroom probably make this bit of info less relevant). Being in aperture priority, the camera automatically selected an ISO of 800 and shutter speed of 1/200th of a second.

As I said, I was hanging back quite a bit, so I was zoomed in all the way to 150mm. On the Olympus E-600, that gives an equivalency of a 300mm lens on a 35mm film camera. Even so, I still had to crop a bit in Lightroom to get rid of some distracting elements at the edges of the frame. I tried very hard to keep this a color image, but it was just too dull. I couldn’t really get much contrast into the scene until I took the color out. I made the conversion by simply pushing the black and white button and adjusted the contrast by tweaking the curves then using the scrub tool in the black and white adjustment panel.

Once that was all done, I had to deal with a bit of noise. Sadly, the E-600 is a pretty noisy camera, and this image was pretty loud. I found that by trying to remove too much of the noise in Lightroom, I was causing the image to blur. The solution was to ease back on the noise reduction a bit, then add in some film grain to mask everything. Then I added in some ever present vignetting and I was done. I did add quite a bit of vignetting in this case, as I really wanted the it to help move the eye into the photo and up into the glowing sky.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with how this one turned out. I really like the way the sunlight is outlining the girls and the overall contrast of the photo. I really wish I could have gotten them just before their hands separated. I think that small detail detracts from the overall image quite a bit, actually. They were way too far away at that point to hear me yelling about it over the passing traffic, though, and a retake would have looked too staged, so I let it go.

I have uploaded a couple of other images from that picnic to my Flickr page. If all has gone to plan, they should be appearing to the right here (if you’re reading this within a few days of posting, anyway). Please take a moment to check out some of my other photos if you like what I do.

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