Photography by J.D. Magers

3 Uses for the On1 10 White Vignette Filter

Added on by J.D. Magers.

When is the last time you used a White Vignette to round out one of your photographs? Yesterday?  I doubt it.  The white vignette usually looks awful, and I doubt anyone really uses it on a regular basis in their workflow.  But working in On1 10 a few weeks back, I accidentally clicked on it while processing a photo from the Adams County museum.  The white vignette made the photo look good to me.  What was this crazy notion?

We all know that a vignette is used to either darken or lighten the edges of the frame.  With a dark vignette, the viewers eye is contained within the photograph and naturally moves back to the subject.  But the eye is naturally drawn to the brightest item in the scene.  If the white vignette is the brightest part of the photograph, I think the eye will automatically move towards it.  Since there is nothing to block the eye (like in a dark vignette), the eye drifts out of the borders and off the photograph.  This sends a signal to our brain that the white vignette looks awful and the photograph isn't worth viewing.  We want to move on.  This is exactly what we don't want.

So why then did my eye resonate with the image from the museum.  When I think back of all the photographs I've seen, the ones that have a white vignette were all old photographs with a vintage feel.  As this was the type of photo I was working on in On1, it made sense to me that the white looked good.  The image below of The Sheriff was taken at the Colorado Railroad Museum during one of their daily reenactments.  Working in On1 Effects 10, I used a preset within the program under the Colleen Scott Texas header.  The preset I used was Austin City Limits.  This gave the original the vintage look that I wanted.  The only thing left to do was add the white vignette filter under the Vignette Filters menu.  I liked it, but the white overlay was too bright for my taste, so I lowered the opacity of that particular layer down to what you see below.  

The Sheriff

So that was one image where a white vignette looks pretty good.  I started searching through my archives to see other potential candidates that may work as well.  The company this cheesecake came from is sadly no longer in business (We miss you Cheesecake Therapy!).  This photograph is single serve cheesecake sitting on a white plate on a glass table next to an East facing window.  There is nothing but natural light here.  What made me want to experiment here is all the open white space already in the corners.  Working solely in Lightroom on this one, I processed the photo to get a little more detail in the dark crust, and then do a little bit in curves until the white plate looked correct.  The white vignette then went on top.  When I darkened my screen in Lightroom (the L key), my eye didn't escape the photo.  The white vignette was keeping me focused on the subject, which is exactly what I wanted.  Speaking of wants, now I want cheesecake again...


I now had a second image that looked great with a White Vignette.  Could there be a third?  Continuing to scan for a photo, I saw this one from 2013 where the candy canes were shot on a white chair (we have a lot of white furniture in my house if you couldn't tell).  After seeing what the white vignette could do on the predominately white background of the food photograph, I wanted to confirm that while seeing what it could do for the rest of the image.  

Working in On1 10 Effects again, I applied the White Edges filter.  They're the same type of filter, just with a different feathering and size.  When I first saw it, I immediately got the feeling that Christmas was right around the corner.  Or maybe that was my four year old coming around the corner and asking me if this photo meant Christmas was tomorrow.  This image works for me too.  The really shallow depth of field helps make this photo look kind of dreamy to me, and the white edges vignette helps to accentuate that.  Ironically though, I tried to make this photo look even more dreamy by working in the glow module, but I didn't like it.  I thought it was too much.

Candy Canes

There you have it.  Maybe the white vignette filter doesn't look so awful after all.  I think it can be useful in images taken in broad daylight that have been processed with a vintage feel, or food images in natural light, or when you are going for a dreamy, I'm wishing for something I want kind of image.  I wasn't sure if it could be done, but next time I won't be so dismissive of the white vignette filter.  You should give it a try too...

That's all for today.  As always, thank you for reading.  Come back tomorrow when I reveal who my current top 10 sources of photographic inspiration are...