How to add vignette effects in Photos on the Apple Mac

On the surface, the Photos app on the Apple Mac looks like a simple browser for viewing your snapshots, but there are useful features for enhancing your images just waiting to be discovered.

One of those features is the vignette effect. This darkens the image from the edges and corners, and progressively getting lighter towards the centre. It can be a very subtle and hardly noticeable effect, or it can be really heavy to the point of making the image circular on a black background.

It is not an effect you will want to use on every photo, but occasionally with the right subject, it can enhance a photo and make it look even better than the original.

Open the Photos app, browse your photo collection and find one that has the subject in the centre of the picture or quite near to the centre. It does not work well with off center subjects. Also, landscapes are not usually good for vignettes because there is no subject apart from the beautiful scenery, but a head and shoulders portrait of someone is suitable because of the focus on the centre of the image.

Click the Edit button in the top right corner.

Photos app on the Apple Mac

The interface changes to a dark theme for the editor and down the right hand side is a collection of tools. Click the Adjust tool.

Vignette tool in Photos on the Apple Mac

Light, Color and Black and White are automatically displayed, but there are other tools that are hidden. Click the Add button at the top and select Vignette

Vignette tool in Photos on the Apple Mac

A vignette strength control is displayed. Click on it with the mouse and drag left and right to change the effect. Drag to the right to make the corners of the photo darker or drag to the left to make them lighter. It is a choice between fading to black or to white.

Vignette tool in Photos on the Apple Mac

When the mouse hovers over Vignette an arrow appears on the right. Click it to expand the control and get access to two more options - radius and softness. To show you the effect of these, the strength and radius have been set to maximum. You probably wouldn’t want such a strong vignette, but you can easily see the difference between this image and the previous one, even though only the edge of the image is shown.

Vignette tool in Photos on the Apple Mac

When effects like vignette are applied, there is a blue tick next to them. Compare the before and after images by clicking the tick on and off. It is a handy way to see how effects change the image. If you are happy with the look of the image, click the Done button at the top of the screen or click Revert to Original if you want to undo everything.

The vignette effect can be combined with other effects and one builds upon another. Here the photo has been converted to black and white.

Photos on the Apple Mac

The vignette effect has been overdone here, but the difference between this image and the original is striking. The monochrome colour combined with the vignette give the image an aged look that suites the subject. Take a look at the cropped image at the top and the effect is more subtle.



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