A Peek at Lightroom 3: Imaging Effects
This is the third in a series of four articles covering the new Lightroom 3 Beta from Adobe Systems. The previous article covered the improved capture sharpening and noise reduction capabilities available in Lightroom 3 Beta.
This article focuses on a new area in the Develop Module called Effects. This section of the module currently houses the Post-Crop Vignetting tool from Lightroom 2 (with a couple new ways of controlling the vignette) and the new Grain tool, which can add an aura of grittiness or film-like character to otherwise uniformly textured digital images.
Post-Crop Vignetting was originally introduced to Lightroom as a means of applying a symmetrical vignette effect to your images after you’ve cropped them and applied other corrections. This shouldn’t be confused with the Lens Vignette function (now in the Lens Corrections section of the Develop module), which is used to correct any unwanted light fall-off you might have in one or more corners of your image. Lens Vignetting can be caused by a variety of factors including lens design, lighting in a room, angle of the shot relative to the light, or all three.
Effectively then, Post-Crop Vignetting is a stylistic tool, while Lens Vignetting is a tool for correcting image flaws. To get a predictable effect, you will want to use Lens Vignetting first, especially if you notice any dark areas along the periphery of your shot. This way you can avoid having one corner or area of the image that appears to have a stronger or weaker vignette than the rest of the image after Post-Crop Vignetting.
Previously Post-Crop Vignetting had four controls: Amount, Midpoint, Roundness and Feather. These control the intensity, “diameter,” shape, and edge diffuseness of the vignette, respectively. However, these weren’t always enough to provide a realistic or “natural”-looking vignette effect (ironically, one that could be compared to what a Lens Vignette looks like, only more uniformly applied across the image).
To improve things, Adobe has added the Style and Contrast controls to Post-Crop Vignetting, as seen in Figure 1.
Figure 1 Post-Crop Vignetting now offers more control over your vignette styling than prior versions, allowing for more natural-looking results.
The Style pop-up menu allows Lightroom to optimize the vignette areas in a way that will either do a better job of preserving the highlights around your image or that will preserve the color character of those same areas instead.
The Contrast control allows you to avoid odd-looking contrast problems such has having a very bright highlight along the dark edge of the vignette or, alternatively, allows you to punch up the contrast a bit if the darkening effect of the vignette causes the image to “flatten out” in appearance. Just as looking at a finished image inside of a black matte will give a very different perceptual result than looking at the same image inside a grey matte, vignettes can also affect this perception.
Contrast allows you to fine-tune the relationship between dark and light in your image. Figures 2-4 show an example of a file that has no vignette applied, a highlight-priority Post-Crop vignette, and a Color priority Post-Crop Vignette. The differences can be subtle, but that’s the general idea: to give photographers that extra little bit of control to make the image “pop.”
Figures 24 Here you can see the subtle levels of control the new Post-Crop vignette tool offers those photographers who wish to style their images in this way.