Light foreground with dark around the edges


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Nov 25, 2015
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Simple question to help my wife:

How do I achieve the look as seen in the attached link? The foreground is light and the background is ringed dark. We commonly see it in professional outdoor portrait photos and are having trouble replicating it with both camera settings and Photoshop.

kelli packer photography - Google Search

Is there a name for this effect?

My wife is using a Nikon D7000 with 50mm and 85mm prime lenses as well as a Photoshop CC subscription.

Any advice would be helpful!
I think you're asking about Vignetting.
It's a specific slider in LightRoom and in Photoshop

FYI, A couple photos I looked at are at f/2.8 on a Canon 5D Mark II Full Frame camera w/70-200 lens
Thanks Astro. Do you have a before and after example possibly so I can see if this is what she is looking for?
Unfortunately, that's not what she is looking for. "The skin in the foreground should be crisp". I'll try to find more examples.
Unfortunately, that's not what she is looking for. "The skin in the foreground should be crisp". I'll try to find more examples.
Having "crisp" skin is learning to properly focus using the proper focus mode, aperture, shutter speed and technique.
This is the various focus modes ==> focus modes - Digital Camera World

The Vignetting is done after the fact (usually in post processing).

Too slow of shutter speed will affect the "crisp" photos
Too shallow DOF / Aperture will aaffect "crisp" photos
Inaccurate metering modes and focus modes can affect the entire exposure.
Inadequate technique can affect everything.

Vignetting is added after the photo is taken. It can be added during too but usually after.
Unfortunately, that's not what she is looking for. "The skin in the foreground should be crisp". I'll try to find more examples.
If you can provide some examples of her shots then we can more accurately determine any issues.

But one can add vignetting in post processing fairly easily
==> Six Ways to Create a Vignette in Photoshop

fyi, some of the "halo" stuff look like they just used a Blur tool in white around the subject.
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To simply darken the edges of the frame equally and smoothly, you would use the vignette adjustments; Classic Vignette Photo Effect - Photoshop Tutorial

I am not a photoshop user but there is more going on in those images than adding a vignette. To achieve the effect of a halo surrounding the subject as seen in a few of the images you are going to need to apply brushes and localized masks.

With these tools you can apply subtle (or not so subtle) contrast, luminance and sharpening adjustments to specific areas of the image; vinetting photoshop - Google Search

vinetting photoshop - Google Search

Keep in mind and even research the connections between, say, sharpening and adding contrast and boosting luminance. Many of the adjustments you will perform in post production will be subtly adjusting similar values. Keep the histogram for each image in your screen and when making adjustments also watch the histogram display to assure you are not over adjusting any one value which will cause blown out highlights or overly darkened shadows. Research photoshop curves; photoshop curves - Google Search

You can also add degrees of "creative blur" which will make your subject standout from the backgrounds; photoshop tutorials blur - Google Search

One of the best techniques for learning the how and what's and why's of photography is to learn how to backward engineer an existing image you admire. The same advice applies equally to the processing of an image (with certain restrictions when looking at the work of a paid professional with several layers of discrete, individual processors being applied).

Learn the basics of the tools available to you in your version of photoshop and then backwards guess at how the image was created using those tools. Try them out on your own images and see how well you've done at guessing how an image was created from start to finish.

I would suggest you use a search engine to find your version of photoshop. Then find a general guide tutorial to its available effects/tools. Not every version will have very feature so its somewhat important you work only on the version you have available for use.

The images in that collection though have been fairly heavily edited IMO. Not always very subtly either. Skin tone adjustments are a different matter all together.

You might begin with a general tutorial on portrait processing; photoshop tutorial portraiture - Google Search

Though, whether you are trying to make corrections, adjust skin tone or simply brighten a face are all somewhat unique tools and effects; vinetting photoshop - Google Search

You can safely bet the images you show have been processed from a RAW data file. That means they will probably not be available for use if you are shooting/working with a compressed Jpeg file.

Finally, I wouldn't want to try to capture exactly what another photographer has done and is showing in their portfolio. Chances are they may have gone through several different processors to achieve their final image. If you don't have all of the software they have used, you will not get what they turn out.

Every photoshop effect has a tutorial you can access.

Every photoshop effect you view on line has a image catalog attached to it which can help you narrow down which tools to use for a specific effect.

View the images in the catalog and get a sense of what you want to achieve - other than a bit by it recreation of someone else's work - and try them out. As long as you have a back file for the original image, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain through experimentation.

Additionally, workflow is somewhat important to the final look of an image. Not everyone works in the same way with similar images. Adding sharpening at this stage vs that stage can effect the look of the image. Take a look at how various photographers work on portraits; photoshop prtraiture workflow - Google Search

If you're in a time crunch and need to replicate an effect quickly without understanding what you are doing or how you are doing it, I suspect a photoshop pro will add more specific instructions in another post.
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I appreciate the advice.

Here's the best example of what I could find that she is looking for with the vignette look and sharp skin.

This is a lower resolution sample of what she is working with, and I'm not sure if this effect would be possible on this particular picture.

Thanks, soufiej. I think she is just learning what styles she prefers and this is one artist (Kelli Packer) that she admires and wants to get close to stylistically.


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I appreciate the advice.

Here's the best example of what I could find that she is looking for with the vignette look and sharp skin.

View attachment 111931
I don't think you are allowed to post other ppl's photographs. You can provide a link.

Camera EXIF
Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Lens: EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM
Shot at 140 mm
Exposure: Manual exposure, 1/200 sec, f/3.2, ISO 320

But look at the photo.
notice the light coming from behind her hitting her hair and legs.
If this is not a flash (behind her facing forward that you cannot see) then it was properly planned for the time of day and location.
In her About page she says she like to take shots outdoors with natural light, near sunset, and then do a lot of post-processing work in PhotoShop.
A few shots I checked were shot at or close to wide-open on f/1.4 and f/2.8 lenses.
Most shots look like some background blur, some sun-rays, some color adjustment to the background, etc. In her Christmas card set you can see where the light was added to the lanterns in some shots and seemed to be a theme.
There are many ways to do this.
First, your boys are out in the cold sunshine; typically portraits are warmer.
There is lots of room around them and it is bright so all the attention drains away,
so, crop them so they are larger and more important in the frame,
Warm up the image
Thenkeep the center bright while darkening the periphery. (I used this technique Non-Destructive Dodge and Burn in Photoshop)


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