John Suler's Photographic Psychology: Image and Psyche

Comments about Vignetting in Photographs

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vignetting in photographs

Closed in

In this shot, dark vignetting creates a closed in, introspective, and moody feeling that is accentuated by the subject's body language as well as the tight crop. The vignetting also focusses the eye on the subject, especially his face. At first glance, one might not notice the darkness around the edges in these kinds of photos. Nevertheless, the subconscious influence of the vignetting still leads us to concentrate on the center of the image and to sensations of being closed in.

vignetting in photographs

Combined effects

This photo illustrates several feelings that can be aroused by vignetting. There is a kind of peephole or tunnel effect, as if we are viewing the subject through something or from another room. The uneven quality of the vignetting also creates a sensation of instability, which complements the rather disorderly arrangement of red lights, the blur, and the fact that the subject is walking with a cane. The blur as well as the black/white treatment can also suggest memory or a fading of consciousness. In the case of these kinds of black/white photos, vignetting helps amplify the contrast of highlights and shadows, with the light manifesting at the core of the image, which offers interesting symbolic meanings.

vignetting in photographs

White vignetting

A fading of tones or pure white around the edges of the photo creates a feeling of lightness, expansiveness, and opening up. It is an airy, ethereal sensation, as if in a reverie or dream. In a more horizontal orientation, this photo of a reclining subject would capitalize on that idea of reverie and dream by its use of white vignetting. However, with the image angled upwards in a diagonal line, the subject's wide open blue eyes, and the fact that she's holding a frisbee, the white vignetting steers us more towards the idea of lightness and flight into open spaces.


Photographic Psychology: Image and Psyche