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When adding vignettes to your images or correcting accidental ones, you have two options: lighten or darken. Darkening the edges of your photos can add a deep, dark, vintage or even macabre quality and feel to your image and you might not even entertain the option of doing the opposite and lightening the edges.
As with any art, you must let your heart guide you, but I always find it helpful to let the original image guide my decisions. If it is high key as is the image below (taken on a bright sunny day on the beach), I chose to lighten the edges.
Use vignetting sparingly! When I first discovered digital retouching, every single image of mine had a vignette and it became sickening very quickly.
I photograph people and I like tight shots. So if I choose to do a vignette, I use Photoshop to select the foreground (usually the person), make a new layer of out it and then vignette the background layer so as not to darken the person in the process.
In the image below, you can see one is lightened and one is darkened and clearly (in my opinion, anyway) the darkened one just doesn’t make sense. It mucks up the image and detracts from its fresh, bright, high-key qualities.