Eyes on Africa Days 6/7 Part II: A Lightroom Lesson for Outdoor Portraiture

Here is a cool tip from my friend and fellow Canon Explorer of Light Tyler Stableford. Take it away Tyler . . .

A Lightroom Lesson For Outdoor Portraiture

Among the many features of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2, one of my hands-down favorites is the Vignette tool.

When I shot a multimedia documentary in Ethiopia this winter on the country's orphan crisis, my goal was to connect the viewers deeply and personally with the Ethiopian people. In this portrait of the orphaned girl Frehiwot Abera, I wanted to showcase her amazing eyes and the sadness embedded in her face. The midday light at an altitude of 8,000 feet was harsh, so I placed her backlit to the sun, with a concrete wall behind me adding a bit of fill light. I shot at a wide aperture to keep a shallow depth of field, directing the attention only to her.

In Lightroom, I used the Lens Correction sliders "Amount" and "Midpoint" in the Vignette panel to heavily darken the edges of the image. (Note that I prefer the Lens Correction pane over the Post Crop pane, as the results look more natural.) Notice how this vignette draws your attention to Frehiwot's eyes, and prevents you from bouncing around the rest of the image.

The intensity you choose is purely a matter of taste; experiment with this tool, and you'll find a whole new level of power in your portraits!

To see more images from the shoot and a 7-minute multimedia video shot with two Canon EOS 5D Mark II cameras, click here.

Tyler Stableford was named by Men's Journal as one of the seven "World's Greatest Adventure Photographers," and he is one of Canon's distinguished Explorers of Light. Visit his news blog.