The vignettes we are looking at in this post are done during the finishing of your images. I use Adobe Lightroom 4 for most of my editing and all the vignettes here were done using that program.
What I want to look at is the proper way to use vignettes to draw the views eyes. In my opinion if it becomes more than a subtle drawing of the eyes then it begins to distract from the actual subject. I am going to show you six images versions of the same image in this post. The first three show how I would use the vignettes starting with my most often used version.
In this first example I didn't use the vignette in Lightroom at all. It really is okay to not use them so don't be afraid to keep the image as is.
Often times when you find a new way to edit you also tend to go overboard and use it on every single image you make. I know I am guilty of this and I would shudder to show you some of my first HDR images after I discovered that process.
In the second example I am showing you how I use the vignette most often. It acts as a way to draw the views eye to the subject. You will actually notice very little difference because I want it to almost be unseen. If you look closer you can tell that your eye is drawn more to the subjects.
This third example works pretty well for this image due to it's nature with the silvery background. In this example I am showing my most extreme example of vignette. I do not like to go much more than this but if I say never then that is a guarantee I will end up using a more extreme effect.
Now we get to take a look at the thing I would never do with a vignette.... again... Yes, I said again because when I discovered the slider in Lightroom I overused it by a great deal.
In example 4 you can see that I turned the amount slider all the way down. Not only do the edges go back but you can see a more defined shape to the vignette. It is starting to become more and more noticeable at this point and lends to some viewer distraction.
Example 5: This is an extreme use of the vignette and the feathering is nearly turned off. It shows a more defined line that is clearly a distraction. Remember, anything that causes you to fixate on something other than your subject is usually a very bad thing.
Now, the very last example. There are VERY few example in which this works. The eye is drawn to the brightest part of an image. If it is the vignette then the viewers eye is going to keep return there and away from your subject.
All and all vignettes are great to use and I do use them to some degree on every image I make but don't let it become something that you overuse and abuse.