A vignette is a picture without defined borders. Typically the photo gradually fades into a white or black background, usually in an oval shape. In the old film days, it was created during printing exposure by projecting the image through an oval hole in a black card. For soft edges, the card is held a few inches above the paper and moved around slightly. In the digital era, this effect can be easily produced using photo editing software such as Adobe Photoshop, Gimp, and my favorite, the Nikon Capture NX. Here are the simple steps to do that in Capture NX.

We start by opening the photo in Capture NX. Most editing steps, except crop, should be done prior to applying this effect. For illustration purpose, I loaded the following photo and applied a levels&curves adjustment to enhance the contrast.

Load and perform needed adjustments

Next, add a new empty edit step in the Edit List window.

Add a new empty edit step

Move your mouse cursor over the Lasso&Marquee selection tool, click and hold to reveal other tool options.

Lasso and Marquee tool options

Select the oval marquee tool.

Select the oval marquee tool

Make sure the minus selection mode is used:

Select minus oval marquee

Click on the photo and drag to create the oval selection as shown below:

Make an oval selection in minus mode

In the minus mode, the selection is the entire photo except the interior of the oval. You will also notice two black dots at the top-left and bottom-right corners of the oval. You can modify the oval shape, size, and location by dragging the black anchor dots around.

Once you are happy with the oval selection, go to the Edit List, and select the colorize effect as the adjustment for the new step.

Select colorize effect

The default color for colorize is orange, change the color to white (or whatever color you like).

White colorize

Next, we want to have a soft fade edges around the oval. Go back to the Edit List and click on the triangle next to “Feather”. Adjust the feather radius until you are happy with the results.

Feather option

Here is the final result after cropping. Nice and easy.  Try it out yourself and let me know how it turns out.

Soft fade vignette

Additional readings:
I have found out that similar technique using Capture NX has been discussed previously here. Here are a couple of tutorials for Adobe Photoshop users:

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