Dos and Don’ts in Photography

Selective Color, White Vignettes, and Oval Frames- OH MY!

The good news is that there are a lot of great programs out there that make digital art accessible to everyone, from the free programs like Picnik to the affordable programs such as Photoshop Elements. The bad news is that I’ve been tempted lately to post on Facebook, “STOP with the 80’s digital art! You are hurting my eyes!.” Since I can’t do that, I’ll share with you the dos and don’ts of digital art so you can avoid the mistakes that let everyone know you are an amateur from another century.


White Vignette


  • BW Spot ColorUse White Vignettes. Ever.
  • Use Selective Color. You may find one or two images in your whole life that really will benefit from selective color, save it for those special images. If you have already found two images, you are finished, no more selective color for you.
  • Instead of making digital mats for images that will look great in oval frames, buy an oval frame. Digital mats are to enhance images, not hide things from the viewer.
  • Overuse any setting. Digital art is not a substitute for getting the image right in the camera.


Photography Do- Appropriate Mat

  • Learn to use a subtle black vignette to enhance your image and draw the eye to your subject. The key is to make it so your viewer has no idea you used a vignette.
  • Learn to photograph so that your subject is what the eye sees first when your image is viewed. If you have to color your subject so it screams at the viewer to look at it then you need to learn more about using your camera.
  • Understand why and how digital mats enhance the viewers experience of your image. For example, sometimes an image needs a mat to “contain” it. Using a mat that contains the image is appropriate if the mat “disappears” and makes the images “pop”.
  • Learn to use depth of field, focus and light to engage the eye of your viewer. Yes, you can blur stuff with your digital art program, you can lighten stuff and darken stuff and move stuff- and it will never look as well as it could if you photographed it appropriately. Learn to spend a few seconds before you click the shutter to really look at the image you propose to capture. Make sure the light is right, the background is clear from posts coming out of people’s heads, horizon lines cutting people, etc. Again, get it right in the camera and only use digital art sparingly.

Black Vignette


  1. Fantastic basic rules about photography. I completely agree with selective color as well as vignetting. Getting it right In camera will make your job 10 times easier, the only problem is sometimes (wedding photography for instance) you don’t always have time to get it right in camera because moments can be incredibly fleeting.

  2. i have to agree with Derek, the fence was quite distracting in the last photo on this page. my eyes were more drawn to this than the actual photo it’s self.

  3. You explain about using a black vignette and mention you want to draw the attention of the viewer to the photo. I’m just wondering why then do you have steel cables of a fence in your photo i consider that distracting?

  4. I agree Gitta, HDR is it’s own style of photography and does require photo editing. It seems so unreal because it’s unlike photos we’ve ever seen before and yet when we look at a scene in real life our eyes adjust to the dark areas & light areas as our eyes move around so it’s really a truer depiction of what we see.

  5. Thanks for the post. Agree with most except maybe using photo edit programs sparingly. I try to get into HDR, so without e.x. Photomatix this would be impossible, right ?

  6. It is that portion of the picture elements that are in focus, from the closet to the furtherest. Things out of the depth of field are not in focus.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.