03 White vignette
Next, I’m using Silver Efex Pro’s vignette tools to tone down the background. Most vignettes are dark, but this time I’m using a white vignette to fade out the background towards the edges. I’ve set the Amount value to maximum, adjusted the Circle-Rectangle slider so that the vignette has a slightly square shape, then set the Size slider so that Charlotte’s face is unaffected, but the background fades out progressively.
04 Selenium toner
I did do one more thing. Many black and white pictures do benefit from a toning effect – it gives them a richness and a depth that simply greyscale images don’t always have. Toner effects generated in other programs can be just to crude, but Silver Efex Pro’s are so subtle that on their weakest setting you hardly notice them – you get a subtle extra ‘depth’ without really realising where it’s come from.
It’s tempting to head straight for the sepia effects section when you’re toning a black and white picture, but I think a subtle blue Selenium toner effect works better here.
05 The finished portrait
This picture is a long way from the one I started with, and I think it shows the benefits of Silver Efex Pro compared to trying to work out how to do it manually in a program like Photoshop. The tonal adjustments have proved much more effective, the vignette effect proved easy to apply and I really like the depth and subtlety of the selenium toner effect.