In this week’s YouTube video, I shared my favourite Nik Collection filters for editing sunset photos. The image used in the video is the one above, which initially didn’t have obvious clouds and colour. The video demonstrates how you can improve most sunset photos using one of three filters in the Nik Collection.
The adjustments in the video are a little strong to ensure you
can see them, but the techniques and tips are solid. I also used all three
filters on the image which I wouldn’t recommend. One or two of the Nik
Collection filters are all you really need.
Luminar 3 Competition
If you haven’t seen yesterday’s post, do take a moment to read it. I’m giving away a Luminar 3 license which I bought by mistake. Yes, I can be that scatter-brained. The competition’s open until the 30th April 2019 when my wife will draw the winner at random.
Friday Image No. 217
Although I’ve used the Friday Image in my YouTube video, I did want to share it. I shot it last weekend whilst meeting up with a couple of friends that I used to work with. The weather on the day wasn’t quite as forecast. The initial fog quickly burned off (unfortunately) with a clear blue sky replacing it (not a cloudy one). Then, quite quickly, a strong blue haze developed with a few wispy high clouds. The high contrast conditions were terrible for landscape photography, but we persevered.
Towards the end of the day, we grew quite hopeful that we would have a nice sunset. Unfortunately, this wasn’t to be and most of the compositions we had available didn’t work well with the conditions. The only composition that looked slightly interesting was the one you see above. I reasoned that I would be able to improve the sunset and enhance the light on the lake, by editing the photo in Nik. It isn’t a wonderful shot, but it serves a good purpose.
I have a few more articles planned and a couple of suggestions for others that I will include. If anyone wants to add to my list, please post a comment below. I’m always on the lookout for ideas, especially when they help people.
Once I’ve finished building the Nik resources, I’m probably going to start on another piece of software. I’m still undecided what, but I’m currently considering Affinity Photo. Again, let me know what you think in the comments.
It sounds simple, doesn’t it? If you want to use the Nik Collection in Lightroom, you right click and choose “Edit in” from the popup menu. You can then pick the Nik Collection plugin you want to use from the list. But life and Lightroom aren’t always quite this simple.
Have you tried to use Nik HDR Efex with this technique? By default, you can’t. It’s not in the list of available plugins. And what about all those new image files each time you launch the Nik Collection from Lightroom? How can you better manage those?
There’s a lot more to using the Nik Collection in Lightroom than is immediately obvious. That’s why I’ve published a free video tutorial explaining how to best use the Nik Collection in Lightroom. I even demonstrate how to add the missing HDR Efex plugin to the “Edit in” menu.
This is the first of a series of Nik Collection tutorials I’m intending to publish. I’m calling the series Bitesize Nik Tutorials, with each video being between 5 and 10 minutes (but don’t hold me to that). I already have 12 ideas to progress, but if you have any requests, please let me know. I will be publishing a new video on YouTube each week, usually on a Thursday. If you want to be sure not to miss any, you can subscribe to my YouTube channel.
I have been receiving a lot of emails asking me if I have looked at the new Nik Collection which DxO released last week. Yes, I have looked at it and purchased a copy.
In short, the new software is all about fixing bugs and problems. The interface is the same as before and there’s no new functionality. And now you’re probably wondering why I shelled out hard earned money for software that does just what it did before.
If you’re a user of the Nik Collections, you’re probably aware that Google withdrew support and ceased development of the tools earlier this year. Yesterday I heard the news that DxO has purchased the Nik assets from Google and they have already integrated the Control Point technology into their DxO Photo Labs software. Some time back I was a user of DxO, but found it slow in comparison to other tools. With the integration of Control Point technology, I can see DxO software tacking a major step forward.
Having downloaded and tried the DxO Photo Labs software, I’m very impressed with its capabilities on my Olympus and Sony RAW files. The only issue I have at present is that it doesn’t support many of the Fuji RAW files including the X-T1 or X-T2. Unfortunately, this is enough to prevent me making a purchase.
If you want to read more you can find the announcement here
This also includes a link to download the current version of the Nik Collection if you need to reinstall it (such as after upgrading Photoshop).
This is great news for the Nik Collection as not only integrating the control point technology into their own products, they are planning a new release of the Nik Collection next year. Once the new release is available I plan to invest time revising and updating my Nik Collection books.
In my Friday Image post I mentioned I may head out to Saddleworth Moor on Saturday morning. I did walk up there but it didn’t look promising for photography. Storm Brian was on the way and it was already raining hard. But, by the time I had walked from home to the edge of the moors, the sky had broken (it was damn windy though) and I decided to take a few shots.
The image you see here is two images stitched in Lightroom. These were taken handheld using the Fuji X-T2. I chose the Fuji due to its weather resistant properties. I also used a new 0.6 hard grad filter on the sky; I will have more to tell you about my new filters in the near future.
Back home, I opened Lightroom to downloaded my images and got the message I hate; there were Adobe updates. With so many companies moving to the Software as a Service (SaaS) model, I’m now constantly updating software and getting less done.
This release was though a little different. I was interested because I had heard Lightroom now had Luminosity Masking and I was curious. I couldn’t understand why they had chosen to include this a s a feature in Lightroom when you already had great tone controls.
As Photoshop is a new major release, I fully expected to reinstall may various plug-ins after the upgrade. I was quite surprised this time though to find that most plug-ins were still present after the upgrade. The only exception was the Nik Collection which was now missing.
Each time this happens, you see lots of rumours spread on the internet that Nik is not compatible with the latest Photoshop release. I can report this isn’t the case. Although the Nik Collection is removed in the upgrade, you can download and install it again. I have tested it with both my Mac and Windows PC and the Nik filters work fine.
The image you see above was converted to black and white using Nik Silver Efex Pro from within Photoshop 2018.
The Lightroom upgrade was also very smooth. It was though a little confusing initially; for some reason Adobe has chosen to rename it to Lightroom Classic. I’m sure the reason for this will become apparent in the future.
A few things have struck me already about the new release:
Be prepared to upgrade your Lightroom Catalogue. Most people have just one catalogue which isn’t a problem. If you have multiple catalogues it becomes a bit of a faff.
There is a new processing engine buried in the update. If you look in the Develop module at the Camera Calibration tab, you see the Process version listed at the top. The old one is “Version 3 (2012)” but now we have “Version 4”. If you have images imported under the previous version you will need to switch them manually if you want to use the new process. You can do this individually or you can make a bulk change. Bulk processing can be applied by clicking the small icon to the bottom right of the histogram. It looks like a lightning bolt and appears when you have an image selected which was imported under an older processing version. I have yet to understand the full benefits of the new process.
The selection tools (Gradient, brush etc.) now feature a Range Mask. This is something I didn’t know I needed until I tried it. Having made a selection, the Range Mask allows you to further refine that selection based on either colour or brightness (luminance). This means you can select a large area of your image but then refine the selection to avoid adjusting say the shadows or the highlights. I actually did some dodging and burning on the above image using the Range Mask to prevent anything becoming a pure black mass and its brilliant.
I’m quite impressed with the new Lightroom tools and will look to post something on my You Tube channel soon to demonstrate.
A few blog readers appear to like my recent Trinnacle Rock image, so I decided to publish a video on You Tube demonstrating the editing. But rather than just concentrate on the editing, I have tried to share my thought process around the editing. This explains the how and why of my processing decisions.