Tag Archives: nik silver efex

Return of the Friday Image

Staircase inside St Paul's Cathedral in black and white
Inside St Paul’s Cathedral. Fuji X-T3 with 18-135 lens. Processed using Nik Silver Efex 2.

I’ll start with an apology. I haven’t posted a Friday image for the past two weeks. The first week I was away in the Lake District in an area with no phone or internet access. It was wonderful but scary at the same time. It was my intention to share an image from the trip today but then something shiny distracted me. An upgrade to the Nik Collection (to version 2.3) and Silver Efex Pro to be precise. That’s when I decided to share this image.

If you haven’t seen version 2.3 yet, it’s all about black and white. Nik Silver Efex Pro has a whole bunch of new film simulations. You can find these in the “Film Types” section which is the area I call the “best-kept secret”. That’s because people don’t use it for some reason. You’ll find the new simulations in the dropdown list at the top of the section. As you scroll through the list you see your preview reflect each film. Just click the one you like best.

After that, if you like to play with things (as I do) you can tweak the colour response, grain and tone curve. There’s a lot of control here and whilst you could probably arrive at some of the effects yourself, it’s great that DxO has added these films. It makes life easy. You can find out more on their website.

I’ve done a few images with the new films and they appear a good match to what I would expect. It also reminds me of how much I miss black and white film photography. I still have hundreds of rolls of ADOX CMS20, Rollie IR, Rollie Retro 100 and Kodak TMax in my freezer as well as a few others. I think I need to dig out my XPan to shoot some.

Friday Image No. 236

I captured this week’s image back in August on a trip to London. Having worked in central London for some 8 years I find I miss it, but now when I visit, I like to do the tourist thing. This time I visited St Paul’s Cathedral which is where I took this shot. Yes, they now allow photography in the cathedral so visit soon before they change their mind.

This scene is from one of the staircases which the guide said featured in one of the Harry Potter films (I wouldn’t know). The shot was handheld using a Fuji X-T3 and 18-135 lens at 18mm. Shutter speed 1/20” at f/6.4 and ISO1600. I converted the RAW file in Capture One before taking it into Nik Silver Efex Pro 2. It’s still my favourite black and white converter by far.

I hope you like the image and have a great weekend.

Friday Image No.211

Foggy sunset looking across Hope Valley in the Peak District
Foggy sunset looking across Hope Valley in the Peak District. Fuji X-T2, Fuji 55-200 at 75mm, ISO200, 1/210″ at f/9.0. Tripod and 0.9 (three stop) Soft Kase ND Grad filter.

I captured this image a few weeks back now. At the time I wasn’t sure quite how best to process it and to be honest I’m still not sure.

I captured this from Bamford Edge in the Peak District looking across Hope Valley to the cement works. It was a little before sunset and the conditions were quite challenging. Not because they were unpleasant but because the light was so bright. The valley was filling with fog and the low sun was streaking through the clouds. I couldn’t see the image properly on the back of the camera and even using the viewfinder I was struggling.

At the time it looked like the conditions were so bright that they exceeded the cameras dynamic range, even using a three-stop Kase Soft ND Grad filter. I did bracket the shot (with the filter) using five exposures. My thinking was that I would create an exposure blend, but the image above is a single exposure. With some tweaking in Lightroom, I was able to control the exposure enough to create a good base image. Much of the processing was then with Luminosity Masks (using Lumenzia) before converting to black and white using Nik Silver Efex Pro.

I’m probably going to revisit the image when I have more time.

Have a great weekend.

Finding Hidden Gems in Your Work

Bamburgh, Northumberland.
Bamburgh, Northumberland. Canon 5D MKII, ISO50, f/18, 1.6″

Back in winter 2013, I visited Bamburgh in Northumberland with a friend. We had both been to the area quite a few times and we had high hopes for our trip. As we made our way down to the beach for what we were sure would be an amazing sunrise, our expectations were sky high. As it turned out, there was some faint colour in the otherwise stormy sky and we found ourselves battered by the wind and rain.

The following day was equally disappointing but for different reasons. We went down to the beach again and readied ourselves for the sunrise. It was already raining hard and the wind was making it very difficult to shoot, even with a sturdy tripod. We sat in the car wondering what to do, waiting for the last moment when, if the sun broke through we would run down and catch the scene.

What happened next was amazing. The sun did break through and lasted only a few minutes, but the sunrise was like nothing I have never seen before. It was as if a weeks’ worth of amazing sunrises were compressed into a few minutes. If I described the scene as nuclear it would not be an understatement. But I’m not going to show the shots from that sunrise. They simply look unreal. The best word I can use to describe the images now is vulgar. Even the unprocessed RAW files look fake.

What I am sharing though is one of the many “failed” images from the first morning. I happened across this image looking for examples to use in my Nik Silver Efex book (I decided the original needs an update).

But here’s the interesting things. There were dozens of great images from that first morning and I had been blind to them. I suspect the disappointment of the trip lingered long in my memory

when it failed to meet expectations. It’s only now when I come to work on the image, having separated myself from the shooting, that I can really see the beauty of the morning.

It’s always worth checking your old archives.

Friday Image No. 192.

Stairs in the Maritime Museum, Amsterdam
Stairs in the Maritime Museum, Amsterdam. Fuji X-T2, 18-135 lens, ISO200, 1/100″ at f/5.6. Post processing with Nik Silver Efex Pro.

After a short break in Amsterdam last week, I’m now getting back into the groove of doing some work.

This week’s Friday image is one I shot whilst I was in Amsterdam (what a great city and nice people by the way – I’m definitely going to return for another visit). This shot isn’t what first springs to mind when you think about Amsterdam, but the view really caught my attention.

These stairs were inside the maritime museum. As you walked out onto the landing there were stairs leading down both sides before meeting on the landing of the next floor. As I walked down the stairs I couldn’t help but feel I had stepped into the Relativity drawing by Escher.

Correcting the perspective on this image was a little tricky and I can’t quite get it perfect. I did the conversion to black and white using Nik Silver Efex Pro and tried hard to emphasise the lines of the stairs.

I hope you like the shot and have a great weekend.

No Friday Image

Water Tower at Spurn Point.
Water Tower at Spurn Point. Nikon D800, 24-120mm Nikon f/4 lens, ISO100, 1/160″ at f/13. Conversion to B&W in Nik Silver Efex Pro.

If you’re a regular follower of this blog, you will have noticed there wasn’t a Friday Image last week. This is because I was in Amsterdam for a short break with my wife where we also met up with our daughter, her husband and our grandson. We returned on Saturday and I headed over to Spurn Point with a friend on Sunday.

As a lot of readers won’t be familiar with the area I should explain. On the North East coast of the UK we have the large city and port of Hull. If you travel through Hull and out to the end of the Humber Estuary you will come to Spurn Point, which is a tidal sand island. There isn’t much there except a lighthouse, Lifeboat Station and this old water tower.

Our intention had been to shoot some of the sea defences there. The weather had forecast cloudy and we thought it sounded promising. Unfortunately, the forecast was wrong. The sky was clear blue with the exception of a few wispy clouds on the horizon. The sea defences will be worth shooting in the future but not in the conditions we had.

When I spotted this water tower I could immediately see the potential for converting it to mono. What surprised me thought was that the colour version is quite nice.

Colour image prior to conversion with Nik Silver Efex Pro.

I also need to admit to something as a few of you will spot this and ask questions. I have bought another Nikon D800. The camera was an absolute bargain; it looks like new and has only a few thousand on the shutter count.

The last time I bought a D800 I hated it and sold it 4 months later. This time, I’m really enjoying it. The difference seems to be the lenses I bought. One of the lenses is a 24-120mm f/4.0 which this image was captured with. With this on the camera, I’m finding it a pleasure to use. It also has VR which allows me to shoot at surprisingly slow shutter speeds. This is never going to be my main camera (I like the Fuji X-T2 too much) but it’s very impressive and the results are excellent.

Friday Image No.179

Stanage Edge, The Peak District. Fuji X-T2, 16-55mm Fuji Lens at 16mm. ISO200, 1/20″ at f11.0. Kase Wolverine 0.6 ND Hard Grad filter.

This week I’m doing something a little different. I’m sharing this image, not because I think it’s great, but because I had to make something out of nothing. If you’re interested, here is the starting image.

The starting image prior to the processing shown in the video.

The reason for my problem is that I haven’t had much time recently to shoot new work. The weather hasn’t been great but now seems to be improving. I have also been wrapped up in developing and launching a new course (Mastering Photoshop Luminosity Masks); you can watch the first section for free using this link. On top of that, there have been photography club presentations to make, which are great fun but take lots of preparation.

The real reason I wanted to share this though is that I recorded the creation of the image in full. From Lightroom into Photoshop, processing with Nik and then additional dodging and burning in Photoshop. I posted the full video on YouTube.

I will warn you though, it’s about 30 minutes long. If you want to subscribe to the channel, this is the link to use (https://goo.gl/GCZq33).

Have a great weekend.

Friday Image No. 148

Padley Gorge, The Peak District. Sony A7R, Canon 16-35 L, ISO100, f/16.0, 1.3″. Processing in Lightroom, Nik Silver Efex Pro and Photoshop

It’s been a very busy week this past week. My daughter has been over from France with her partner, my grandson and a group of their friends. And they have all been staying with me. If you have emailed me and I haven’t replied, I can only apologise. I will reply as soon as the chaos clears.

Now for the image. I shot this a couple of weeks back on morning trip to the Peak District. I had wanted to shoot the heather but the weather was terrible. In the end, we found ourselves in Padley Gorge, sheltering from the rain under a tree. The weather didn’t look like it was going to lift but I decided to try one final shot.

I knew this spot having shot the tree before. I wandered over to take a look before dashing back with my tripod, camera and a plastic bag over the top to protect my equipment from rain.

I only managed one shot before giving up and the camera got soaked. I really didn’t expect anything from this attempt but looking at the image now I’m really pleased I tried.

Have a great weekend and I hope you enjoy better weather than I did.