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.
Yesterday was a trip into Manchester to shoot some interesting architecture. It was a great day out even though one of the best locations was indoors. I have a few shots from the day that I will be sharing but this one was early on. It’s from inside John Rylands library who are quite happy for you to take photographs providing you keep out of people way – full credit to them. If you’re ever in Manchester, it’s a great place to visit.
I have shot this staircase in the library several times, but I wanted to try it with the Fuji X-T2. Previously I have only used either a compact or Micro 43 camera. The Fuji handles the noise very well and 10-24 lens allowed for a great perspective.
I hope you like the shot and have a great weekend.
It seems that there’s growing concern over how long the Nik Collection will now last. Many photographers have already started to look for alternatives. Whilst I personally think this is a little soon, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared. And judging by some of the emails I’m now receiving, there is a lot of worry and confusion.
I had intended to include an article in this month’s Lenscraft newsletter to discuss some options. But on reflection, I think it’s worth me publishing the article so everyone can share. If you’re interested, here is the link to the article titled Find Your Nik Collection Alternative and Stop Worrying.
Do you have the first edition of my Viveza book? You might like to know there is a free and substantial update available. The new version is now on Amazon and if you contact their help team you can get the update.
If you’re a member of my Lenscraft website, the latest version is also free until the end of July. You can find it in the Lenscraft Creative Store. Just be sure to log in before purchasing to receive the 100% discount.
Google recently announced that there would be no further updates to the Nik Collection. This is a real shame. These tools are excellent and I personally don’t want to see them fall behind, ultimately becoming incompatible with new operating systems.
I doubt this will change Googles mind but Sascha Rheker has started a petition to Save the Nik Collection. If you have a minute please register your support.
Recently I posted a video on You Tube explaining why I like to use the Nik Plugin’s from Photoshop rather than Lightroom. This came about because in all my Nik videos I start with a RAW file in Lightroom This is then converted to an image that I edit in Photoshop. A couple of people asked why and so I recorded the video for You Tube.
The video has been very well received but given it’s only had a few hundred views. To ensure everyone has access to the information I decided to also post this blog. Whilst I am referring to the Nik Collection in the video, the same argument applies to most filters.
The problem I have when using a plug-in for Lightroom is that you can end up creating lots of new files. This can be hard to manage and quickly becomes messy. If you are working on a RAW file you have no option but to convert the RAW file to an image before editing it with (what Lightroom calls) an external editor. This creates a new file, duplicating the original RAW file with adjustments.
After you have edited your image, you may need to apply a second filter to the image. When this happens, you have the option to work on either another copy of the image file or apply the adjustments to the image you created previously. The first option creates yet more image files. The second provides no “back-out” in case you make a mistake; you would need to start again from the RAW file.
Photoshop is better option as each adjustment filter can be applied as a new layer. The Nik Collection even has a setting you can use to automatically.
Once you are working with layers in Photoshop, other options are available to you:
You can reduce the opacity of the layer if you find the effect you applied is too strong.
You can use layer masks to hide or reveal areas of adjustment in the image. For example, you might like the sky in the adjusted image but not the rest. You could use a layer mask to hide the adjustment but then paint back the adjusted sky. You can even create quite complex masks using luminosity and channel mask techniques.
Perhaps the biggest advantage is that you can convert layers in Photoshop to Smart Objects. When you apply a Nik filter to a Smart Object, all the settings you apply in Nik are saved, including control points. This means when you save your finished image as a PSD file, you can open and adjust the settings in your Nik filter, even moving control points.
If some of this doesn’t make sense, watch the video below. If you want to know more about the Nik workflow, look at my book “Nik Efex from Start to Finish”.
I have seen many articles and videos over the years suggesting ways to create infrared simulations using regular colour photographs. Most of these fall short, possibly because the authors don’t appreciate the true characteristics of infrared. One example I read simply suggested using the channel mixer in Photoshop and using it to turn a blue sky black.
The best tool I have seen for simulating the effects of Infrared film a standard colour image is Alien Skin Exposure. This is also one of the tools I turn to when converting my digital infrared images as it allows me to simulate the halation effect often seen with Kodak HIE film. Unfortunately, as great a tool as Exposure is, it’s costly.
So how can we create a simulation using Nik plug-ins? Well, there is an Infrared film simulation in Nik Color Efex Pro but it’s not very convincing and doesn’t produce the halation effect. Nik Silver Efex Pro did once have an optional preset you could download from the Nik website but this has been removed. In any case, the preset wasn’t very believable.
This video features my simple solution based on combining a couple of filters in Nik Color Efex with a monochrome conversion in Silver Efex Pro. It’s quick to do and is quite effective.
[If your reading this as an email you won’t see the video. Please visit the YouTube channel link below to view.]
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