I was recently contacted by someone who had purchased my Nik Silver Efex book but was having problems. I mention in the book that Nik provide a number of useful presets on their site which are free to download. These include a good Landscape preset and a faux infrared preset which is quite dramatic. There were also links to download a number of additional presets for the Color Efex software. When trying to access the link I provided this person was being redirected to a new Google/Nik site.
The bad news is that Google, despite all the improvements they have made to the Nik software, has removed the presets. I spent quite some time trawling their site and archives and can’t find the presets anywhere. Whether or not this is temporary I don’t know.
The good news is that I have been able to locate the presets using the “Wayback Machine” website. Here is the link for anyone wanting to access these.
In case you are wondering, the image above didn’t use any presets. It was shot with a Panasonic LX5 from the top of the Empire State Building in New York shortly, after sunset on a rather dull day. But more on the LX5 in another post soon.
I had a request over the weekend to provide further details about how I did the Silver Efex conversion for the Friday 003 image. So here is a high level breakdown of the work.
Step 1 – Start with the end in mind
This involved looking at the image and understanding how I wanted it to look when finished. I won’t go into too much detail here as you can see the finished conversion so you know what I had in mind. I will point out though that I sometimes make notes and rough drawings to help develop an idea before I jump in with the processing.
Step 2 – Create the base image
This involves making adjustments in Lightroom or whatever RAW converter you have to produce the best quality starting image. Quite often this involves contrast and colour adjustments that will help the ultimate conversion to B&W. For example by making all the colours stronger I can separate them better when I convert the image to black and white. You can see the starting image below.
Step 3 – Clean up
Here I removed the red boat on the right side as it was distracting. I then applied Nik Dfine to remove any noise in the image followed by Nik RAW sharpener. This produced the starting image for the conversion which you can see below.
Step 4 – Nik Silver Efex Conversion
I start with the Neutral preset as I know what my finished image should look like and I also understand how to create this. Sometimes it can help to review the presets if you aren’t sure what you want to do.
First I apply a Yellow filter to help darken the sky and lighten the ground slightly. I also increase the filter strength to 100% from the default 50%. It’s then time to emphasise this effect even further using the Soft Contrast slider and a setting of -40%. You can see the result below.
This has achieved a good balance between the foreground and the sky but overall the image is too light. I use the Dynamic Brightness slider at -50% and the Amplify Black slider at +20% to address this. The result is shown below.
Next step is to make the sky more dramatic so I make a selection with a group of control points. I then increase the Structure and Amplify Black sliders to +20%. The result is shown below.
Next I add a curves adjustment to darken the lower 2/3 of the tonal curve. The resulting image is shown below.
My final step in Silver Efex is to add in some grain. I gave up with the grain sliders at one time but recently they have been improved and are now quite good. I use a grain setting of 400 which is quite fine. I used to shoot using Kodak TMax so quite like the fine grained films.
Step 5 – Dodge and Burn
In the previous version of the image I used Nik Analogue Efex to add a vignette and film boarder (admittedly it was a slide film boarder but I liked it). In this version I dodge and burn in Photoshop to produce the image at the very start of this post. I also tweaked the contrast further using another filter called Contrast Master from PhotoWiz. I made these final changes differently because I took more time over the edit, deciding I wanted to make an A3+ print of the finished image.
I hope people find this helpful. If you want to know more about Nik Silver Efex or Photoshop, I will make a quick plug for my books which you can find on Amazon. There are further details of these in the blog menu for anyone who is interested.
I captured this image of a frosty yesterday morning on the edge of a car park. It did raise a few eyebrows from passersby. My initial intension was to convert it to a black and white image using Nik Silver Efex Pro. I made a few variations of the image using different conversions, some high key some low key and some high contrast but none ticked the box for me.
Then I remembered a new Nik programme that I had downloaded whilst trying to fix a problem with Lightroom 5.2 (still not fixed) and thought I would give it a go. The filter is called Analogue Efex and allows you to simulate all sorts of camera and film effects. Usually I am not impressed by such applications and to be honest, looking through the presets I wasn’t hopeful. I then found the custom sections where you can create your own effects and the image below was the result. I produced both the colour version and then converted this to the black and white version above with Silver Efex Pro.
I have made prints from both and the prints are excellent quality but I don’t know which I prefer. I think I am edging towards the colour version but then I switch to black and white. I was wondering what others thought – my wife dismisses anything black and white immediately so if you have similar tendencies your immediately banned from commenting.
Does anyone have any thoughts?
I almost forgot, there also seems to have been other updates installing themselves in the background. This includes a few presets for different applications but I also noticed the grain simulation is now superb. It looks completely natural and is so much better than before. I actually find myself wanting to add grain.
I am very pleased (or relieved depending on how you look at it) to be able to share that my new eBook covering Nik Sharpener Pro 3 is out and can be purchased from Amazon. It’s titled Nik Sharpener Pro 3: How to achieve razor sharp images. It’s priced as usual to be value for money at $3.99 (£2.51 in the UK). Here is the link to the book on Amazon.com. If you are in another country such as the UK, Amazon provide a helpful link over on the right hand side(see the green box) to switch to your own country where the book can be purchased.
If you are a member of my Lenscraft website you will shortly receive an email advising of a special introductory offer. If you’re not a member and would like to receive advanced notifications of future offers by email, add yourself to my mailing list by signing up as at www.lenscraft.co.uk. It’s completely free and I promise not to share your email address with others or bombard you with email (I hate it when people do that to me).
I hope that those of you who purchase the book enjoy it.
It’s been a very busy month and its set to get more hectic for me. I have quite a lot on in the run up to Easter so I am going to take a short break from the blogging for a couple of weeks. Rest assured I will be back soon with new material and lots of opinions about Light Weight Photography.
So you don’t forget me I thought I would leave you with a nice image of an interesting tree shot in Infrared.
Part 1 examines the sources of noise in digital photography and outlines the steps you can take to prevent or minimise it
Part 2 covers the Nik Dfine software, how it operates and how you can improve its performance over the default settings
Part 3 covers two worked examples and is supported by two full resolution images (including the one above) that can be downloaded from my Lenscraft website
I have long believed noise avoidance and reduction is a key skill and one that will make your work stand out from the crowd when done correctly. Nik Dfine is just one of three noise solutions I use (the other two are Neat Image and Topaz DeNoise) and produces very natural looking results so is ideal for Landscape and nature Photography.
Because of the specialist nature of the book I can only release it electronically. But don’t worry if you don’t have a Kindle as Amazon provide free Kindle reader software for the PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone and Android platforms.
This is just a short post to share that my Viveza book (covering Viveza 2) is now live in the Kindle store on Amazon. It’s priced at USD2.99 which comes out at about GBP1.94 depending on the exchange rate. The book covers all aspects of using the Viveza 2 software and is backed up by image files that can be downloaded from the members’ area of my Lenscraft website.
If you have never tried Viveza I can promise that it will speed up your image editing hugely and that it’s well worth trying the 15 day free trial from the Nik website. My book would of course help you get more out of the evaluation – but then I’m biased.