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Why I use Nik from Photoshop

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Views at Mesa Arch, Canyonlands National Park, Utah, USA
Views at Mesa Arch, Canyonlands National Park, Utah, USA. Four images shot with a Canon 400D, merged in Lightroom and edited in Photoshop using Nik Viveza and Color Efex.

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:

  1. You can reduce the opacity of the layer if you find the effect you applied is too strong.
  2. 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.
  3. 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”.

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Installing Camera Profiles in Lightroom

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Clappersgate Bridge, The Lake District. Olympus EM5 with Infrared Conversion.
Clappersgate Bridge, The Lake District. Olympus EM5 with Infrared Conversion.

My latest video is now live on You Tube. You can subscribe to my channel using the link below

https://www.youtube.com/user/rnwhalley/featured

or watch the video here (please note the video doesn’t show up in email, only on the blog).

If you’re a Lightroom user and aren’t familiar with changing your Camera Profile, be sure to watch this. There is a second part to this video which is coming soon and I doubt many people will have seen anything like it before.

The image you see above is the RAW file used in the video once it’s been fully processed.

Friday Image No.101

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Swanage Pier, Dorset.
Swanage Pier, Dorset.

Here’s one for all you fans of Black and White. If you’re wondering what the colour image looked like at the start or the processing I used, it’s all covered in a short You Tube video.

View You Tube Channel

You might find it rather surprising if you haven’t seen it before.

Have a great weekend everyone.

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You Tube Video: Nik Color Efex Essential Landsape Filters

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Boats moored on the banks of Derwent Water at sunset, Keswick. Canon EOS300 + Sigma 10-20mm lens.
Boats moored on the banks of Derwent Water at sunset, Keswick. Canon EOS300 + Sigma 10-20mm lens.

For those of you who are Nik users, you might be interested in a new video I uploaded to You Tube. I’ve had a lot of correspondence in the past where people have struggled with how to use Nik Color Efex and why it’s different from Viveza.

Generally speaking, Color Efex is all about adding special effects to your work. But there are also a few of the filters that I think are essential. These can help you improve your photography or correct problems very quickly and I use them regularly with my own work.

This video looks at the first of these filters, which was used to enhance the image above as well as correct a serious colour cast. Even if you don’t currently use Color Efex you might find the video interesting.

View You Tube Channel