The Barefoot Photographer®

a photography blog

Monday, October 13, 2008

Nik Plug Ins

I have fallen victim to the world of plug ins. I always thought why would you need all those extras -- I mean really, the photo-editing program does plenty. And besides that -- who has the time or even wants to spend more time at the computer than you have to. Taking the photos is the fun part, right? Right? Well, maybe a plug in or two is not such a bad thing and it can be fun and perhaps help shave some minutes off of editing time.

A few weeks ago I was leafing through a magazine and noticed Nik Silver Efex Pro. OK -- I had to try it. I was kind of put out that their trial period was for only 15 days. I was expecting at least 30 days to try it. But no -- only half that. But even though I thought that was a little light for a trial period -- I was very intrigued and downloaded the trial anyway.

The weirdest thing was that I had to install it three times before it was showing up in the filter section of my Elements program. I don't know if it was me not knowing for sure what I was doing or what. I did the exact same thing all three times. I guess the third time is the charm for sure!

All I can say is if you like black and white -- you will love this plug in. It works with Photoshop, Elements, and Aperture. You get a variety of ways to view your photo while you work on it -- either side by side with the original or it uses a movable line that splits the photo to show before and after. You get views of many black and white styles like push processes, high contrast with a variety of color filters, etc. You have complete control over the brightness, contrast, and structure.

Nik has a feature called U Point -- a control point you place in the photo to give selective control over sections you choose. This feature is also found in other Nik plug ins -- Viveza and Color Efex Pro are on my list of things I have to have soon.

With Silver Efex Pro you can also get the look of 18 of the most popular black and white films. Remember when we used to use film??? And for each film type you can tweak the grain, color sensitivity, and tone curves.

A really cool part of this is that you get to select the look you want for your photo and then click "brush" at the bottom of the window to return to Photoshop or Elements. This will allow you to brush the black and white effect into the original images only where you want it. If you want the whole photo transformed to the black and white version -- you simply click "OK." If you change your mind and do not want the black and white effect -- click "cancel."

The Nik website has great tutorial videos to show you just what this nifty little add on can do for you. This link will get you to the overview of the product. To view the videos -- click on the 'lessons' tab. Here you will also find the link to download the 15-day trial.

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