I have just learned, in a post on another website, that Google+, which bought the Nik software suite, is now (since April) offering it to everyone at no cost–in fact, if it’s to be believed, they say that anyone who bought the suite in 2016 will get a refund! It sounds too good to be true (I ran it by Snopes with no flags), but this set of plug-ins is one that I turn to when I begin to process almost any new (or old) image. Have a look at what it can do (there are lots of overviews, guides, and tutorials out there) and see if you’d like to add it to your photo toolbox. I’d be sorely handicapped without it. Here’s the link:
And here are a few examples of some of the results I’ve had.
So what’s not to love? These programs plug in seamlessly with Photoshop (also, I understand, with the lower-end Photoshop Elements) and Lightroom. I’ve read that they can even be used as stand-alone programs, but I’ve not tried that. By the way, the Silver Efex Pro software is the best I’ve ever seen for converting color images to monochrome. I hope you will learn to love these incredible tools as much as I do!
I have a couple of friends who swear by Silver Efex Pro. And, yes: the collection does plug into Elements and Lightroom perfectly well. I have it on my computer now, though I’ve only messed with it enough to be sure it downloaded properly.
I have read that updates aren’t going to be available for free downloads, but that doesn’t make a bit of difference to me. By the time I figure out Lightroom, PS Elements, and Nik, the only thing that will need updating probably will be my brain.
That cumulonimbus is fantastic: both the cloud and the transformation through processing.
They’re well worth getting to know. I don’t really know all of them yet, but I love the HDR, Color Efex, Silver Efex, and Sharpener tools. I need to learn Dfine, Analog Efex, and Viveza. Update your brain–that gave me a real chuckle!
Yes, Nik filters are a great tool. They have been free for a while and, as Linda mentions, speculation is that they will not be updated nor supported in the future. I switch between them and TK’s Actions as part of my regular workflow.
You’ve got three nice images here and it is amazing what contrast adjustments can do for an image. The adjustments in Silver Efex are different than those found in other tools Try changing the layer effect from Normal to Luminosity to see how you adjust a color file using it. Sometimes it is over the top, but it does a nice job with some images and, once you get used to it, it is easier to control. The four basic tools I use in ColorEfex are Tonal contrast, Pro contrast, Detail extractor and GND. As with Photoshop. a lot of what is available isn’t really of much use to a nature photographer but some are fun to experiment with.
I concur with your preferences. I’ll try the Luminosity option–always eager for a new way to look at things! I’ve not heard of TK’s Actions before…
TK’s actions are an awesome tool. Sheer genius. As targeted as Nik filters can be, his actions are even more specific. They are not free, but worth every nickel. And there are a few other tools included as well.
You might also be interested in checking out Sean Bagshaw’s YouTube videos and explore his website video tutorials (including the ones on using TK’s Actions). Lots of great information on using Photoshop and Lightroom beyond what you will find in a book.
Free?! That is amazing. The results you have gotten are really remarkable.
Yes, it is amazing. Glad you like my examples. I urge you to go ahead and jump in–they’re easy to learn and since, if I remember correctly, you do work from your own photos on occasion, the more exciting the photo, maybe the more exciting the painting!
You are absolutely right. When I was studying your photos, I realized how watered down my reference photos are and so, also, my paintings.
Whoa! I never meant to imply that your paintings are, in any way, watered down! They draw me in very nicely, indeed. I’m just thinking that it would be a logical step for you to make a photo of something that catches your eye under less-than-ideal conditions to consider as inspiration for a future work, and in the meantime enhance it to reflect what you visualized at the time. This is a tried and true work-flow procedure based on the teachings of master photographer Ansel Adams, one of my finest inspirations.
Oh, you are so kind and I didn’t mean that you were implying that about my work. It is something that I think about improving in my own work. The photo enhancing idea that you describe is really interesting. I had no idea that Ansel Adams did that. I am so glad you shared this with me. Thank you!
Beautiful images, my friend >>> yes, Nik is free >>> but the fear that I’ve read about here (Amateur Photographer) is that Google may be giving it away prior to discontinuing it – I’ve written to AP about starting some kind of campaign to save it, but with no response yet. A
Maybe they’ll discontinue updates, and maybe support too, but they can’t delete them from our computers!
You mentioned that the transformed mushroom image is from three bracketed photographs. You didn’t say that about the transformed image of the flowers: does that imply that tone-mapping can be done to a single photograph?
Absolutely! I didn’t know that either until I saw that as an option when starting to process a single image with Nik’s HDR Pro program. Under extremely harsh lighting conditions (bright sun and deep shadows), the full range of tones can still best be achieved by bracketing three to five images (underexposing one frame to be sure the brightest highlights are captured) and overexposing another for the details in the darkest areas), but for most images, I’ve been delighted with what I can do by tone-mapping one image. And it can be applied very subtly, so it’s not obvious that it’s been processed with an HDR program. Try it–I can’t recommend it highly enough.