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Making Sense of NIK Software Products: What Specific NIK Products do, and Which Programs Do you Need?

NIK Software: Image Enhancement Software The NIK Software programs work as Plug-Ins for the most popular and professional post processing programs and are compatible with Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Adobe Lightroom and Apple Aperture. NIK products are available as single product Plug-Ins or as complete collections. NIK Products: Viveza 2 – Control Point (U Point) Enhancement System Color Efex Pro 3.0 – Color Filter Effects Dfine 2.0 – Noise Reduction Sharpener Pro 3.0 – RAW Pre-sharpener and Output Sharpener Silver Efex Pro – Black & White Conversions and Processing HDR - HDR Efex Pro For High Dynamic Range Composite Images Viveza 2: Control Point (U Point) Enhancement System, Selectively Control Light, Color and image Corrections. Viveza 2 (pronounced “Viv-eh-zah”), brings a whole new time-saving dimension to your image editing. No complicated selections or layer masks to wear you down. Now featuring global adjustments, fine-detail structure control, and shadow recovery. Viveza 2 will forever change the way you edit images. Source: NIK Software. The NIK product I like the best is Viveza 2 and it’s a good choice if you want to try your hand with NIK, a good starter program to get your feet wet and can be used to manipulate and enhance both color and BW images. Viveza 2 is also the program I’d suggest if you’re on a limited budget and can only afford one of the suite. It is however a hands-on type of program where the photographer is quite involved in the manipulation process. If you prefer a one-click-you’re-done process then you should look at Color Efex Pro 3.0 with it’s preset filter system. See the samples above of the sample control sliders in Viveza 2. Color Efex Pro 3.0: Award-winning Color Filter Effects. The leading photographic filters for digital photography. 52 Filters with 250+ Effects and Film Emulation Filters. Traditional and stylizing filters that offer virtually endless possibilities to enhance and transform images quickly and easily. Available as Complete Edition, Select Edition, or Standard Edition. The Patented U Point technology of Color Efex Pro provides the ultimate control to selectively apply enhancements without the need for any complicated masks, layers or selections. Control color, light and tonality in your images and create unique enhancements with professional results. With 52 filters and over 250 effects found in Color Efex Pro 3.0, you can perform high quality retouching, color correction, and endless creative enhancements to your photographs. Updates to old favorites such as Classical Soft Focus, Darken/Lighten Center, and Vignette filters are joined by exciting new filters Film Effects, Glamour Glow, High Key, Tonal Contrast, Bleach Bypass, and more. Source: NIK Software. Photo by Ken Dejarlais , Seattle DPA instructor The haunting forest photo above shot by Seattle DPA instructor Ken Dejarlais is a beautiful example of an image that utilizes a number of NIK products to achieve the final effect. Ken describes his process here: 1. Open in RAW - Adjust levels and exposure 2. Viveza 2 - Plus global saturation and structure 3. Color Efex Pro - Foliage filter 4. Color Efex Pro - Graduated filter in foreground 5. Sharpener Pro - Selective sharpening 6. Color Efex Pro - Monday Morning filter Dfine 2.0 – Noise Reduction: Virtually, all digital cameras inherently create unwanted imperfections known as noise. The amount or type of noise in an image typically depends on the quality and type of imaging sensor with which it was created. Contrast (Luminance) Noise and Color (Chrominance) Noise can be individually present in an image or might be seen in the same image. Fast or high ISO speeds and low light levels can add noise to images, while some images might exhibit high levels of JPEG artifacts. The program gives you unprecedented control over exactly how much and where to apply noise reduction. This makes it ultra-easy to eliminate noise in your images while maintaining detail and sharpness, thus improving the quality of every digital photo you take. Dfine 2.0 is designed to prevent the loss of detail other noise reduction tools often introduce. Source: NIK Software. Photo by Marsha Gruberman, DPA Webinar student, NJ Photo by Marsha Gruberman, DPA Webinar student, NJ The powerful images above of the Statue of Liberty, shot by student Marsha Gruberman and submited to the DPA Dusk and Night Webinar,  are good before and after samples, and details of NIK Dfine noise reduction software at work. The iconic shot by Marsha looks stronger, cleaner and more intense with the significant reduction in both Contrast and Color Noise. Sharpener Pro 3.0 - Image Sharpening: Tools for sharpening digital images to create crisp edges and bring out accurate details. Sharpener Pro 3.0 is the most advanced and powerful sharpening solution eliminating the guesswork typically required for achieving superior and consistent results. New adaptive sharpening algorithms and award-winning U Point technology for selective sharpening ensure desired sharpness or creative softening of details are easily accomplished. The Sharpening Soft Proof that lets you accurately inspect results before printing saving money in costly test prints, improved handling of new output devices, and new output presets provide repeatable, professional results. Sharpener Pro 3.0 is the only tool that provides controls for both output and creative detail sharpening of different objects quickly and easily without the need to make different adjustment layers for each object or area. Silver Efex Pro: Black & White Conversions and BW Effects and post processing. Preset BW Filters that emulate film processing and developing styles and techniques. Preset One click Film Types, Grain Reproduction Engine, Variable Toning Selector. Featuring NIK Software’s patented U Point technology to selectively control the tonality and contrast of the image, Silver Efex Pro includes advanced imaging algorithms to protect against unwanted artifacts, a comprehensive collection of emulated black and white film types, a variable toning selector for adding traditional toning techniques, over 20 one-click preset styles, and a state-of-the-art grain reproduction engine that help produce the highest quality black and white images possible from your color images while providing more freedom to experiment. Source: NIK Software. Photo by Rick Gerrity, DPA instructor, NJ The wonderful veteran portrait above photographed by New Jersey DPA instructor Rick Gerrity brings us back to a different time and place through selective use of NIK filters and effects. Applying some masking in Photoshop and then applying an Antique filter in the Silver Efex Pro suite Rick has taken a street shot of a crusty old veteran and created a nostalgic time capsule image of a hero. HDR Efex Pro: High Dynamic Range Composite Photography. Experience all the power, control, and creative expression your camera has to offer with HDR Efex Pro, the essential new High Dynamic Range imaging standard with a complete all-in-one toolset. High dynamic range photography is a process in which multiple exposures are captured, aligned and merged to generate a single image that enables a much wider range of colors and tonality. HDR techniques are typically used to enhance landscape, architectural, nighttime, and artistic photography. Source: NIK Software. Photo by Sam Johnston, DPA instructor Tampa The HDR image above photographed by Sam Johnston, a DPA instructor in Tampa, shows a composite photo (bottom) created by combining 7 exposures together using HDR software. The top image is one of the original seven exposures. You can see the extended range and tonality achieved using the HDR process. Additional Information: NIK Software: NIK Software can be ordered from NIK Software directly. There is a discount on NIK software available to DPA Students. Inquire with DPA for product discount code.  Visit: to order online, for additional Information or to download FREE Trial versions. Digital Silver Imaging: Retail pricing at Digital Silver Imaging is also very competitive on NIK Software. Specific product information above supplied by NIK Software:  

Abstracting the Silhouette

© Robin Hill Try silhouettes for a particularly powerful statement, especially when shot in black and white, where the subject matter is reduced to its most abstract form. Combine quick movement with a fast shutter speed to freeze the action.

B&W in the Serengeti

© Bobbie Goodrich This photo was taken in Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. Tihs image was originally a color photo, taken mid day in bright sunlite and it was overexposed.  I fixed exposure and noise issues in NIK software and converted the image to black & white using Silver Efex NIK software  and eliminated the blown out background with a gradient in photoshop.  

Black & White is a Click Away

When photography was invented, B&W was the only game in town. As it evolved, so did addressing the quality of the print. Getting a wide range of tones from pure white to pure black was the goal of every good photographer and darkroom worker. It finally evolved into an art form and grew in popularity. Many B&W masters shunned color photography when it was introduced. But as color grew in popularity, B&W began to  take a back seat and was left to the truly dedicated. Thankfully, with the advent of digital cameras, B&W is making a huge resurgence. © Russ Burden A black and white image is as close as a menu click away on your point and shoot. Access the Record Menu on the back of your camera and navigate to the Color Mode or Film Equivalent setting. Check your manual to see what it’s called. Simply click on the setting that says B&W and you’re off to a world of colorless wonder. Experiment, play, and simply have fun. Capture the kids, an architectural subject, a day at the beach, a hike, a bike ride or simply a shot in the back yard. Incorporate shadows into your subjects as they play an important role in B&W captures. The next time you’re at a wedding, make some B&W  images of the bride and she’ll love them. Some cameras even have a sepia setting - translation = bonus. Give it a whirl. © Russ Burden If you prefer to photograph in color, there are many software programs that allow you to easily convert the file to B&W. Chances are the software that comes with your camera allows this. If not, you can always use Photoshop or Photoshop Elements. Both provide tools that produce museum quality B&W images. In Photoshop, there’s a fantastic adjustment layer that enables you to lighten or darken specific colors of the original color capture. I think about the hours I spent in the darkroom to come up with a print about which I could feel proud. Now, with a few mouse clicks and a couple of minutes, I get the same result.  

Bring your B&W Digital Images to the Next Level

© Russ Burden I′ve logged many an hour in the wet darkroom standing over trays, chemicals, and tongs watching prints emerge from the developer. Those were some great times. Hours, that seemed like minutes, would go by tweaking contrast, exposure, dodging, burning, and masking each print. Just me, the hypo, my Graylab timer, and my music. Each session taught me a new nuance regarding filter grades, time in the developer, feathering the light, and so much more. It certainly gave me a one up when I made the transition to Photoshop. It′s sad that many Photoshop users won′t ever get this experience or don′t understand why the dodge and burn icons appear as they do in the toolbar. Those of you who now have a smile on your face can certainly relate. While I lament the shutting down of my wet darkroom, I rejoice in the ease and capability Photoshop offers to make stunning B&W images. Use the following tips to bring your B&W digital images to the next level. © Russ Burden While it performs the task, I encourage you to not use the easy method of going to Image>Mode>Grayscale. It lacks the snap and punch that′s necessary to create a good B&W image. I also urge you to not use Image>Adjustments>Hue Saturation and move the saturation slider to the left. Again, it produces a flat impression. A method that does result in a good print is Image>Adjustments>Channel Mixer. It provides more control regarding contrast and how given colors in the original capture are replicated in shades of gray. It proved to be my stand by method until Adobe incorporated a B&W converter into Camera RAW in addition to adding a B&W Adjustment Layer in Photoshop. I′ve since abandoned the Channel Mixer for either of these two methods. © Russ Burden

Consider Atmosphere

© Michael Hart Consider atmospherics. That is, the subtle fog and haze in these two photos dictated to me that they would work very well as black-and-white images. The information that was left because of the mist and fog helped create strong graphics that carry the photos more strongly, in my opinion, than if I had left them in their original color rendition.   © Michael Hart

Converting to B&W with NIK SilverEfex Pro

© Bobbie Goodrich This image was taken in Cody Wyoming, in fragmented strong light  at 9am.  This image was converted to Black and White using NIK Silver Efex Pro and the background created with Photoshop used as a plug in for NIK.

Creating a Silhouette

These two images were shot in an IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) Camp in Port Au Prince Haiti. There was late afternoon light which hit the tent and gave it a nice glow. I do not remember exactly what I did technically because I was more focused on the moment than my camera′s technical settings. So to figure it out after the fact, I just looked at my metadata, which you can see easily in programs such as PhotoMechanic For both images below I was using a 17-35 nikon zoom lens. © Jessica Lifland For the silhouette of Anide, above, my camera was set with iso of 1000, fstop 2.8 on aperture priority, shutter speed 200th/s.  For the camera′s light meter, the brightness of the tent overpowers her form so the camera thinks it must bring down the exposure to expose for the tent thus underexposing the form of the Anide. This is great if it a silhouette is the intended effect. © Jessica Lifland The picture of Peterson and his sister in the door of the tent was shot in manual mode. The two images are about 70 frames apart in the take and somewhere in between them, I switched to manual mode. I must have figured I′d get another silhouette since he is backlit too, but here I wanted detail in the foreground.  The exposure here is iso 800, fstop 4.5 @ 320th/s shutter speed.  Both images were shot in RAW mode and converted to black and white in Lightroom afterwards.

Drama in Black and White

© Adam Stoltman Use Black and White for Drama this night scene of carnival lights in a small village in Portugal is considerably more dramatic than it would be were color values competing with one another.  The starkness of the contrast between the two basic tones of Black and White give the image its power, and its mystery.

Enhance your Still Life with NIK SilverEfex

© Rick Gerrity The gas pump image began as a rather lack luster environmental still life but offered potential with the textured details of the faded paint and rusted surfaces. Thanks to the NIK SilverEfex plugin, specifically the structure and contrast levels that are easily manipulated in post capture, the old time meter pops nicely against the patterned back drop of bricks and grass.  

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