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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:  

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.  

In B&W Less is More

© Michael Hart Black and white can give you very powerful images if you′ll remember that "less is more.." That is, in the absence of color information, strong graphics, and rich blacks and whites, will convey the emotion and strength that you′ve lost by not having color. Sometimes, color is the subject; when things are in black-and-white, you rely more on the strong graphics in your composition to attract the viewer in to your image.

Keeping up Contrast

© Adam Stoltman Look for High Contrast -- this white building would look washed out and unappealing in color.   In black and white the image has considerably more impact owing to the extreme difference in contrast between the left hand and right hand sides of the photograph.  The eye is also pulled towards the cross in the distance by the lines of the building which are accentuated by the monochromatic effect.

Mixing Your Tones

© Stephen Mcgee Self portrait in Paris at the Louvre. Walking the streets of Paris is a mind boggling event for a photographer. Everything is beautiful, all the time, in any light! I finally arrived at the Louvre museum and found this secluded arch way. I posted my camera up on my old leather satchel and hit the timer button. What works in the light background framing my deep stair off in the horizon. Ansel Adams always looked for a mix of tones. I think this photograph has a good mix.

Portraits in B&W

© Milton Heiberg The main reason I prefer black and white for portraits of people is that it eliminates the distraction of color from facial expressions.  For example, brightly colored clothing that would have attracted more of the viewer’s attention than facial characteristics is no longer an issue. Eliminating the color in this image allows the viewer to focus on the subjects mood and concentration.


© Stephen Mcgee Sailing is such an amazing past time!  This was a very contrast filled day with clouds on water.  I waited for the right moment to shoot this image, using the cloud cover to reduce the contrast and achieve a natural skin tone.

Skin tones with NIK SilverEfex

© Rick Gerrity This beautiful model is an inspiration for any photographer but the results are particularly striking thanks to the NIk SilverEfex Plugin to bring out contrast in the hair and skin while simultaneously blurring the background.  

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.  

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