Verdict: It's now free, amazingly, and you can download the Google Nik Collection here. But is it any good? Mostly, yes. Dfine and Sharpener Pro look weak and dated and Viveza is a bit of a one-trick pony, but Analog Efex Pro, Silver Efex Pro, Color Efex Pro and HDR Efex Pro and excellent and easily carry the whole suite on their own. This is a 5-star package, and no … [Read more...] about Google Nik Collection review
Silver Efex Pro
I admit that Silver Efex Pro, part of the Google Nik Collection, is my favourite black and white conversion plug-in, but I like to keep an open mind, and I thought it was about time I took a look at some others. I have reviewed Topaz B&W Effects in the past, but it's been a while since I used it properly, so I've downloaded the latest version to give it a quick test. … [Read more...] about Topaz B&W Effects basics: is it as good as Silver Efex Pro?
The Zone System was invented by legendary landscape photographer Ansel Adams. He hit upon the idea of splitting the full range of tones in a black and white image into eleven distinct brightness zones, which he then went on to define very carefully. I'm paraphrasing this from the Wikipedia entry: Zone 0: Maximum black, no detail Zone 1: Near black, no useful detail … [Read more...] about How to apply the Zone System in Silver Efex Pro
You can use Silver Efex Pro perfectly effectively by choosing a preset and then modifying the settings as necessary using the tools panel. What you may not realise is that Silver Efex Pro simulates specific film types very closely. In fact, you can choose your film manually in the Film Types panel. And if that's not enough you can create a black and white film of your own with … [Read more...] about Create your own films with Silver Efex Pro Sensitivity settings!
Silver Efex Pro comes with a large range of varied and powerful black and white presets, and one of my favourites is the Silver Efex Pro Film Noir effect. This does every bad thing we're told to avoid with our high-quality digital images! It reduces the sharpness of the picture, adds a hefty dose of grain, darkens the edges of the frame with a powerful vignette effect and clips … [Read more...] about Exploring the Silver Efex Pro Film Noir effect
Successful black and white photography sometimes gets its power from strong contrasts and graphic shapes, and sometimes it relies on subtlety and control. Nik Software's Silver Efex Pro, now taken over by Google, can do both. In principle, you should be able to do all these things in Photoshop, but in practice I think plug-ins like this do a much better job – and I hope this … [Read more...] about Try out this Silver Efex Pro tutorial for subtle black and white portrait effects
The Structure tool is one of Silver Efex Pro's secret weapons. It helps to give black and white images that indefinable 'bite' that we're always trying to recapture with our digital images. You can think of the Silver Efex Pro Structure control it as a kind of 'coarse sharpening', which acts over a slightly larger radius than conventional sharpening tools. It exaggerates the … [Read more...] about How to bring out textures with the Silver Efex Pro Structure slider
The Soft Contrast slider is one of the new features introduced in Silver Efex Pro 2, and its effects are quite different to the regular Contrast control. At first it can seem quite difficult to work out a use for it, but you'll soon discover when you start digging around in the presets that it keeps on cropping up. So here's an example where its effects can be seen very … [Read more...] about Discover the power of the Silver Efex Pro 2 soft contrast control
Black and white photography relies heavily on dodging and burning to add emphasis to certain parts of the image, to balance or contrast areas of tone, and improve the overall composition – and Silver Efex Pro's control points let you do this in moments, without masks or selections. You don't always need them. Silver Efex Pro's edge burning tools, vignettes and other options … [Read more...] about How to use control points in Silver Efex Pro
Nik Software must have discovered some unknown digital alchemy when it developed Silver Efex Pro. Suddenly, here was a digital imaging tool that really could replicate the look, feel and even the 'soul' of silver-based black and white. And one of the favourite tools of traditional black and white photographers was the 'contrast' filter. These mostly came in yellow, orange, … [Read more...] about How to create a red filter effect in Silver Efex Pro