03 Manual adjustments
Once you’ve selected a preset, you can use the manual adjustments on the tools panel on the right to tweak the settings and get precisely the effect you want. The Detail Extractor is actually quite simple, which is more than you can say for regular HDR tools. The Detail Extractor slider simply controls the strength of the effect, while the Contrast and Saturation sliders speak for themselves.
Underneath is an Effect Radius menu. This controls the distance over which the contrast-increasing effect is applied, and its equivalent in an HDR program would be the ‘Glow’ radius – simply choose the one which looks best for your image.
And under this are two tools you’ll find in all the Color Efex Pro plug-ins: the Shadows and Highlights sliders can be used to recover any tones which have been lost (‘clipped’) during the adjustments, and the ‘+’ and ‘-‘ Control Points are used to apply the filter locally or shield specific areas of the image. I’ve not used either of them here.
04 The finished image
The transformation is pretty spectacular, and while I might tone it down a little if I was going to hang this picture on the wall, it does show just how effective this simple plug-in can be.
This is what Color Efex Pro is so good at – producing spectacular results with minimal effort or know-how.