03 Dynamic Brightness
In the previous step, the picture was left looking a little light, so I’ve used the Dynamic Brightness slider to darken it a little. This gives a slightly richer effect than the regular Brightness slider.
04 Increasing the Contrast
Now I can see that the picture needs more contrast to be properly effective – and a hearty shove on the Contrast slider produces the desired effect. This now really shows off the darkening effect of the yellow filter on the blue sky. The picture just needs a tiny bit more ‘bite’…
05 Increasing the Structure
The Structure slider is one of Silver Efex Pro’s secret weapons. It works like a coarse sharpening tool, making details stand out much more clearly. Sometimes it can produce unwanted edge ‘halos’ around objects, but mostly it gives your black and white images a big boost in ‘punchiness’.
06 Saving a preset
This has worked pretty well, so I’m going to save it as a preset. To do this, display the thumbnail presets panel if it’s not visible already (there are buttons at the top left of the window), then click the Add Preset button at the bottom. The new preset is then added to the Custom section of the presets panel.
07 The finished picture
I’ve used the Channel Mixer and Black and White tools in Photoshop and Elements countless times and, in my opinion, neither is as effective as Silver Efex Pro. This plug-in produces stronger contrast filter effects with little or no artefacts. I’d like to know how Nik did it, but I’m pretty sure there’s more going on than simple channel mixing.
The effect on this picture is dramatic. A lacklustre colour image has been turned in to a dramatic, almost surreal black and white image which captures some of the strangeness and power of this ancient place.