I'm not going to be here on Saturday, when I normally post my blog updates, so I'm trying this one a day early. I hope you're not too confused. I'm about to head off to Israel for a week to take pictures! Okay, I'm really going for a wedding, but secretly I'm most excited about taking photos. I have no idea what to expect, but I'm sure I'll have lots to talk about here when I get back. In the meantime, since I'm probably flying now as you read this, I thought I would mention one of the things I've been playing with this week. Color Efex Pro by Nik Software. I've been using Nik Silver Efex for quite some time for black and white photos. There are tons of different way to process b&w photos, including Lightroom, Photoshop, programs from OnOne and Topaz and a ton others, but I have had the best luck and think I get the best results from Nik Silver Efex. Anyway, that's how I found Nik Software. Recently the company was bought by Google, so now they're the Nik Collection by Google. The best part is that Nik has a bunch of different programs from Silver Efex to Color Efex to HDR Efex to even a program for just sharpening your photos. Previously each program was between $99 and $199 each! Now you can get the whole bundle... all of the programs for $149! Yep, that's right, all 7 of the Nik products for $149.
Color Efex Pro is definitley one of the coolest of all the Nik Software products and the one I use the most after Silver Efex. For black and white, Silver Efex is the only program I use but for color post processing there are a lot of choices. Color Efex Pro is a breze to use and really gives the user the ability to get really cool results without a lot previous experience with the program. Once you open your photo in it, up opens up a new dialog that is filled with 55 different filters efects. The filters do SO many different things, that it would be silly to list them all out here, but you can do anyting from adding detail and fog effects to color, polorization and contrast effects. There are so many different choices, you might not even recognize your photo when you're done with it! ;-)
Once you add a filter, a dialoge box will open to the right that will allow you to adjust and modify your filter. If you have a need, you can add control points which will allow you to add or subtract the effect in specific areas of your photo. Like the sunlight effect on the ground, but not on the bridge? No problem. Just use a control point to remove that affect from that area. You can even stack muliple filters on top of each other. Each effect on it's own has a million possible outcomes based on your sliders on the right, so imagine all the possibilities.
Now if you're like me and too many choices can... well, scare the shit out of you into a paralized blob of photgraphic poo, don't worry. It's easier than you think. You need to go into a tool like this with an open mind, and freely surf around the options, and I think you will really come away impressed with some of the creative things that will happen to your images. Like anything else, the more you practice, the more you will understand the power of the program and the sooner you can take over the world!
So, do I use Color Efex on all of my photos? No way. I use it as a tool to enhance and differenciate from the norm. Sometimes you look at a photo and you want it to be different, but you don't know how or why. You need some creative inspiration and this is a great tool for that. Take a look at the photos below. I like this photo of the kid, taking a serious look at the garbage can he was attempting to jump over. However, the photo was just looking kinda blah to me... nothing special. Since this was a skatebording shot, I wanted to add a unique feel to it and maybe add a little grungy look and higlight the details. Well, with a few clicks you can see my results and I for one like the image much better. It now stands out and I promise, looks different from all the other shots of these kids that was taken that morning.