Experimenting with Silver Efex
Nik Software produces a product called Silver Efex Pro 2. I have been hearing about it for a while, but I have never really seriously looked at it. I never really thought it would help me, and I have to admit I wasn’t convinced that it would give the same effect as what you get from processing images in Photoshop or some other photo editing software. As I started last week, I do want to give reviews, I don’t know if I will be any good at them, but I decided to download the software, for a trial period and see what it is like. I also thought this could be my lesson for the week, my learning something new.
I opened the image up in Photoshop, and used the Silver Efex plugin there.
This is what it looks like when it is opened up. On the left hand side there are a whole heap of presets that you can use for your image. It is interesting to go through them to find out what your image will look like if you use one of them. I have to admit that I used them for all the images I am showing, though, I was just playing and didn’t take much notice of what I was using.
Up on the right are a list of things that you can change, at the top is Brightness, Contrast and Structure. The Structure control is interesting, and I would liken it to the clarity control in Photoshop. It blurs or gives a great deal more detail to the image. I did use it.
Here is my first attempt. You can add tones to the images, and one of the things that really impressed me was how when put the cursor over the different it shows you what it will look like if you click on it. I found this great, you could go along all the tones without having to try it, undo it and then try something else. I applied a heavy sepia tone to this image.
I changed the structure on this one, I moved the slider to the left, it smoothed it out quite a bit. It is an interesting effect, and I can see how it could be good.
I managed to change the lighting completely with this one with one of the presets. How much does it look like moonlight. Another thing you can do is change the image to look like or to produce the same effects that film produces. Again, you can just wave your cursor over the top and it shows the effect of each one before you have to make a decision. I believe I choose Ilford FP4 125. I used to use that film a lot when I was doing film. Even the grain that you would have got from the film is there.
Another thing I did was with the structure slider, I moved it over the right so you could see how it gives it more detail.
It is very interesting software. The two week trial period is a little disappointing. I suppose they have their reasons for that, but a month would be better, would give you a better time to work out if you really want to use it or not, or become dependent on it.
One thing I did really like when I downloaded it was that a tutorial came with it, or a link to one to help you to learn how to use it. I thought that was brilliant. It would be great for everyone to read that and then you will really know how to use it. I don’t know how many times I have downloaded software to try and realised I was on my own about working out how to use it. Luckily for me, I’ve been using enough software these days that most of the time I do get an idea of how to use it, but I do wonder how others find it.
I guess the next question is, would I purchase it? It has a hefty price tag, around $180, I would have to be pretty serious about wanting to use it to fork out that kind of money. It would be nice to have. If you are interested in looking at it then go to Nik Software, Inc, download the trial version and play around with it. I think if you love black and white, then you will love it.
Just to be upfront, I have done this on my own, and I have no connections with Nik Software, Inc.