Software review – Nik

Today I thought I would share a program I have started to use more and more each time I start processing. While historically I stuck to mainly Lightroom I came across the Nik Collection…. Why download a program like this? Because it is FREE!! 

Good old google purchased this company a year or two ago and now provide it, free of charge. The Nik Collection has a number of programs in it (9 different programs and all free) however today I am just talking about the most used on in my workflow – Colour Efex Pro.


Color Efex Pro 4 provides a range of controls contained within 55 filters for you to select from. Each filter is designed to provide you a multiple presets to enhance your photos. 
Pretty normal I hear you say? Well…. the thing here is these filters can be “stacked” on to each other and not only that is each filter can be altered to your eye so really it is limitless the variations that you could have.

FILTERS

Each Filter that is supplied is categorised for you to help speed up based on Nik’s recommendations. Once selected you are presented with a list of different filters that align to that category. by Selecting the icon to the right of each filter you will be presented with variations to that filter. Once that is selected you are still given full control over all the aspects of how that is applied.



RECEPES

By stacking your filters you can save these as “recipes” to use another time. This really helps if you have had a number of shots all shot under the same conditions and wanting to give them a uniformed look that is nice, quick and easy.



WANT MORE CONTROL?

You can apply filters selectively using control points on your photos. By selecting an area or colour you make apply filters, recipes or changes and keep them localised in the shot. You can also add control points or link them together if you have more complex needs in your control areas you need to adjust.
INTERFACE AND USE



The key features within the interface as detailed shown below

 

1. View Modes

Single Image View showing your photo as it changes

Split View (This is the view I prefer and use) This provides you with the one photo and a slider that can be moved back and forward over the shot to show changes.

Side by side view showing you just that, a before and after image.

2. Compare

This simply lets you switch views to compare your shot back to the original, handy to make sure you place the brakes on without getting carried away with your changes.

3. Zoom Tool

Not sure this really needs any explanation…..

4. Background Selector Tool

This allows you to toggle the background colour of your screen from white, grey and black. I find I prefer to work with black over white or grey.

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS

KEYBOARD SHORTCUTS

Everyone who uses software should learn and understand keyboard shortcuts with software, they do as they are designed to, to speed up a process. When you are working on 1000’s of photos this can save you valuable time. Nik collection is no difference. 


HISTORY 

This software much like Adobes gives you the ability to look over the history of what has been done and remove sections in need, this is invaluable when applying a lot of change and checking the impact of earlier changes. 


Technical Stuff?



The systems recommendations are as follows (This is available for both Mac and PC!)

Mac:

* Mac® OS X 10.7.5 through 10.10

* Adobe Photoshop CS4 (CS5 for HDR Efex Pro 2) through CC 2015

* Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 through 13 (apart from HDR Efex Pro 2, which is not compatible with Photoshop Elements)

* Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 through 6/CC

* Apple® Aperture® 3.1 or later

Windows:

* Windows Vista®, Windows 7, Windows 8

* Adobe Photoshop CS4 through CC 2015

* Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 through 13 (apart from HDR Efex Pro 2, which is not compatible with Photoshop Elements)

* Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 through 6/CC

RESULTS

Below is a before and after of what of my photos that was completely worked through only colour efex pro I did over the weekend. The key areas I really wanted to focus on this photo were the colours, contrast and detail.

compare
the before and after

You will notice they look like slightly different photos however they are the same. There was a lens profile correction done when I imported the photo to Lightroom. The left is the complete RAW photo as it was shot on the camera. 
Details of setting of the photo

Exposure – 61 seconds at f / 5.0

Focal length – 16mm

ISO Speed rating – ISO 100

Camera – Canon EOS M3 

Lens – EF-S 10-22mm f3.5-4.5 USM
Hope this has inspired or added value, be sure to let me know ☺️

Joshua Beniston

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