Archive for Nik Color Efex Pro

Banff Elk

Posted in Photography Technique with tags , , , , , , , on November 17, 2014 by chamimage
Bull Elk

Bull Elk

I photographed this elk in Banff two years ago (yes I am still editing images from 2012). I got some great shots of him, but the backgrounds were all very busy with that evergreen forest behind him.

I have yet to find a good way to blur a background without being obvious about it, though the new path and spin blurs in Photoshop CC 2014 are pretty cool for other uses, especially motor sports. I can’t bring myself to do any compositing when it comes to wildlife images so putting him on a different background was really an option for me.

I decided to do my best with Nik Color Efex Pro (still can’t bring myself to call it Google). The darken light center filter is one I have all but forgotten about lately. I put it to work on this image and was quite pleased with the result. I did some dodging and burning of the areas closest to the elk. I then still wanted the background a little bit darker so I opened it in Adobe Camera Raw (from Photoshop, which is totally cool since I always forget to dust spot before opening files in Photoshop and this way I can go back to do it using the dust spot finder in ACR) and moved the shadows slider to the left. This is a cool trick for darkening most backgrounds, as well as use in astro photography to make the Milky Way and stars pop.

This went from being an image I was kicking myself for not throwing away on the first edit to one I am pleased with. So now I am encouraged to procrastinate all the more about throwing out images that are flawed in some way. Perhaps I will think up a way to use it or perhaps someone will come out with a magic filter that will save it.

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Glamor Glow Rescue

Posted in Photography Technique with tags , , , , , , , on March 5, 2014 by chamimage
Tortuguero Rainforest After

Tortuguero Rainforest After

When I looked at the Before image of this in Lightroom earlier today I asked myself what in the heck I was thinking for not deleting it on the first edit. What did I see in it? It was way too busy and the light was harsh mid day light. Not flattering at all in a rain forest.

Yet I still didn’t delete it. There was something there. Maybe it was the reflections. So I opened it in Photoshop.

Tortuguero Rainforest Before

Tortuguero Rainforest Before

This was what I had to work with. I use Google Nik filters on most of the images I process. I like to use them in Photoshop because it makes the changes on a layer that I can mask and brush in or out the effect as I please. Sometimes it causes an area to be too contrasty or blows out the whites in an animals fur of feathers. I can use the opacity slider if the effect is too strong.

I still thought I would have to give up and delete the image after my usual color correction and contrast adjustments. Then I decided to try one last thing – Glamor Glow. I almost never use it at its strongest, but that is what it took to make me finally have to admit, this image was suddenly working for me.

I am trying to be a more ruthless editor and delete more images, but sometimes there is just something there and you have to mess around a bit to find what it is that will bring that out in the image.

Stacking is Addictive

Posted in Photography Technique with tags , , , , , , , on November 7, 2011 by chamimage

Crown Point/Vista House from Shepherd's Dell

This photograph shot from Shepherd’s Dell back toward Crown Point and Vista House in the Columbia River Gorge on Monday wasn’t the best shot of the day, but it is impressive in the amount of filters I used in processing it in Nik Color Efex Pro 4. I’m getting a bit addicted to stacking filters.

I shot a series of exposures of this scene assuming I would need an HDR to cover the wide range of exposure between the sky and the shadows. Once I looked through the images and noted how fast the clouds were moving between exposures I thought I would probably composite the sky from one exposure and the foreground from another instead of HDR.

But when I got pretty good results with using the grad filter in Lightroom on the sky, I decided to go for it with one image. I’ll post the RAW file I started with here. This is after the grad filter in Lightroom.

Lightroom file

Then the fun began. I usually go straight to the Nik Color Efex Pro4 once in Photoshop, though I could have pretty much used it in Lightroom for this one. I usually start with Pro Contrast to get the color balance close and add a bit of overall contrast. I really like the new dynamic contrast slider in Pro Contrast.

Next I added Tonal Contrast for definition in those clouds. I haven’t used the new Details Enhancer Filter much, but toned it way down (I took the enhancer slider almost all the way to the left) to eliminate the HDR’ish heavy handed default settings and it helped define the foreground and mid-ground trees. It really helped the mid ground. I picture using this filter very mildly and very selectively, with Control Points, in the future. If you like grungy HDR you will like it in larger doses.

The image still needed some more saturation so I added Brilliance/Warmth, using only the Brilliance slider. It still, believe it or not, need more punch (well, consider the original I started with). I didn’t think I could get away with using Contrast Color Range, but I did.

I have been noting this fall that the Polarization filter does something quite amazing for autumn leaves, both the yellows and the reds, so I added it.

I now have a new recipe with six filters in it (once you’re hanging yourself this far out you might as well save it as a recipe so you can find your way back). The downside? Noise. Artifacts in the blue sky. And more visible dust spots than I ever thought imaginable on a single image. I am obviously overcoming my initial tepid first impression of the new CEP 4 and am starting to like it for its filter stacking capability. The Recipe thumbnails are a huge improvement as well. I can open an image in CEP 4 and then look at thumbnails of the filter recipes, both mine and Nik’s, and find one that pops (usually mine). I’ve started looking at all of them instead of just mine because sometimes I find a look I would never have imagined for that image on my own. It’s nice to be taken out of your comfort zone once in a while. I am now infatuated with filter recipes. Lord knows what kind of mischief this is all going to lead to.

Columbia Gorge

Posted in Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 5, 2011 by chamimage

Wahkeena Creek

The Columbia River Gorge is a lovely place to be in the fall. I spent the day there on Monday with my friend, Sandy Nykerk, visiting from Bozeman, Montana. It was fun to see the reaction of someone from sagebrush and rattlesnake country to our lush rain forest.

Wahkeena Falls has always been my favorite in years past, both for the photography and the loop trail for a good hike. The young hardwood trees have finally grown up to obstruct the view of the falls from below now. They have also runed the shot of the creek above the bridge at the top of this photo.

Latourel Falls

Of course, the lushness of the forest comes at a price. We had only two rain showers on Monday, one at noon and one that ended the day at 4:30 pm. Not bad for Oregon. We did fight the wind and spray all day, as the drops on the lens and the wind artifact in the trees attests to in this photo of Latourel Falls. We gave up on photographing Multnomah Falls altogether due to the volume of spray being blown around. The green mold on the rock walls might give another hint at a bit of dampness year round.

Stone Wall

I loved this mossy stone wall. It snaked through the forest and would have made for some great sinuous curve photos had it not been for all of the tree limbs and brush in the way of the wider shots.

Bridge Over Latourel Creek

If you like bridges, this is a great place. I finished this image and the next one with a filter recipe in the new Color Efex Pro 4 that I like called Warm Sunset. It stacks polarization, sunlight, and vignette filters. I made some tweaks to the image above.

The image below is the filter effect untouched. A bit too warm for me in most cases, but I guess that is the point of the filter.

Latourel Creek Bridge

Old Friends

Posted in Photography Technique with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 1, 2011 by chamimage

Ford Truck

I finished my latest project, the children’s book, now awaiting translation into Hebrew, of all things, since the first publisher to express an interest is in Tel Aviv. Hopefully someone in the US will show an interest later. I will put it on Blurb, but print on demand is always more expensive per book. I have actually already personally sold one of the Hebrew books. Long story…

So, rather than dive right into another big project I always like to do something fun for a few days. I was looking at my Photoshelter site and looking at the listing they give of the 100 most viewed images. It always intrigues me as to why the most viewed images are viewed the most. Even the people that run Photoshelter wrote recently that they are intrigued and helpless to explain some of the  most popular images as well. Google ranking has a lot to do with it, which comes down to keywords. Unfortunately, I can’t get away with putting the keywords Maasai, Herding, and Cattle on every image because that blows everything else away on both Photoshelter and Flickr (just putting those words in the text here will probably rank this blog way up there). I don’t know why. Who are these people looking at African tribesmen herding cattle and why?

Anyway, one of the reasons those images are most viewed is because they have been on Photoshelter for a long time. Which led me to realize that the most eyes are falling on images that were optimized years ago and could really use an update. My Photoshop workflow has improved enormously since most of those images were optimized.

Maasai Village Chief

So I’ve spent the past couple of days re-working the most viewed images. There were a handful of images that I didn’t touch. There were another handful I liked, but tried re-working them to see if it made a difference and it didn’t to any great degree. But, in about 80% of the images the change was dramatic. Most of the older images had color casts. I color corrected them at the time, but they were awful. I now use Nik Color Efex Pro generously and most of the images benefited from my new work flow with a touch of Tonal Contrast to bring out some detail.

Lob Cabin

The black and white images benefited from Nik Silver Efex Pro.

Elephant Butt

It has been a fun couple of days. Re-visiting old images is like visiting old friends and sharing memories with them of the good old days.

White-throated Magpie Jay

Like the jays we chased all over a farmer’s field in Costa Rica during a rain shower.

Serval Kittens

Or the morning spent with the serval kittens in the Masai Mara. Good friends. Good stories.