Nik Software Silver Efex Pro2: Fine Art Process
Below is my first test of Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro2 Photoshop plugin for black and white photographs.
Reworked image using Silver Efex Pro2 “Fine Art Process” (top):
Compared to the original image with no Silver Efex (bottom):
I love the way the “Fine Art Process” filter improved the contrast and brought out highlights that were “muddled” in the original image. I now see better contrast and more vibrant highlights in the grass, on the fence rails, and throughout the clouds. The whole image just “pops” now.
Looking at my “Fine Art” version of this print, I can see where the name “Silver Efex” came from. The tonal range far more resembles that which used to be obtained only with old silver-based fiber black and white photographic papers. Of course, there are modern-day “true black and white” papers available for today’s digital printing, but you’ve got to have that tonal range in your image to start with, in order for any paper to capture it. I can see that Silver Efex Pro2 is my solution for capturing that full tonal range in my black and whites.
I only wish I’d had this application prior to purchasing a 20×30 custom framed enlargement of this photo. I didn’t want to admit it, but I’d been a bit disappointed with the contrast and with loss of highlights in many areas in my enlargement, especially in the grass and along the fence. I am seriously contemplating having a new print made, that is how much better the “Fine Art” effect looks. Forget contemplating… now that I see how the image could look, I’ll never be happy until I replace it. Live and learn!
While the differences may be hard to detect here in blog-sized images, the improvement is extremely obvious when looking at full-resolution images scaled comparable to enlargement sizes. It may help to click on the images to open them larger (you’ll need to use your browser’s back button to return to this post).
However, the best way to see the true “efex” of this software is to try it yourself. The Silver Efex Pro2 plugin is available for Photoshop CS3 through CS5, Photoshop Lightroom 2.6 through 3.0 or later, or Photoshop Elements. Learn more about this fantastic application and get a 15-day free trial here:
If, like me, you purchased Silver Efex Pro on or after December 6, 2010 you will receive a complimentary upgrade to Silver Efex Pro2. You must have created a Login with Nik Software and registered your original product first. Then you’ll be able to obtain a new product key for your free Pro2 upgrade.
My thanks to photographers Dan Moughamian (@Colortrails on Twitter) and Jason Odell (@jason_odell on Twitter) for their reviews of Silver Efex Pro2 and their advice on why it is superior to the original Silver Efex Pro. I hadn’t even used my new software yet when their reviews made me aware the updated version was available. I’m glad I acted upon their advice and made the upgrade.
What I have discovered in my initial exploration is that there are a vast number of “preset” filter effects in the new Silver Efex Pro2. The “Fine Art Process” is the one I liked the best by far, at least for this image, but I have only just begun to play with the application. You can also create your own “Custom” filter effects. There are additionally nearly infinite controls which can be achieved, either globally to an entire image, or locally to specific parts of the image. I’ve only started my exploration of the possibilities, but this one filter alone makes me thrilled to have the program!
I can see many hours of late-night play ahead in As Seen by Janine’s “Mad Digital Scientist Lab.”
As Seen by Janine: Eyes of the World Images