I often think my B&W Conversions could be better and sometimes play around for quite a while before I get close to what I want and even then often think it could be done better - I generally use just Lightroom adjustments these days rather than PS.
I was recommended NIK's Silver Efex Pro & wondered how many people use it? How easy is it to use ? What are your experiences - good or bad?
I know it is now only available along with the other plugins from the NIK suite but I am not really interested in them - I just want to improve my B&W conversions
There is nothing that a plug-in can do that can't be done in PS without it BUT plug-ins make life easier. The Nik plug-ins are generally very good and crucially, for a plug-in, they allow you a lot of freedom to make your own adjustments. The cheaper plug-ins that just do what they say but give no freedom to adjust are pretty worthless.
The thing that gets missed, so often, when discussing plug-ins, is that they are still a program and as such need to be learnt. Nik plug-ins are, arguably, some of the biggest learning curves in the plug-in market.
With all plug-ins, use subtly.
Nik is very good. I had the DXO one and took it off.
Whilst it's all subjective (of course) I'd suggest that if you're not totally satisfied with your B&W nudes look firstly at how you shoot your subject.
If you're shooting with a soft modifier then try positioning a hard (small) silvered modifier immediately in front of it, at about the same power, and this will add a subtle but pleasant highlight to the skin. You can enhance this further if the model's skin is very lightly oiled or moisturised.
And for best shadow detail always ETTR in camera and drop exposure back in post. Most RAW processors will allow significant highlight recovery so you can push this quite a bit. That way you'll capture much better tonal graduation in the shadows.
So far as post work is concerned it's mostly about controlling contrast and luminosity in the colour channels leading up to the B&W conversion. There are dozens of ways of achieving that.
Unfortunately Jeremy you have highlighted one of things I was afraid of - the learning curve. I seem to have a low threshold for learning to use software and soon get frustrated if things aren't obvious.
Unfortunately Jeremy you have highlighted one of things I was afraid of - the learning curve.
It's not that bad and there are presets that are easy to use.
I just prefer DXO because the film styles it has are more convincing especially in terms of the tones it gives and their grain filters (if you choose to apply them) seem to more closely replicate that of real film. I think there's a demo so you can at least try it out.
Thanks again all - I was waiting till today to see if there was any offer
The NIK software page via google didn't seem to reduce from the £95 but I subscribe to Kelbyone/NAPP (Photoshop User Online magazine) & got a flyer though to buy /extend membership by a year for $149 and get the NIK software included