Scratching the Surface of Nik Color Efex Pro 4 to Work

About a week ago Google made its complete Nik Collection suite of plug-ins for Photoshop and Photoshop Elements available as a free download. In an earlier post I explained what was in the collection and where to download it.

In my last post on this subject, I illustrated how the Dfine 2 plug-in can be easily used to reduce the noise that results when an image is captured using an extremely high ISO.

This time, we take a very brief look at what  Nik Color Efex Pro 4 can do. It has so many presets and effects that there is no way to do it justice in one short blog post. So instead, I’ll just illustrate what I did to pretty overexposed image. I chose to use Photoshop Elements 14 for this post, but earlier versions of Elements, and of course Photoshop could be used as well.

  1. First, I added one of the image Border presets in Color Efex Pro 4.
  2. Then I added one of the Color Efex Pro 4 Tonal Contrast presets.
  3. At that point,I added a traditional Brightness/Contrast Adjustment Layer.
  4. I then merged these layers into a composite layer using Ctrl+Alt+Shift+E.
  5. Finally, I applied the auto profile setting of Dfine 2, since the adjustments I was adding to this small JPEG image were beginning to take its toll.

Shown below is the layer stack I ended up with.

Efex Pro Layer Stack

A couple points are worth noting here. First I had set the Options in Color Efex Pro 4 to apply each effect on its own layer. Among other things, this allowed me to tweak the impact of the effect by adjusting the Opacity of the layer. Also, note that you can intermingle Color EfexPro 4 layers with layers dealing with Photoshop Elements commands. Think of the multitude of presets embedded in Color Efex Pro 4 as starting points for you to adjust to create your own vision of the captured scene.

The figure below compares my before and after for this simple example.

Efex Pro Before After.jpg

I hope you found this post helpful. If so, click on the Like and share it with others using the buttons below. Also, let me know what you think of the Nik Collection in the comments below.

Using Nik Collection’s Dfine 2

In my previous post, I relayed the news that Google had made the popular Photoshop plug-in, Nik Collection suite, available as a free download. I took them up on their offer, and have been exploring some of its modules. In this post I want to highlight the Dfine 2 noise removal component.

I started with an under exposed RAW photo taken at night. I had my camera set on an ISO of 16,000, but even then I had to bring up the exposure in the Adobe Camera RAW editor. I then opened the image in Photoshop Elements 14. The Nik Collection works nicely with PSE. You access the various modules using the Filter menu in the Expert mode of Elements.

PSE Accessing Nik

The only processing I did within the Editor was to apply the Dfine 2 using its default Automatic Profile settings. The results are shown below  at 100%.

Dfine 2 After Before

I may have been able to get similar results using the Noise Reduction Filter in PSE 14, but I know from experience, it would have been much more work. I am also pretty sure that tweaking the settings of Dfine 2 would have also produced better results.

Have any of you tried the Nik package yet? What do you think? I’ll report back on other  modules in the suite as I further explore them. Stay tuned.

Download Nik Collection Software From Google For Free

You may have seen this announcement elsewhere, but just in case you haven’t, Google is providing the complete Nik Collection of plug-ins as a free download.

For those of you not familiar with the Nik Collection, it is a suite of several plug-ins that integrate with Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, and Lightroom that adds a variety of effects and advanced settings for enhancing your images.

These tools include:

  • Color Efex Pro
  • Analog Efex Pro
  • Silver Efex Pro
  •  Viveza
  • HDR Efex Pro
  • Sharpener Pro
  • Dfine

You can find out much more about the plug-ins and download the complete suite from the link below.

You really should take advantage of this opportunity. Up until this announcement, the software package  sold for about $150, and was one of the most popular packages of its kind.

I will have more to say about the Nik Collection in future posts.