Experimenting with the Nik Collection Software & Silver Efex Pro

I’ve been reading a lot lately about Monochrome converted DSLR’s and since I love photographing in B/W, the thought of purchasing a used camera for conversion has been teasing my mind. Since I already have a higher end DSLR that produces excellent monochrome when processed in Lightroom and Photoshop, not to mention a full spectrum converted Mirror-less for monochrome infrared photography, I am struggling with the thought of paying out a few thousand dollors for another camera.
Though I know I would love to shoot in Black and White again, just like the film days, I decided to try the next best thing – software that emulates film. Nik Collection Silver Efex Pro.

Plant Photography, Leaf, Pentax M200/4, 1.4TC, 44mm ext tube, Bishop CA, Pentax K1, Macro, Macro Photography, @1:2 magnification, Closeup Photography, Monochrome, Monochrome Photography, Nik Silver Efex

Other than the vocabulary, I find working in Silver Efex Pro to be very intuitive much like working in the darkroom. I don’t really care for the preset effects but find the selection of film styles to be very similar to what I had worked with pre-digital. Everything from various Agfa to Kodak films. When I shot film I usually preferred the Ilford Delta series but found I do like the TMAX and Tri-X emulation this software provides. One can set the film style of choice, adjust grain and then proceed with normal darkroom techniques.

The selective point allows adjusting brightness, contrast and detail to a given area. This is where I wish it actually used the vocabulary of dodge and burn but the results are similar. One can also do these adjustments to the image as a whole as well as fine tune highlight and shadow while bringing in detail (structure in the vocabulary.)

Plant Photography, Leaf, Pentax M200/4, 1.4TC, 44mm ext tube, Bishop CA, Pentax K1, Macro, Macro Photography, @1:2 magnification, Closeup Photography, Monochrome, Monochrome Photography, Nik Silver Efex

What I enjoyed most was the loupe view which has the zone system overlaid so one can see how much of the photo falls into each zone from no detail white to pure black.

And to top it off there is a finalization series to bring the image to full print characteristics. Everything from tones, edge burns, and even custom negative carrier edges.

Here is a before and after, the original was shot on a converted camera with an 850IR filter. The second is the same photo run through Silver Efex Pro. Click to enlarge for viewing differences.

I was originally only interested in the Silver Efex but it comes as part of a complete download in the Nik Collection. I couldn’t help put experiment with the Analog Efex while I was at it. Great fun for creating that 60’s snapshot effect. Another before and after, bland photo turned into vintage.

Best part is Google is offering this software for free now and it plugs right into PS as a filter. It just might curb my desire for that monochrome DSLR.

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