This is where you start
When you open an image up from Photoshop, Lightroom, Photoshop Elements, Nikon Capture NX2 or Aperture you are presented with a neutral conversion that is the base from which begin to work.
Did that make any sense? Probably not, but this may. I don’t think the control points work very well in SilverEfex and never use them!
|Next on the list are the Colour Filters. We have used adjustments like these in previous tutorials, the different colours affecting the final image by “altering” the base colour of the image the black & white image is created from. SilverEfex has fine controls that allow you to tweak the hue of the filter and its strength. I really like this feature and use it a lot.|
|Next we come to the Film Types, these options are “recreations” of some classic black & white films and seek to imitate the contrast, colour sensitivity and grain of the originals. these are great starting points if you are trying to find a look for your images.||The Film Types Available|
|The dropdown offers customization options for grain, colour sensitivity and contrast
||The expanded film panel|
|The Finishing Adjustments panel is a wonderful treasure trove of effects. The Toning section has a vast array of presets to start you off and the controls allow you tweak the results to suit. The panel works in a similar way to Lightroom’s toning panel, except the controls effect the Silver (the image layer) and the Paper (the base layer). You can select the hue of the tone , its strength and the balance between the two layers. If you don’t have Lightroom the toning panel is a compelling reason to get get SilverEfex|
|The Vignette panel works as you would expect allowing you put a uniform light or dark edge on the image. The Burn panel is similar but different. The Burn panel only allows you to darken the edges but each edge is independent of the others and can be varied by Strength (how dark the effect will be, Size (how wide) and Transition (the softness of the effect). Both panels offer presets.|
|The final Finishing Adjustment are new to SilverEfex 2 and these are Image Borders. What these do is add a white and black trim around a photograph (if you have OnOne’s PhotoFrame you will have a fair idea of what to expect) , and effect that used to be achieved in the darkroom by filling out the edges of the negative carrier. As I’ve only just got the new version of SilverEfex I haven’t had much chance to play with these yet but there seems to be a fair set of controls to nuance the edges and I think they work pretty well but the Borders will cover the edges of you photographs; you could overcome this by adding an empty edge around you image in Photoshop before adding the border but its a bit of a faff.|
|Finally, at the bottom of the panel is the Loupe & Histogram. As users of another imaging program I’m sure you know what these are. I don’t like the way this panel is stuck to the foot of the right-hand side, I would prefer it at the top with the ability to extend it down.|
If you mouse over the Loupe some a numbered scale appears beneath it and if you mouse over the numbers parts of your image may be overlaid by stripes of different colours. This scale is the Zone System a method of altering the exposure of black & white film so that the different tones of an image could be made lighter or darker.
The Zone System was developed by Ansel Adams and it would take a book to explain properly (there are plenty out there). I can see Scale’s usefulness in SilverEfex but only if you understand the system and even then its quite an abstract tool to use here. Nik have obviously spent time developing this part of the software but why then hide it away at the bottom of the panel?
That’s the processing side covered, the left-hand panels contain presets both those from Nik and ones of you own creation. Good starting points if you are stuck for creative ideas. I’ve gone on too long as it is so I won’t go into that side of the window.
There all the usual viewing options, preferences, zooms etc. littered around the window but you can discover them for yourselves.
So we come to the end of this series, I hope you enjoyed it, found it useful and that it didn’t irritate you too much. I do use all of the black & white conversion techniques we have discussed but I do tend to go to SilverEfex first because its quick and its very good at what it does. Is it worth getting? Possibly, if you do a lot of black &whites. Would I get the upgrade? Still undecided.
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