Nik’s Detail Extractor

Here’s two copies of same image. The one that shows more details in the shadows, on the left, was manipulated with Nik’s Color Effects Pro 4, Detail Extractor. I don’t work or sell the software, but I sure like what you can do with some of the tools. The Nik suite used to cost nearly $800, but now that Google bought it you can get all the programs for $149. Anyway, thought you might like to know….

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Joshua Tree Winter Sunrise

Capturing reds can be a challenge

Bob Killen, a great teacher of photography and Photoshop techniques, explained to me when I was capturing images as an artist in residence in the Mojave National Preserve, that digital sensors can go berserk when there is too much red in the sky. Sometimes the morning glow is off the charts, and the sensor can’t cope. Such was the case yesterday over Joshua Tree National Park.

To compensate, I deliberately underexposed two F stops. That made the shadows go black, resulting in foreground silhouette.

Raw Photo Processor, or RPP

I opened these images in Raw Photo Processor, which unfortunately only works on Apple computers. It is, however, the best raw processor I know of for Fujifilm X-series cameras. Adobe has yet to catch up. I understand others do good work, but RPP works extremely well if you use Apple computers. There is a learning curve with RPP, requiring study of 50-page pdf. But the work is worth it.

I added two F stops of exposure in RPP, compressed the highlights, tweaked the red, blue and green channels, then output a 16-bit tiff file. The idea behind RPP is to produce the best “negative” you can, then begin work in a post-processing program like Photoshop, Aperture, Lightroom, etc.

Changed it immediately to 8-bit in PS, which requires less computing power. Killen would say keep it in 16-bit because it preserves more color information.

I next duped the background layer.

Nik software

I now turned to Nik software, and first applied the Color Effects Pro 4 application. There are some 50 different filters, all with different sub-categories, or pre-suggested algorithms. I have two formulas that I often use and applied my preset that automatically applies a skylight filter, brilliance/warmth, and bleach bypass. I did this to two of the images. The others used only one of them, the bleach bypass filter. You can see which was applied to which image by reading the captions.

All of these filters can be tweaked to taste.

Then on another layer, I went again to the Nik filters, and this time used Viveza 2. I used only a control point, but repeated it across the top half of the image, to bring detail back into the upper part of the sky. I did this to the red-sky images. Not to the others.

And that’s it.

Sounds complicated, and it is, but in time the process goes quickly, and the results can be stunning. At least I think so.

Black and White

In Post Processing

Using a quality camera, like Fujifilm X-Pro1, their lenses, or those made by Zeiss, then opening the image using a good Raw converter like Raw Photo Processor, which only works with Apple computers, ¬†then going straight into Nik software HDR — even taking just a single image, then on a new layer in Photoshop using Nik software Color Effects Pro, then into Silver Effects Pro to make a black and white. Sounds complicated, but takes about six minutes per image. But, the results can be pleasing to the eye, at least to my eye.

No Trespassing

This sign hangs on a Joshua Tree in the yard next to our home. It is tired, dirty, loaded with texture. Nik software has been used to bring out the texture. Remember, a digital photograph is a linear capture of data and must be manipulated with some kind of post processing software to enhance and bring out three dimensionality of the image. Nik software has been used to do the job in this image.

Image BEFORE Nik software used

Image BEFORE Nik software used

Image AFTER Nik software used

Image after Nik software used

Legacy lenses on the X-Pro1

Tested the Minolta 28mm manual focus F3.5 lens, manufactured in the 70s. Not fast. Must shoot at F 8, therefore requires higher ISO settings. Paid $24 plus $9 for adaptor. Plus $10 for shipping for the lens. Results? 

Shot at a carnival in Yucca Valley. Not many people. But I discovered how garish, Halloween-like are the colors of the equipment at these mobile carneys. The colors were so odd and non-beautiful the only thing I could do is convert to b and w, using Nik Silvereffects Pro. Then I had to use yellow or green filters to get anywhere, to offset those garish colors. But you can see the results below and by going to see even more images at jimsmartphotography.com and look for the post labeled “mobile carnival.”