Nik Silver Efex Pro 2

I’ve mentioned this before but I’m not huge on doing reviews. There are people out there who are way more qualified than I am to give a full rundown on different photographic equipment. The posts I do on gear are more about my experiences and how I use things. So here’s a super short review on a software program that I just added to my workflow.

One of the biggest challenges I have with Photoshop is creating black & white images that I’m happy with. I don’t do it often but there are times where I need to convert an image to black & white and I’m never happy with the results of using various different adjustment layer methods. I’ve been seeing so many good reviews about Nik’s Silver Efex Pro 2 that I decided I needed to check it out. I had the first version of Silver Efex Pro but for some reason I couldn’t get it to work when I upgraded to my new computer. But, there were enough advancements in the 2nd version that I didn’t mind paying for the upgrade.

I decided to experiment on one of my images that I shot during a test shoot a few months ago. Here’s the base image:

This next image is what it looks like using a black & white adjustment layer and applying the green filter:

This is what it looks like running it through Silver Efex Pro real quick. I still haven’t experimented enough with the program to know exactly what everything is doing. So, this image is using one of the provided presets and then using a control point to make her face a little less contrasty:

I don’t necessarily see a huge difference between the two besides a little more contrast and sharpness out of the Silver Efex Pro version. I could probably apply a quick curves layer, add a bit of sharpening and then play around with some layer masks to get it closer but the biggest thing here is efficiency. I was able to get something I’m super happy with basically with 3 clicks in Silver Efex Pro. Trying to play around with adjustment layers would take me a bit longer and even though I don’t mind being behind the computer for hours it’s always nice to be a little more efficient.

The thing I’m most excited about is using black & white images created in Silver Efex Pro to create some cool sports lifestyle color images:

In all honesty, I like the way this image turned out better than the original image that we started with. I like how it’s a little more rough and less saturated. I think this software could become a staple in my lifestyle work in both my color, and black & white photos. It’s definitely worth checking out if you are looking for an easy to use program that produces great photos. They also have some other great programs that are worth checking out too. After how much I enjoyed using Silver Efex Pro I’ve been considering picking up Color Efex Pro 4 too. It’s another one of those programs that I always here photographers raving about and  it’s definitely on the top of my “to buy” list.

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