Bethesda Fountain is one of the larger fountains in New York’s Central Park. I used a 25-second exposure to soften the water. I then converted the image to monochrome using Silver Efex Pro 2, where I was able to create the soft look in the sky.
I’ve posted some excerpts from Mastering Silver Efex Pro 2.0, my 2+ hour video companion to The Photographer’s Guide to Silver Efex Pro 2. You can find the excerpts (and more videos) over at my YouTube feed. Note that these videos are presented at lower resolution than the downloadable version of Mastering Silver Efex Pro 2.0, which is presented in 720p HD format.
I’m pleased to announce the immediate availability of two new educational products from Luminescence of Nature Photography that will allow you to quickly master the art of black and white digital conversion using the Silver Efex Pro 2 plug-in from Nik Software.
The Photographer’s Guide to Silver Efex Pro 2 is a 200-page PDF guide (eBook) that covers every tool, slider, and feature in Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro 2 plug-in. Here’s the manual that you’ll want to use to learn all the new features in Silver Efex Pro 2.0, including Dynamic Brightness, Soft Contrast, Fine Structure, and Selective Colorization. The book is delivered in electronic (PDF) format, and is readable on Macs, PCs, and iPads (to view on the iPad, you’ll need to transfer the PDF file from your computer using iTunes). I’ve also included a set of custom style presets that you can load into Silver Efex Pro 2: Continue reading Master Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro 2→
We all know that a good black and white (monochrome) image can create quite an impact. Monochrome is a very powerful creative tool, because it can be used to shift the emphasis in your images from colors to textures. High-contrast color images can look strange, but high-contrast monochrome images can be stunning. But there’s another reason you should consider learning the art of black and white digital photography– it lets you expand your shooting conditions.
Even with the best digital cameras, we still face challenges when it comes to certain situations, like mixed lighting, mid-day scenery, or high-ISO work. Many times, you’ll recognize these conditions and either throw away the images or just not shoot altogether. With black and white in your bag of tricks, you don’t have to. Midday landscapes? No problem– just emphasize the textures and use color filter techniques to cut through haze. If you are shooting in a mixture of lighting conditions, like daylight, fluorescent, and incandescent, converting to black and white lets you discard the cacophony of colors and focus on your subject. If your camera produces noise at higher ISOs, it won’t matter in a black and white image– that noise might just look like film grain and be entirely believable.
If you’re going to dabble in black and white, make sure your editing software is up to the task. Simply clicking the “desaturate” command will leave your images flat and uninspiring. I recommend using dedicated black and white conversion tools that let you work with color channel data to get the best results. Lightroom, Aperture, and Capture NX2 can all produce quality black and white images. There are also dedicated 3rd-party plug-ins for monochrome that do an even better job and provide more creative options. My personal favorite is currently Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro 2.0, but there are other good programs out there, too. I suggest downloading a trial version before you purchase anything.
If you use Lightroom, Aperture, or Photoshop, I highly recommend using Silver Efex Pro for black and white. It’s just that powerful. But as you can see, Capture NX 2 users need not fret about the fact that SEP isn’t available for them as a native plug-in. You can do very well with Capture NX 2; even better if you have Color Efex Pro 3.0 installed.