Category Archives: Tips and Tricks

Rusty Furnace, HDR-style

Antique furnace at the Western Mining Museum, Colorado Springs, CO

A black & white version of this image appears in my new book on HDR.  I thought it would be fun to reprocess it in color for a different flavor.

I took a 5-shot hand-held exposure series (bracketed at f/8, ISO 640 with D3s) and merged the files in Nik’s HDR Efex Pro.  I then applied the “Artistic_Interiors_03” preset for HDR Efex Pro developed by Tony Sweet for our book (you can download all 14 of our custom HDR presets for free, here).

I used Control Points within HDR Efex Pro to tone down the saturation and brightness in the background, which helps draw your attention to the furnace.  I also added a mild vignette effect.  Final touches were done in Capture NX2 with the Tonal Contrast filter from Nik’s Color Efex Pro 3 plug-in.

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Thanks for looking, and Happy Holidays!


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Video: Using HDR Efex Pro with Capture NX2

I’ve been swamped with emails and feedback about my new eBook with Tony Sweet, The Photographer’s Guide to HDR Efex Pro.  One common question is “Can I use this with Capture NX2?”

The answer is yes and no.  Nik’s HDR Efex Pro won’t open NEF files on its own, and it doesn’t run as a native plug-in to Nikon’s Capture NX2.  However, the Lightroom plug-in version of HDR Efex Pro can be used as a stand-alone application, as long as you send it RGB images (TIFF or JPEG).  I recommend sending 16-bit TIFFs to HDR Efex Pro, and you can use Capture NX2 or any other RAW converter to do it.

Here are the basic steps for using HDR Efex Pro with a 3rd-party RAW converter.

  1. Apply generic global RAW conversion settings– set sharpening to “None” or “0”  and use these settings in a batch save to TIFF format (16-bit is best).
  2. Launch the Lightroom version of HDR Efex Pro
  3. Open the image series in HDR Efex Pro: File–>Open Exposure Series
  4. Tone-map the image.  You can learn everything you need about tone-mapping in The Photographer’s Guide to HDR Efex Pro.
  5. Save the tone-mapped image as a 16-bit TIFF.
  6. Open the tone-mapped image in Capture NX2 and save it as a NEF to preserve any further adjustments, like sharpening.

To see how it’s done, watch my instructional video, Nik’s HDR Efex Pro with Nikon’s Capture NX2 on YouTube!

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The Power of Selective Sharpening

Balanced Rock at Sunset

We all know that proper image sharpening is important to maximize your image quality. The problem is that most sharpening tools are poorly explained, or we rely on “gospel truths” passed through the Internet and take settings as absolutes. The reality is that there is no “one size fits all” setting for sharpening.

Continue reading The Power of Selective Sharpening

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Mastering the AF-ON Technique with Nikon DSLRs

On the rear panel of Nikon’s high-end DSLR bodies, including the D300, D700 and D3 series cameras, you’ll find a little button marked “AF-On.”  It seems kind of redundant to use this button for focusing when a half-press of the shutter release does the same thing.  Actually, I’ve found that setting the AF-On button to be the only way to activate AF is the best way to operate my Nikon’s AF system, but it requires a few set up steps and a little practice.

Why should you use the AF-On Only Technique with your Nikon DSLR?

The idea behind setting the AF-On button to be the only way to activate your Nikon’s autofocus system is simple.  Doing so allows you to set the camera to continuous-servo AF (AF-C) mode permanently, while still being able to get the benefit of focus-lock like you do in single-servo (AF-S) mode.  This means that at any time, you can switch between a focus/recompose/shoot style of photography (portraits and landscapes) and continuous subject tracking (sports & wildlife) without having to change camera switches or menu settings.

Also, with this technique, you decouple VR activation (half-press of shutter release) from AF activation.  That means you can be tracking a subject with AF and only engage VR when you want to.  This technique can save battery life in your camera!

Photoshop & Lightroom Guides by Jason Odell

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Fixing uneven skies with Capture NX 2 or Nik Viveza (video tip)

As someone who shoots a fair bit of landscapes out west, a polarizing filter is one of my favorite tools.  However, you have to be very careful when using a polarizing filter to avoid uneven polarization.

Uneven polarization is when one part of the sky is darkened more than other areas.  This can be a particularly easy thing to mess up, especially when you are using a moderately wide lens.  Take, for example, the following shot:

Courthouse rock, with an obviously overpolarized (and uneven) sky

I not only overpolarized the sky, but I failed to notice that the polarization was uneven.  The upper right corner is just WAY too dark.

Fortunately, if you use Capture NX 2 or Nik Viveza 2, a Color Control Point can quickly and easily come to the rescue.

I used a single CCP in Capture NX 2 and used the “Color Picker” to sample the color from the upper left sky and fix the overpolarized image.

A Color Control Point in conjunction with the Color Picker lets you fix the sky.

Click here for a video tutorial on how I made this fix

The final result looks absolutely natural:

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