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Solutions: Nik HDR Efex Pro 2

Finer control and more functionality in the new version of this popular software
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HDR is a controversial topic, especially for OP readers. In this issue of the magazine, we’re featuring an article by renowned nature photographer Tom Till on his own epiphany regarding how easy it is to overdo the effects of HDR to the point where your photos start to look over-the-top and garish. But that overdone look is only one aspect of HDR. When used with more subtlety, the technology can balance the exposure in a challenging image to the point where the photograph is rendered much closer to the way the human eye sees it. In fact, the best HDR is less noticeable than the hard line of a graduated neutral-density filter cutting through the frame (which used to be the only way to control high-contrast scenes).

Recently, Nik Software released the updated version of their popular HDR Efex Pro software, and this new version will be welcomed by OP readers. Among the refinements are the ability to make much more natural-looking photos, thanks to a more powerful tone-mapping engine, much better ghost reduction, depth control and the selective fine-tuning of Nik U Point Technology. Here’s a quick listing of the new features as described by Nik:

• Improved Tone-Mapping Engine. Develop superior results with better color rendering and improved natural styles.

• Interface, Interaction and Workflow. Benefit from improvements to the merging interface, tone-mapping and enhancement controls, visual presets and more.

• Depth Control. Enjoy added depth and realism in images with the new and proprietary depth control, which helps counteract the flattened look commonly associated with HDR images.

• Full GPU Processing and Multi-Core Optimization. Gain even faster performance with GPU processing that takes full advantage of the processors found on modern display adapters.

• Ghost Reduction. Improved ghost-reduction algorithm ensures that artifacts created by moving objects are removed with a single click.

• Chromatic-Aberration Reduction. Reduce color fringes around objects.

• Graduated Neutral-Density Control. Access the full 32-bit depth of the merged image, providing a natural effect, especially on images with a strong horizon line.

• Full White-Balance Control. Take full advantage of the white balance in an image with a new Tint slider, which along with the Temperature slider, can be applied both globally as well as selectively using U Point Technology.

• History Browser. Easily review adjustments and different HDR looks via the History Browser, which records every enhancement used in an editing session.

• Extended Language Support. International users benefit by the addition of Brazilian Portuguese and Chinese (simplified and traditional) to a list of languages that includes English, French, Spanish, German, Italian and Japanese.

The new HDR Efex Pro 2 is most welcome for its ability to exercise finer control over the images to create more natural effects. Most photographers get into trouble with HDR when they start
to make big adjustments across the whole photo.

Ghosting—seeing something move in the image because it moved in each frame of the HDR capture sequence—is one of the most objectionable artifacts in an HDR image. In the original HDR Efex Pro, ghosting reduction was automated, leaving the photographer no control. In the new version of the software, you can reference a specific capture, and freeze the motion from that capture and apply it to the overall image. You also can decide by how much you want to reduce the ghosting or if you want to eliminate it completely.

This is just one of the features in the new version of HDR Efex Pro 2 that we find useful. Look for more coverage of the technology and more how-to articles on the effective and subtle use of HDR in coming issues.

For more information about HDR Efex Pro 2, visit Nik Software at