There’s a whole school of photographers who do black-and-white and enjoy precisely controlling every aspect of the photographic process (think Ansel Adams and his aficionados). Those photographers will love Nik Software’s new Silver Efex Pro plug-in for Adobe Photoshop and Apple Aperture 2.1 because it makes it easy to exercise precise control over the image-perfecting process.
You start with a basic neutral conversion of a color image (be it scanned from film or a digital camera original) into black-and-white and then apply any of more than 20 preset styles with a simple mouse click. Presets include such effects as ambrotype and tintype, artistic renderings, high-contrast, soft focus and grain effects.
You then can apply color-filter and toning effects (including sepia, selenium, split-toning and user-defined colors), vignettes and more. There are 18 emulated black-and-white film “looks,” as well as a state-of-the-art grain engine that produces natural film-grain variations. The software also provides Smart Filter compatibility in Photoshop and multi-image support in Aperture.
What’s even better than all the control Silver Efex Pro gives you is how easy it is to apply. Nik Software’s powerful U Point technology makes working on an image downright simple. To apply an effect to a specific portion of an image, just drag and drop a Control Point directly onto that area of the image, then use the point’s handy sliders to adjust the size of the affected area, brightness, contrast, etc.
Each Control Point automatically creates a unique set of U Point Pixel Characteristics for itself. You can add as many Control Points as you like; each time you add one, U Point Pixel Characteristics are calculated for that Control Point and factored into a central, intelligent blending function, which becomes more intelligent as more Control Points are added. You can change or undo any enhancement at any time, in any order. The bottom line: You can apply the effect you want where you want, with no need for complex selections, masks or layers and no “rough edges” or artifacts.
Silver Efex Pro is available via electronic delivery from Nik Software and in boxed form through Nik and specialty camera retailers. Estimated Street Price: $199. Contact: Nik Software, (619) 725-3150, www.niksoftware.com.