In this, the final chapter of this tutorial we get deeper into Silver Efex Pro to show how we can fine tune this high key black and white portrait. We teak the brightness and contrast with the highlights, midtones, shadows and dynamic brightness sliders. We also use amplify whites and blacks and tweak soft contrast to change the balance of tones in the image. We use a colour filter to bring out detail and finally do some spot editing with Silver Efex control points.
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In this chapter we start by using Nik Color Efex Pro for skin softening and then back to Lightroom briefly for cropping and rotation. Finally we get into Nik Silver Efex Pro to start the black and white high key portrait conversion. We begin with presets that get us quite a long way towards where we want to go.
Nik software's heads must be spinning right now wondering what hit them. One moment they're on an all time high because Google just bought their company and the next the internet is filled with photographers all clearly somewhere in the 7 stages of grief about it. Check out the comments on Nik's announcement post: http://education.niksoftware.com/2012/09/17/google-acquires-nik-software/. Here are a few highlights from their comments and from Twitter:
1. Shock and denial
Comment on Nik's post: This is terrifying. You make the best plug-ins in the business. I am scared.
2. Pain and guilt
Comment on Nik's post: You just ruined my day. Sorry to see this happen to a good product line :-(
3. Anger and bargaining
Comment on Nik's post: It would be helpful to have a statement from you or Google or GooNik or Nikoogle as to what this means for your products.
4. Depression, reflection, loneliness
Comment on Nik's post: I guess this is the beginning of the end, after 12 years of using your plug-ins, probably time to move on.
5. The upward turn
Comment on Nik's post: I was planning on upgrading my complete collection, but I’m glad I haven’t done so yet. Time to look for a replacement.
6. Reconstruction and working through
Comment on Nik's post: Oh well. Snapseed was great while it lasted. Time to find an alternative app I guess.
7. Acceptance and hope
On Twitter @chrismarquardt: I see it as an opportunity to do more education around how to get great b/w conversions without the help of NIK
Ok so that's all very entertaining but seriously, should we be worried? Well I'd say yes - worried. But not necessarily in despair, yet. So far we've not seen a response from Google or Nik describing what will happen to Nik's existing product line. All we have to go on is Google's previous track record. Sadly that hasn't been so good. The recent google acquisition, Sparrow, immediately ceased development. And before that Picnik, the web based photo editing software - was also closed down. Certainly the future looks very bleak for Nik's IOS products.
No doubt we'll see improved photo editing tools in Google's own products like Android and Google+ but what about Nik's existing product line? At the very least it seems likely that talent within Nik will be at least partially distracted into Google products. It seems like Google likes to acquire companies for the talent rather than the products. If that's the case here I believe it'll be the end of the very best plug-in products on the market - products I use very regularly. But perhaps part of the deal with Google is that the Nik plugins will go on. Or perhaps I'm just in stage 1 myself.
Those of you looking for good alternatives should look at Topaz Labs and OnOne Software. This is a huge opportunity for those guys and if they're smart they'll think about offering discounts or cross-grade deals.
[The attached picture, by the way, is one of my old black and whites which I just recently re-processed from the original RAW using Silver Efex Pro and got a very pleasing result in a fraction of the time it originally took me with Photoshop]