Google Nik Collection: HDR Efex Pro 2

Google announced recently that Google Nik Collection is available for free. Pundits speculate this almost certainly means there will be no further development of these popular popular photo editing plug-ins for Apple Aperture, Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, etc. Who knows? I downloaded and installed the software anyway.

The following semi-photorealistic composite image is the output of a quick-and-dirty test of “HDR Efex Pro 2,” one of eight plug-ins in the collection. I opened a set of three bracketed exposures (+/- two stops of exposure) in Adobe Lightroom CC 2015. Then I used the Nik plug-in to stack and tone map the image; I saved the output and cropped it slightly using Lightroom.

P1330734_HDR

23 MAR 2016 | Meadowood Recreation Area | Hidden Pond

The result is fairly good for my first foray into using one the plug-ins featured in the Google Nik Collection. There’s a little strangeness in the rendering of some of the clouds that are visible among the trees, near the upper-center of the image. I’m guessing there’s a way to fix that problem using “control points,” where the real magical power of Nik happens. There’s always more to learn, time permitting.

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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20 Responses to “Google Nik Collection: HDR Efex Pro 2”

  1. Victor Rakmil Says:

    Nice shot. Great software. Lots of resources on line. Viveza is great for landscapes.

    • waltersanford Says:

      Thanks, Victor. I described the composite image as a quick-and-dirty test of “HDR Efex Pro 2,” and it was — I used all the default settings and didn’t tweak anything. I just wanted to see whether it’s possible to use the plug-in to produce an acceptably good looking semi-photorealistic HDR; turns out it is. Thanks for the tip re: “Viveza.” Have you published a post that shows the before- and after versions of one of your Viveza-ified landscape photos?

      • Victor Rakmil Says:

        Yes but it’s a while back, I will try to find it. For your macro shots. Color efx pro detail extractor.

        • waltersanford Says:

          Regarding Color Efex, what is your recommended workflow? How would the workflow change if I were to focus stack a set of macro shots, using Photoshop to do the compositing?

        • waltersanford Says:

          Would you be willing to edit one of my macro shots using “Color Efex Pro Detail” in order to *show me* how the plug-in could be used to enhance the image? If so, then I’ll make one of the RAW files available for you to download on Dropbox.

          • Victor Rakmil Says:

            Walter I think that would not help. Try this open a photo in Color EFX pro with the filter detail extractor. On the right hand side use the following settings 25 for detail extractor, 6 for contrast and 6 for saturation. Now go down to where it says control points and click on the triangle to the left. Add plus points to your subject, each tone requires its own control point, you will see the points added to a list as you add more as you go along, size them by pulling in the handle that appears beside the control points. Now click on the square at the extreme right where the list of control points. This will turn the photo into a mask. Where the control points have affected things beyond the control points add minus control points to make the mask go black in those areas, no need to resize them. Duplicate one or more of the plus points (toggle at the bottom of the list list) to add to your subject where it greys out. You subject should be white. Now the effect is subtle but noticeable. Click on the square again to see you photo with the effect added in. At the top of the panel is a check mark, clicking it on and off will show how the control points have affected your subject. Try this and if you have more questions ask. Control points in Viveza work differently. Hope this helps.

          • waltersanford Says:

            Thanks for the detailed, step-by-step instructions, Victor! I’ll give it a try and get back to you.

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