Anything I should consider besides Nik sw Silver Efex Pro?

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by leicaglow, Mar 2, 2009.

  1. I downloaded and used the Nik Software Silver Efex Pro demo and I'm very impressed. It really speeds up some workflow for me from scans, and I like the control it gives me. Before I buy it, are there any other similar tools I should be considering? I will be using it with PhotoShop. Thank you for your thoughts and experiences.
     
  2. We looked at some of theother Photoshop actions available, but we think that Nik and their U-Point technology is the best plug-in available. It has radically improved our workflowat our digital black & white lab. We have made some b&w prints for the Nik booth at the Photo Plus tradeshow last fall. We like the control it puts in your hands, how it works with grain, and that the effects are all local, to a specific area of the image, and not general changes. You should also consider looking at Sharpener if you haven't tried that.
    Eric Luden
    Digital Silver Imaging
     
  3. the free already included BW tools in CS4. But you have to get some knowledge, know how to work with level, curve, and create or simulate your film grain...basically if you want something done fast and easy no brainer style..i think you got the rigth package. If you want ot learn how to do it yourself, it take some time, but you will discover doing so that anything a external plugin can do you also can do it yourself. And if you create action out of it, well you got your own custom plugin : )
     
  4. Silver Efex Pro is impressive; if you're pleased go for it. Probably the best out there since Convert to B&W Pro ceased operations - that was my favorite tool. I'm not aware of any others.
    Patrick, I think everyone here is aware there is a basic B&W tool within CS3/4; and in addition, levels, curves and other adjustments are available. And that for years before that, there have been at least a dozen ways to get B&W within basic CS.
     
  5. Brad, whats your point? You just cant stop after the first sentence ; )
    The OP want a alternative, i give one to him..free.
     
  6. Patrick, do you really think Michael was unaware B&W conversion can be done with basic ps operations?
     
  7. why not? a lot of people i know are unaware of many tool in Ps. And why are you saying that the BW tool is basic? im curious.
    And for Michael, so i know, did you know CS4 had a BW tool that can do all you need?
     
  8. Oh, and since it cross my mind, heres another helping tips; Alien Skin Exposure.
     
  9. >>> And why are you saying that the BW tool is basic? im curious.
    Because it is. I've been using it since CS3.
    >>> did you know CS4 had a BW tool that can do all you need?
    It may do all you need. Others may want something different for a variety of reasons.
     
  10. Oh, so basic as a included feature you mean? i understand.
    As for people might need another tool, sure, why not! Thats why i said it can do whatever you need..nothing stop the OP of using something else indeed : ), but since its free maybe he will like to have a look at it before spending $
    So since whe undesrtand each other, let the rest of the thread be what is suppose to be without our usal misunderstanding.
     
  11. Since you are using Photoshop for this, it does have tools built in for BW, you might want to take a look at those and handle the way curves work. Besides you can save them as an action, but there are filters that are well thought out like the one you mention, and some others. often you end up using 2 or 3 for a certain kind of look or work, and if you take the time you can see how it is to make it in CS4. But if you are looking for more than a couple styles it might be worth buying
     
  12. As Plug-ins go Silver Efex is indeed a very good one. Patrick is right though, it helps to master all the techniques first in PS because it gives you a far better understanding of what you do. I also agree that it doesn't do anything that you can't do in PS but it indeed speeds up the work somewhat. Apart from the B&W tool however there is still the trusted Channel Mixer which I still prefer, probably because I'm so used to it.
    One of the reasons for first acquiring basic skills is that the structure slider for instance rapidly becomes destructive if you don't know what you're doing. Furthermore I find the film presets worse than useless (because not needed) and the filters are just overkill.
    Bottom line is just this. Are you willing to part with money for a plug-in that doesn't do anything that you can't do yourself?
     
  13. Thank you all. I know how to do B&W conversion<g>. I also have several freebie tools that do a decent job, but my main goal is vignetting and saving some of the actions for reuse on a series of shots. It is really the manipulation of the image after it is B&W that I'm interested in.
    Tom, Yeah, I really picked up on the structure bar becoming an issue with destroying pixel structure. OTOH, I was impressed that they put revisions on new layers. I also found that their "profiles" for various films are nowhere near my experience with each of them. But it is nice to be able to try different looks to quickly approximate what I'm going for.
    The other thing I hope they do is add a new slider to U-Point, which is the circle shape. Not just the size, but sliding to the middle gives you a perfect circle, sliding to the right gives you a horizontal ellipse, and left might give you a vertical ellipse.
    As for price: sure I can do it all myself, but if its controls are prepackaged, it does save me some time over stored actions. It's not too expensive, but it's not cheap either, and I want to make sure I'm not missing anything else.
     
  14. I sometimes do things from first principles in PS but to be honest I think the PS design philiosphy is "why do something in 3 steps when 23 is better" - and too many people have fallen for this. I have tried Nik Silver Efex and it's faster and provides good control - with out the huge learning curve then the huge time wasting that doing it from scratch in PS involves. OK - I admit later versions of PS are better than they were as they now include some shortcuts of sorts but the Nik filters are superb and speed up post processing greatly with no loss of control.
     
  15. "I think the PS design philiosphy is "why do something in 3 steps when 23 is better" - and too many people have fallen for this"
    Peter, that's because it's supposed to be non-destructive. A lot of plug-ins, if not most, are just that. Shortcuts have their price.
     
  16. @Peter, i think general public philosophy is " theres is 15 way of doing thing in photoshop " but it should be follow by " but only 2-3 really need to be mastered, because they are quick, give constant result and they are really intuitive" and with the new bw tool, theres is really 1 good way that meet thats description (i have some preset for you Ton, being a long time user of channel mixer myself, i made the switch)
    If you take 23 step to do something thats because you have a lack of experience and knowledge OR that the shot really really needs it like photo montage, fashion retouching on multiple layers etc...if you need 23 step to do a bw conversion ready to be print..then you need a external plugin to get you out of your misery.
    My point when the OP ask if he should get it or not was simple; Not knowing him, i had to assume that like 99% of the time when people ask if they should get a plugin its because they are not knowledgable enough to do it, or they are taking too much time to create it, thats why i suggest to have a look at the bw tool, and then compare it with the plugin. Then the OP said that he knows how to do bw in Photoshop, but is real need is the automatic way of doing it that could save time, so i again assume that he is taking maybe too much time doing is method, and for him a plugin could be the answer BUT;
    The OP also said that what he need is a way of doing thing faster, and mainly also to create vignette on is images, vignette and setting he can simply apply to others images, so for him, i would as a experience photoshop user try to help him saying that he should then invest is time creating a action or multiple action, because the 1 or 2 hres he will invest will make him proud after, he will save money, and he would be able to twick it the way he want. I alsways ask myself before buying something like that this questions " how much to i worth per hours vs this 300$ plugin?" If you charge 30$/hre to a client for the retouching, and it take you 2-3 hours to create a BW per image..x 8 images, thats 24 x 30 = 720$ of your time that you can still bill to the client later anyway, but imagine if you could do all this job in 12hre instead, still billing the client the 24 hre of course? then the plugin price would be acceptable no questions ask. But is i can show you that in 2 hres you can create all kind of action that will still save you some time, and you would only spend 2 x 30$ (orth of your time to create it)..cost 60$ investment vs 300..why would you buy a plugin then?
    See my point about should i get a plugin or not?
    Heres a quick how to for bw creation that i use everyday..as a action. I will keep it short and sweet, because i have to go back to work after ; )
    STEP 01_ adjustment bw tool to create your bw style, using the different sloder to get the effect you want, you can then save them for future use as preset and save again a lot of time. I have create some for nature, lansdscape, portrait, architecture, all of those can be of course refine later, and of coruse i could use the lansdscape one over a portrait and see whats up with it..the point is i have multiple set alreayd done and ready for the action (by the way if you want them, get my email by clicking my name and i will send you teh link..for FREE ) By using the bw tool you could depending of your setting also play with the contrast of a scene.
    STEP 02_ adjustment layer curve to get the density / contrast you need to add more pop to the image, a simple curve without setting just click OK, set is blending mode to soft light and voila! nice contrast..then use the opacity slider to get it where you want. Or do it manually like normal and adjust the density / contrast at the same time. You can create a generic S curve and press OK, so if you run it as a action, this generic curve will be applied, and easy to refine.
    STEP 03_ add a layer fill with gray 50% set the blending mode to soft light, select a brush with the size you need to paint area of your image for the dodge & burn pro way. Set the opacity of the brush to 40% that will give you the option of multiple pass on the same area to create dimension on your dodge & burn..like in real life. Use the foreground white to dodge, and the foreground black to burn. This is the finition step so take all the time you want to get to where you want. No automatic plugin can do this for you, so even with SilverFX, you should still use this last step as part of your workflow.
    EXTRA01_ For the vignette, i will explain 1 way of doing it, simple. I use 2-3 method myself depending of what i want. Create a adjustment layer curve, no setting, press OK, set the blending mode to multiply, fill the white mask with black, use the linear gradient tool and discover the area you want the vignette to appear on. Adjust the layer opacity to suit your need.
    EXTRA02_ if you want some film grain simulation (i know nothing is like the real deal bla bla bla, but for most user who dont know film and dont want to know film, its the closest way of creating it other than scanning a real film and pasting this frame to there images) Anyway, zoom to 100% add a layer fill with gray 50% set the blending mode to soft light, go to noise enter the number you want for the effect you see on screen you like and use gaussian and monochromatic for the setting, i like 5 to get a ncie effect, but i also like 10-15 for a more drama look, then OK. Go to filter / blur / gaussian blur and add around .5 to the grain, it will give it a more organic look. Drop the opacity of this layer to around 80%. the reason why i put it as my last step is because it can also cover banding if you have gone too far with your bw tool setting (the blue area is really fragile, and sometime you can see banding there)
    Et voila! A 3 step bw conversion (+ 2 extra in need) that can be set as a action and run in no time on multiple file taht you have at any kind of sie and resolution. By the time i was writing this for you, my Photoshop was running a action for magazine CMYK preparation, 200 images 12x18 300ppi with a bit of final step sharpening, a bit of black pop to give it a extra edge..all that on the back of my internet window. i save time, i can write tutorial, i still can bill my client...and i still can read the other new PN post without getting late in my day.
    Before I buy it, are there any other similar tools I should be considering?​
    I think i just give you another good option. Even if Brad is saying "Patrick, I think everyone here is aware there is a basic B&W tool within CS3/4; and in addition, levels, curves and other adjustments are available. And that for years before that, there have been at least a dozen ways to get B&W within basic CS." maybe you didtn know what i just explain, and for that, thats is why i always assume that people can not always know everything, even if it seem totaly normal if they should. Not everyone is a experience user, and when you think everyone should know something..well a lot of people stay in the dark and still use old method.
     
  17. Heres a visual demonstration. For once, you will see one of my personal image (not a client one, for those who could ask if i cant also take picture not just retouched them) and the 3 step darkroom..OK 4 : )
    heres the color original taken with my Canon G9 in my Panama Family trip last November.
    00SeEW-113153784.jpg
     
  18. Heres the step 03, the paintaing layer..the Dodge & Burn one. (i skip Step 02 as you will see the final result right after)
    00SeEc-113154084.jpg
     
  19. And the final image in BW, uing Step 01-02-03 and the Extra Film Grain Simulation. I got this result in 3min approx, with the Dodge & Burn layer that take most of my time : )
    00SeEh-113155584.jpg
     
  20. And here's the layer window as a proof that my method work..at least for me : )
    00SeEm-113155684.jpg
     
  21. another one just for fun, i simply drag the same setting to this one, and turn OFF the D&B layer (as this layer can only be use with the file where it as been created.)
    00SeG2-113163684.jpg
     
  22. OK, last one i promise..i like odd number 2 shot seem not enough : )
    heres one using the same technique, from Cuba, 4 years ago, with my Olympus E20 (what a bad camera!..but she done the job at that time!)
    00SeGQ-113167584.jpg
     
  23. Paul, step 1-2-3 take sometime to set i agree, let say couple of minute for a experienced user, but when done..creating a action of all your 1-2-3 step is simple and on a press of a button the result take 2-3 second.. Take it as you create your own set of plugin without the fancy interface... The fact is, for a user who already know how, i dont see the point of spending $ on a plugin, when one could invest in a better lens, better printer etc... but to each there own way of spending money ; )
    The result you see on top have been create with my action set, so i can say that with no more than 20sec you have a pretty good result, then you dodge and burn to your desire. The point about why i show you this tutorial was to show people that you could get stunning result with 3 step..not 23. And maybe that could help you or the OP to realize that it is in fact pretty simple and save 300$ there, 200$ there..and in the end get better and faster..with more money in your pocket.
    the beauty of the digital darkroom for me is to be able to create what i want from my own experience, not with the push of a button that 200000 user can do effortelessly with the same result.

    As i said, i understand why people would want plugin, i personnaly prefer to use my own action and ditribute them for free ; )
    try it, you might like it!
     
  24. " "I think the PS design philiosphy is "why do something in 3 steps when 23 is better" - and too many people have fallen for this"
    Peter, that's because it's supposed to be non-destructive. A lot of plug-ins, if not most, are just that. Shortcuts have their price."
    The destructive / non destructive argument has never held much sway with me. I always have a RAW original and I always also save the original JPG that I developed from the RAW file. I then work on a separate saved file to make my further edits.
    When undertaking editing on a file, occasionally I will need to back out of an edit and re do it but its never ever proven to be much of an issue for me. Usually this does not occur when I am two or three edits further on so I just have to reverse the last edit. I can see that doing everything on a separate layer every time has its benefits (eg if you later decide to increase or decrease an effects power you can do this easily) but it still often seems to me that PS is almost deliberately and perversely obtuse in its manner of doing things - perhaps because its designed for highly trained pros its never seen the need to build in shortcuts and more efficient ways of doing things - a bit like the QWERTY keyboard. Other layouts are much more efficient but no one wants to try to retrain all of the typists in the world.
    A further example that springs to my mind can be found with Paint Shop Pro Photo X2 compared with PS as an example of how some software tries to make effects / filters easier to understand and more efficient use. The former has a background eraser for erasing layers in order to see the underlaying layer. Not sure of CS3/4 but in PS 6 (the most recent one I was using) from memory you have to know that you use a layer mask and then paint over it with a black brush. Fine for pros who know this, but hell for someone learning. Also in PSPP2 it has a color wheel based black and white conversion tool (as well as channel mixer et al) So making a BW conversion is simple and because almost all of its filters give you a real time view of your edits (on a large almost full screen viewer) you know what the results will look like befire you actually apply them - so the destructive / non destructive thing is almost a non event.
    PS is powerful and I acknowledge it is the benchmark for image editors. But it just seems to me that it's a better tool for graphic designers than for photographers whose needs in the main are more modest and who have workfloww issues - if you are converting and optimising 20 images in one sitting can you really afford spending the time that PS forces you to spend on every single image to get optimal results. Understand I use PS but I tend to reserve it for when I REALLY need its power.
     
  25. The former has a background eraser for erasing layers in order to see the underlaying layer. Not sure of CS3/4 but in PS 6 (the most recent one I was using) from memory you have to know that you use a layer mask and then paint over it with a black brush. Fine for pros who know this, but hell for someone learning. Also in PSPP2 it has a color wheel based black and white conversion tool (as well as channel mixer et al) So making a BW conversion is simple and because almost all of its filters give you a real time view of your edits (on a large almost full screen viewer) you know what the results will look like befire you actually apply them - so the destructive / non destructive thing is almost a non event.​
    CS4 got them both : )
    PS is powerful and I acknowledge it is the benchmark for image editors. But it just seems to me that it's a better tool for graphic designers than for photographers whose needs in the main are more modest and who have workfloww issues​
    Thats one of the main reason why a lot of photographer have simply switch to Lightroom..
     
  26. Ok, mni rant here, sorry..
    Why is it that so many people are convinced that everything a plugin can do, photoshop can do? It's simply not true. Plug-ins are NOT fancy actions, they are entirely different programs designed to do very specific things very well.. they just happen to launch from and cooperate with the photoshop interface. Yes, some plug-in developers do nothing more than a few actions and try to profit from it.. that's silly, and those plugins I'd never spend money on.. but many others do so much more.
    Photoshop focuses on doing everything, and it does a pretty amazing job of it really.. but high end plug-ins focus on one very specific thing, and often can do it much better than photoshop is capable of.
    In the SEP example, the grain simulation and the ability to control the darkest areas gives a truly staggering amount of flexability. Ansel Adams would be dancing a jig if he had that kind of control that easily.. The grain SEP uses is 'smart' meaning it adjusts itself to light and dark areas as needed, instead of applying blanket-style like photoshop tends to.. this to me is the biggest difference between doing it yourself in PS and using SEP. The structure commands also give an awesome amount of detail to shadow areas.. something that maybe you could do, but that it does very well.
    Yes, you should know how photoshop works.. you should know how black and white from color works.. but past that, I see no reason to spend any time using PS tools to do something you can do as well and often better, faster.. that's silly to me. The customers don't care at all how awesome you are at making black and white from color using 500 methods and working by hand, they only care about getting the best result, the fastest possible way.. for black and white, that's SEP.
    Kyle
     
  27. >>> Why is it that so many people are convinced that everything a plugin can do, photoshop can do?
    I think it's a combination of ignorance, not actually using the pluggin, and it's bragging/bluster and some kind of badge of honor thing, that if you're not using plain photoshop, you're not a real digital post-processing magician professional that people should look up to. Well then, if that's the case, if you're not using 10 year old Photoshop 3, you're just a hack. You can do everything with that after all; why do you need anything better?
    What some fail to see is the productivity boost. SEP and Convert to B&W Pro offer a live view environment that encourages experimentation that photoshop and presets just don't offer. You want to adjust the color filtration in CS3/4's B&W tool, it's a MODAL dialog that needs to be opened up and so basic - sheesh. It's basically the Channel Mixer with some of the complexity abstracted out. Where as in the above programs, filtration and many other options are available all the time in a live view, MODELESS environment. That benefit is huge having all those adjustments available simultaneously. Even Lightroom is much better in that everything is Modeless. And besides, relying on a canned set of color filtration presets in CS3/4's B&W tool is extremely limiting. The beauty of color filtration in B&W conversion is being able to accentuate or de-accentuate specific colors used in the conversion process - I could never rely on a preset - every image is different. Not, here's a preset for landscape, portrait, architecture, snakes, etc. SEP is a superior editing environment for B&W conversion with a great set of tools.
    Decent B&W can certainly be obtained with photoshop alone - I've done it for years. But some people are a little more picky and want to enjoy the benefits (productivity and options) a good pluggin offers. The OP is experienced and was looking for a pluggin to see if there was something similar to SEP, not a lecture about ps.
     
  28. "Thats one of the main reason why a lot of photographer have simply switch to Lightroom.."
    Patrick you are right but I find that LR is not sufficient for me so I have ended up using Paint Shop Pro Photo X2. Its more powerful than Elements and easier to use than full Photoshop. The program has improved out of sight in this version and is a very competent image editor with many of the features of full PS- Its still not quite in the same league but certainly is highly competitiive with Elements. In fact as I said I think its more powerful than the latter in some respects . By combining this with plugin filters (it supports pretty well all PSplugins) I have the choice of doing it myself or using the filters to do it for me. Probably 80% of the time the filters give me what I want (and I am fairly demaning) and the rest of the time I use the native program. I keep an older version of PS that I had previously for those very few times I really need it.
     
  29. if you're not using 10 year old Photoshop 3, you're just a hack. You can do everything with that after all; why do you need anything better?​
    Because it doestn have layer, smart sharpen and liquify : )
    The fact still remain; a plugin is good to save time when you dont ahve enough knowledge about a certain aspect in Photoshop. Its OK to use one to save time, and its OK to use one for the fast recipe..in the end its the result that matter. But its plain ignorance when people think that aplugin can do something Ps cant.
    Its not a matter of Im better because i dont use plugin, it more a Im money conscious so i should learn how to do it in Ps..as quickly and as good as a plugin. Its just a matter of vision and priority. Both school are good; I can do amazing bw in Ps, other can do it also with a plugin. film grain and tonal response are easy to do in both method when you know how. It doestn take more time when a experienced user do it in Ps directly, but it could save a lot amount of time when a not so experience user want the same result.
    The beauty of color filtration in B&W conversion is being able to accentuate or de-accentuate specific colors used in the conversion process​
    And this is exactly what BW tool bring to you...then you can save preset to speed up the workflow, that you will refine in need.
    Why is it that so many people are convinced that everything a plugin can do, photoshop can do? It's simply not true.​
    Because it is! I would like to knwo what cant you do with Ps alone vs using a plugin? other than the ease of use or the speed you got when you are not super experimented i mean?
    As i said, external plugin are really good for any kind of user, but they come at a price..and it easy to save money when you are willing to get better with the look alike *basic* tool. Some user want fast result like magic diet pill to losse weight, i like to understand the process of a tool and go to the gym to loose weight. Just 2 different vision, same result in the end.
     
  30. The point of Silver Efex is not just to convert to B&W, but to actually mimic the way film grain changes in different contrast/density areas. As well, Silver Efex mimics the spectral sensitivity curve of the films it includes in its database.
    While it is possible to do this in PS, if I asked someone to convert an existing color image into B&W to appear like a Ilford FP4 with N+1 processing, without measuring how the spectral response of the film is compared to the digital image (something Silver Efex does) than you cannot to the job in PS. As well, unless you know how the grain changes with pushing, pulling, and other processing methods, you again cannot do the conversion accurately.

    If you want realistic results that look more like a particular film…..unless you want to do a lot of testing….and I mean A LOT…..Silver Efex is the only way to go. It is good enough that I’ve replaced half of my 35mm workflow with this package and various DSLRs. And trust me…..I’m anal about film use. So if I think this gets close to film…..believe it!
     
  31. funny, because when people ask Can i make my digital image look more like film? the OP will get zillion of answer saying that if you want the look of film..shoot film!?
    I personnaly dont want to mimic any film (as i dont really care)..just get nice result in BW. But if Dave is anal about is film and like the way SilverFX does it, well that should be enough to get this plugin!(and im serious about my comment..no sarcasm for real) Hopefully you wont get lapidated because you said that you could get film like result ; )
     
  32. Agreed Patrick. I only use it if I want the image to look more B&W film like. B&W doesn't need to look like film to look good. Case in point is your Platine action. Does it look like film and conventional methods? Nope. But it sure looks good!
     
  33. Thanks Dave : )
     
  34. I found this about Nik SEP...just to finalize or summarize my point of view..for those who think you cant do it in Photoshop..
    From Keith Cooper, northlight image;
    "The important thing about the Nik plugin is that it allows you to compare and test lots of alternative versions quite quickly - you can experiment with an idea, without needing to produce lots of masked layers.
    Sure you could do a lot of this in Photoshop, but I like it for quickly sketching out alternative treatments of colour images "
    As i said Brad, for quick result and quick preview SEP is a really good choice, the final product will be excellent BUT as I and Keith also said..you CAN do it also in photoshop..could take more time, but as you can see, its not about a quality issue, its about a speed issue. Comment are not always a matter of ignorance from a PS user, it could also come form a plugin user who simply dont know better : )
    I download the demo a while ago to have a look at it, it look good. Just not sure i will put 300$ on it..but you never know : )
     
  35. >>> Comment are not always a matter of ignorance from a PS user, it could also come form a plugin user who simply dont know better : )
    No Patrick. Just about everyone here knows you can use ps to make good B&W. It has been that way for years, demonstrated countless times by dozens of people here. Using at least a dozen methods. The OP was looking for a pluggin. Not a lecture on how things can be done in ps. People already know that.
    Better tools exist to aid productivity. I'm happy for you, that, as you point out are a 14 year professional retoucher, are an ace at ps. Most people here aren't as great as you. And it is not $300, but $170. And if it lets other people do better work quicker, with better tools, then that's what counts.
    Perhaps rather than hijack what was going to be a good thread about SEP, and prove that you, like most others here, can do B&W conversions in ps with examples above, you could start your own thread: Plugins Suck, why it's better to use straight PS for everything.
     
  36. Guess I'm supposed to post a photo, or something. Here's a recent one...
    [​IMG]
     
  37. 1_ as you point out are a 14 year professional; its 15 years this year ; )
    2_Perhaps rather than hijack what was going to be a good thread about SEP; i did not highjack a thread, i have explain with example, given my time to create it, another way. Nothing stop anyone to bring this thread even further and make it a good thread about SEP...do you have any example of your own personal work using theis plugin? Since you seem really knowledgeable about many afcet of Ps, you must be a hell of a good digital user, your explanation always look full of confidence.
    3_Most people here aren't as great as you; thats what i have realize along the years heres, thats why i post example of my work and how to do it if that can help other user that start. That is also why i have writen a tutorial about the work of a digital assistant and photo retoucher in the digital learning section, tahts why i keep writing and answering post all day long when i work...because i care about other user, and want to give them other option.
    4_you could start your own thread: Plugins Suck, why it's better to use straight PS for everything ; Why would i do that? i dont believe that. Or my english is really bad or you are analphabet? I never said that plugin sucks..i said you can do in Ps what a plugin do, saving $ along the way, and in the end certainly get the same result..for a price. If you are willing to pay this price, why not?
    5_And it is not $300, but $170. And if it lets other people do better work quicker, with better tools, then that's what counts.; Agree with you..the 300$ ws a reference in canadian money..since my $CAN suck ; )
     
  38. Nice images (really) Im glad you post some for a change : )
     
  39. [​IMG]
    channel mixer & curves
     
  40. Time is money.. so if I can get a result 10x faster that is in many cases better than what PS did, I can sure save a heck of a lot more than the cost of the program.. so I see absolutely no reason to do it another way. Yes, I can do it other ways.. have since PS3 or so when I started using the program.. but I'm also smart enough to realize when there's simply a better way. (or at least faster, we can agree on that much I think)
    The problem with this thread of course, is that about half of what you've said in it, has come across as you being an arrogant jerk. Now I don't believe that to be accurate, but it's definitely how it reads.. and yes, I think your reaction to the original question was way out of line with what the thread was really about, and you ended up hijacking the thread whether you intended it or not.
    Kyle
     
  41. How is suggesting photoshop tools somebody might not be specifically aware of not answering the question? Personally, I like reading Patrick's posts. Seems like a cool guy- excellent studio photographer, goes out of his way to try to help people out- at least from my experience. I don't see how widening the discussion is hijacking anything. I'm sure there are plenty of good photographers not using a plug-in to do b&w conversion.
     
  42. perhaps, it just came across the wrong way I think..
    And as I said, of course there are other options.. we all know you can do black and white without plugins, and I'm sure we've all done it.. it's just faster, and in my opinion better in pretty much every way, with other methods.
    Kyle
     
  43. You boys at it again?
    I agree with Ray, and as for you Brad there is something else as well you might consider
    "I think it's a combination of ignorance, not actually using the pluggin, and it's bragging/bluster and some kind of badge of honor thing, that if you're not using plain photoshop, you're not a real digital post-processing magician professional that people should look up to"
    Brad, what you're forgetting is that there are other possible reasons as well. I've worked for many years on film and I've been trained well. Basis of that training was to get absolute control over and a deep understanding of every step of one's workflow. When I started to do digital, which is only a few years back, I did it all myself and it's something I completely underestimated. The mere fact of converting a photo into a good looking b&w proved anything but easy and now after four years and working in PS virtually every day I'm anything but a magician but at least I know what I'm doing without a plug-in doing it for me without me knowing what's going on. For that I've read countless books (still do) and worked with a lot of trial and error.
    Out of interest I've tried many plug-ins and while most, at least to some extent, do what they promise I find most of them lacking if not worse than useless. Silver Efex however does indeed do a good job but in my opinion you'll have more control in PS. Yes it speeds things up but frankly I can do it almost as fast in PS by now. As for the film presets well, let's just say it's a matter of taste in my opinion.
    I think it's a good thing that Patrick and others point out the possibilities and andvantages of doing it in PS yourself and get a sound working understanding of how to because, while the OP may not need it, many do. A lot of people on these sites are just looking for easy shortcuts. If one wants to get good at this one should invest the time to get a understanding of what one's doing and the fact of the matter is that most don't bother. So in my book that constitutes good advice.
     
  44. Ton, it's not that SEP or other pluggins introduce black-box functions that are mysterious or any different than doing things manually in photoshop. It's that they present a superior user interface in a modeless real-time live view environment. As I said above, that's huge. Input color filtration whether it's done in ps, or a pluggin, is still color filtration. Having that always available for adjustment along with other controls, as well as other editing tools makes a better and more productive environment. No where did I saw a pluggin provides better results, performs magic, etc.
    I'm not aware of any one here that doesn't know that ps does B&W conversion. It's a discussion that's been going on, outlined many different ways, for as long as I've been here. The point is, there are pluggins that provide a superior user interface and enhance productivity. If someone is looking for one, it does no good to say, but you can do everything in ps. People know that. Perhaps those that feel that's the best way should start a separate thread on doing B&W solely in ps, joining all the other threads on that subject. Personally, I'd like to learn about new tools and methods; which the thread was about.
    It's kind of like someone wanting to get a digital camera, and another says and goes on and on with, yeah, but you can do everything and more with a film camera - do it that way and save money. Or a framer/carpenter asking about the the fine points and features of nail guns; and someone says why not use a hammer and nails...
    [​IMG]
     
  45. >>> If one wants to get good at this one should invest the time to get a understanding of what one's doing and the fact of the matter is that most don't bother.
    Ton, I'm curious how you come to the conclusion most don't bother? Certainly hasn't been my observation here over many years - I give people a lot of credit... But since you believe that is a fact (assuming people don't bother and are indeed lazy), then on any subject that might come up, does that mean when anyone asks a question about a new tool/pluggin/idea, that the discussion needs to get dragged down to starting from the basics; just in case the person needs saving?
    [​IMG]
     
  46. FWIW, this and all the B&W I've posted is done in Lightroom. Still, when/if SEP becomes available for LR, I will definitely give it whirl. I like well-designed tools...

    [​IMG]
     
  47. Q_ Before I buy it , are there any other similar tools I should be considering ? I will be using it with PhotoShop. Thank you for your thoughts and experiences .
    A_ the free already included BW tools in CS4. But you have to get some knowledge, know how to work with level, curve, and create or simulate your film grain...basically if you want something done fast and easy no brainer style..i think you got the rigth package . If you want ot learn how to do it yourself, it take some time, but you will discover doing so that anything a external plugin can do you also can do it yourself. And if you create action out of it, well you got your own custom plugin : )
    Reading it again i think i perfectly meet the demand of the OP by providing another way of doing thing, telling him that for fast result SEP is a good package, and that if he want to learn other way, the bw tool + action could be also the answer. So where did i highjack this thread? Is it after Brad came along with the usual >
    Patrick, I think everyone here is aware there is a basic B&W tool within CS3/4; and in addition, levels, curves and other adjustments are available. And that for years before that, there have been at least a dozen ways to get B&W within basic CS.​
    I think so. I bite, and i want to explain my point with a tutorial that i still think could help other less experienced user that dont have the money to get SEP. Was i wrong? Wrong enough to be call a jerk?
    Saying that a plugin could do what photoshop cant is plain ignorance. Saying that a plugin can do the same as photoshop faster and easier or in a more intuitive way is true for most user. That i cant fight that.
    What did you bring as another option for the OP Brad and Kyle? nothing. One get on me because i present another option too basic for him, the other one use name because she cant prove her point with real argument saying that Why is it that so many people are convinced that everything a plugin can do, photoshop can do? It's simply not true. Dam even Brad seem to agree with me on that point! (other than speed and good looking panel).
    Time is money.. so if I can get a result 10x faster that is in many cases better than what PS did, I can sure save a heck of a lot more than the cost of the program.. so I see absolutely no reason to do it another way​
    And im fully agree with you, because when whe talk about time / money im doing it as a professional 50hres a week. And for the record PS does nothing the user dont do itself; if you dont like the result you get its mainly in part of your own not knowing how to do it..most of the time.
    I think your reaction to the original question was way out of line with what the thread was really about, and you ended up hijacking the thread whether you intended it or not.​
    Again, heres my FIRST answer...do you seriously think it look like coming from a arrogant jerk?
    the free already included BW tools in CS4. But you have to get some knowledge, know how to work with level, curve, and create or simulate your film grain... basically if you want something done fast and easy no brainer style..i think you got the rigth package. If you want ot learn how to do it yourself, it take some time, but you will discover doing so that anything a external plugin can do you also can do it yourself. And if you create action out of it, well you got your own custom plugin : )
    Sometime i think people dont read the top answer, they got in the middle of something they dont understand (a regular difference of opinion between me and Brad) and they take side without fully have read the whole problem.
    My mistake was to again, get in a stupid argument with Brad, that everytime i will say black he will say white, i will say film, he will say digital..i think whe only agree about being both Mac user.
    So mea culpa for this, and only this. For the rest i satnd to my point, i still have writen a tutorial with example that some people could see usefull, and i will stil do my best for the years to come to help other with my answers. The funny thing in the end is Brad fighting for SEP all allong, saying that But some people are a little more picky and want to enjoy the benefits (productivity and options) a good pluggin offers but in the end telling us that he use Ligthroom!
    im i missing something here? because the bw tool in cs4 is pretty similar to the bw option in Lr..without the good slick design.
     
  48. Brad, its good to see some images once in a while from you, they look good, and it show that you also know (like me) what you are talking about. Maybe whe should have a coffe togheter so i can kick youre b*** and then enjoy the beverage with a new friend ; )
     
  49. >>>> My mistake was to again, get in a stupid argument with Brad, that everytime i will say black he will say white, i will say film, he will say digital..i think whe only agree about being both Mac user.
    The OP was looking for pluggins. Maybe the mistake was not offering one similar to SEP, and then going on about how ps can be used for B&W conversion? Which everyone knows...
    >> Brad, its good to see some images once in a while from you, they look good, and it show that you also know (like me) what you are talking about.
    I've posted at least a thousand images to photonet threads. Seriously.
    >>> Maybe whe should have a coffe togheter so i can kick youre b*** and then enjoy the beverage with a new friend ; )
    How about a smoke, instead?
    [​IMG]
     
  50. See! even there i dont smoke! LOL
    Toronto next month, NY this fall..maybe i should finnaly go to SF, i never been there! i now have a reason.
    As for the other option; Alien skin exposure, On one Phototools, Dxo, Lightroom, Apperture, my photoshop action. This that redeem myself?
     
  51. >>> maybe i should finnaly go to SF, i never been there! i now have a reason.
    OK, come on down and I'll teach you how patriotic freedom-loving Americans do B&W conversion better! Using only keyboard commands. Tablets and mice are for wimps... :=)
     
  52. Some questions for my own edification for working with film scans.
    Michael: It really speeds up some workflow for me from scans, and I like the control it gives me.
    Dave: If you want realistic results that look more like a particular film…..unless you want to do a lot of testing….and I mean A LOT…..Silver Efex is the only way to go. It is good enough that I’ve replaced half of my 35mm workflow with this package and various DSLRs.​
    I have always thought about Silver Effects Pro and Alien Skin Exposure etc. as tools to use with digital camera images to make them simulate a film look. You guys seems to say you use it with scans of images that are film to begin with? Shouldn't the grain stucture and density variations already be there? Or, are you saying that you shoot with one type of film and want to make it look like another type of film?
    Michael: but my main goal is vignetting​
    Lightroom 2.x and the latest ACR do vignetting that is quite customizable. Unless I am completely misunderstanding the type of vignetting that you are talking about......
     
  53. You want to also look at Color Efex Pro. A lot of the effects in there could be applied to B&W shots pre or post conversion. Some effects you would use before conversion, like dynamic skin softener, billiance & warmth, skylight, Pro contrast, etc. these work on specific colors in the image or it may be best to apply while still a color image. Other effects like graduated neutral density, vignette, fog, classic soft focus, etc. could be done after. I only have CEP (for Capture NX 2) so I don't know all the interactions with SEP. Not sure if any othe Nik products may work for you like too Dfine, or Sharpener Pro.
     
  54. Brad, basically you're right they do the same thing, often though at a price (and I don't mean $$). As the point was discussed in general I think acquiring the necessary skills before taking shortcuts is better than the other way around.
    "Ton, I'm curious how you come to the conclusion most don't bother?"
    Easy, from seeing a lot of mediocre work from people who haven't got a clue. On the internet as much as more close by. Those that go to the trouble of understanding what they are doing and apply it accordingly more often than not produce work that stands out.
    Just for the record btw. I'm just another wimp who can't do without a tablet ;-)
    I may be more familiar with your work than Patrick although I didn't know you preferred a smoke
     
  55. Patrick, apologies for the problems.. I didn't intend to actually 'call you' anything, I was merely saying that to me, that's how some of the comments read. It's possible I'm projecting a bit, because I've had this same argument with a hundred people over the years, and most of them -are- arrogant jerks.. so I do a apologize if I took your words the wrong way. I still don't think 'use ps' was the answer the original poster was looking for, but that's fine.
    I still believe SEP does a superior job in the way it interprets colors, and the way it manages to find detail in extremely dark ares without blowing out the blacks. More importantly however, is what brad said.. the interface and ability to preview in real time. That's a -huge- thing to be able to do.
    In the interest of full disclosure here, I do beta test Nik plug-ins. I do not work for them, am not paid, and dislike several of them (I still don't understand why I'd use sharpener).. but SEP is one I've liked since the moment I saw it in march of last year. I've used it heavily ever since, and have never had any real problems getting incredible results quickly.
    The funny thing is, probably 60-70% of the things I do with SEP, are actually for color.. using a really good black and white layer as a luminosity layer, at a low opacity, really does some cool things. But when I do b/w it's always SEP
    Kyle
     
  56. >>> Easy, from seeing a lot of mediocre work from people who haven't got a clue. On the internet as much as more close by.
    I disagree and I've looked at a ton (hey that's pun, Ton) of it. I have seen a lot of B&W images that fail due to bad light. Either flat or too harsh. And those photos would look similarly bad remaining in color. I would never come to the conclusion someone else doesn't have a clue about B&W conversion based on that.
    Also, without seeing the original color image and knowing the intent of the photographer's conversion and own personal voice/aesthetic, it's pretty much impossible (especially with poor light) knowing whether the conversion was bad or good. For sure, none of mine represent reality in terms of what a nature photographer would seen and interpret. Similarly, just because you can pump up the contrast to get a dramatic effect doesn't necessarily make the conversion good. And the photos of others, above, I suspect are hardly accurate depictions of reality from good B&W conversion - after all, it's B&W.
    Here's an example. I snapped the photo below yesterday. Is it a "good" conversion? Some would say no because it's blocked up in the shadows and doesn't have a pleasing Ansel Adams range - and the rendition is far from "reality." Others will say yes it's cool, because of the dramatic contrast, fake vignetting, and spooky feeling. I could have made it more "real" by not intentionally blocking things up. Would that be a better B&W conversion? No matter whatever others think, though, it's exactly the look/aesthetic I was seeking (even seeing it when I pressed the shutter) and pretty much matches my style. No one else can judge if the conversion was good/bad/whatever, based on looking at that photo.
    [​IMG]
     
  57. Brad, it's exactly what I'm getting at. Your result, based on your description, is based on choice but to be able to make such a choice you first need knowledge and skill. Without that the result would merely be based on happenstance and it would be hard, if not impossible to repeat that. Therein lies the difference. And it's a big difference.
    .
     
  58. Patrick, please keep posting your answers and tutorials. Many of us that read these forums are NOT experienced PS users. So your assumption that not everyone does not already know how to optimally convert to BW using PS is correct.
    Many of us newbies learn a lot from your posts.
    Thanks!
     
  59. Wow, I've been away for a few days and there's a whole book written here. This is a great discussion.
    Ton: Love the dog and man in the van shot. It was one of those "wish I had taken that" kind of shots.
    "Time is money.. so if I can get a result 10x faster that is in many cases better than what PS did, I can sure save a heck of a lot more than the cost of the program.. so I see absolutely no reason to do it another way."
    I've been working with PhotoShop since Version 3, so I know how to do anything I want to do in Photoshop (though your screen shots and tutorials ought to be pinned on Pnet as a lesson, because I wouldn't have the time or patience to create it<g>), so really all I'm trying to do is speed up the creative process, and be able to easily apply it, with tweaks, to a series of images.
    I think I'm pretty good with PS, but my original question came from using the trial of SEP and realizing I could make adjustments in a fraction of the time it would take me to do layers in PS. And actually, my question comes from some limitations I see in SEP that could be done in PS, leaving me wondering if there wasn't a better tool that encompassed more than what SEP does.
    Thank you all so much for your thoughtful and educational posts. This thread is a gem in my opnion.
     
  60. yeah nice shot Ton. yours consistently good too Brad..
     
  61. Actually I'm having fun here. Good arguments while ruffling eachothers hair (is that the correct expression?) in a good natured way with a smoke every now and then
     
  62. >>> Brad, it's exactly what I'm getting at. Your result, based on your description, is based on choice but to be able to make such a choice you first need knowledge and skill.
    But still not addressing the point that I was making. About coming to the conclusion that most don't have a clue about B&W conversion; from simply examining on-line pictures. Without knowing what the original color image looked like, what someone's style/aesthetic is, etc.
    Thanks Ray. Yours too....
    [​IMG]
     
  63. "And actually, my question comes from some limitations I see in SEP that could be done in PS, leaving me wondering if there wasn't a better tool that encompassed more than what SEP does."
    So, what's missing? :)
    Black and white is such an amazingly broad description that I agree with Brad, it's impossible to judge a conversion based solely on a single image. It's the same as saying 'it's color'.. that could be a few billion different things. To me a good conversion is doing exactly what was intended, as fast as possible. SEP offers a lot of flexibility here, and for me, it does everything I need as well as I can see it being done, as fast as I need it.
    That said, let's just address the original question, something most of us have failed to do. No, there are no other packages out there that I've seen, which do everything SEP can do.
    Kyle
     
  64. More good pics guys. Brad, you seem to have found a great place to shoot. Ton, that last one also is nice and clear and to the point..
    The expression is "ruffle some feathers," but that's your other post. ;)
     
  65. And Ton, no we don't smoke in California. It's so yesterday.. ;)
     
  66. sorry, double post
     
  67. Well Ray, we're from the old world what would you expect? I guess the habit is ingrained.
    "But still not addressing the point that I was making"
    if the point you were making would be that it's impossible to deduce that from one single image than yes, you would be right, but then that wasn't adressed as such by you. (I missed Kyle's remark) As for the rest, here and on the net (well let's limit ourselves to PN) there is more than one photo to look at. For that I don't need a original colour photo.
    Why would we even bother with such extensive programms such as PS, or in your case LR, if we can get such great results by moving three sliders around? Hell, even Picasa give you a b&w conversion, as I understand it with just one click.
    Knowing that a programm has tools to create a b&w conversion is not the same as the ability to do it right, or are you going to tell me that, given a few exceptions, I needs specs because there are only great b&w conversions to be found here? If so than let us just disagree Brad because its not what I see.
    00SgGo-113825584.jpg
     
  68. Maybe it's passe but I like the Russell Brown convert to B&W. There's one slider and you can see the results full screen (unlike the old convert to B&W Pro for Windows). I also recommed gradient map and Lightroom's controls.
    I'm not sure why Brad keeps criticing Patrick- both offer useful info.
     
  69. Ah, good old Amsterdam eh? I envy you so; the place feels something like home, probably because of my strong Belgian & German ancestry. But back on topic, good black & white!
     
  70. Thanks Ray. I enjoy all the b&w here. While I live only two hours away from A'dam I hardly ever go there. Living in the South I can be in Belgium in fifteen and in Germany in only 10 minutes. Will soon go back to A'dam though. At the moment there's a large Avedon retrospective.
    00SgX2-113969684.jpg
     
  71. Don't post often but I think I can contribute here.
    I do ALL b&w conversions and have tried lots of actions.
    Although I've found many actions, some of which I use (go to atncentral and mess around there), my most reliable is using the Greg Gorman PS steps. I've created an action for it so it is literally a one-click operation. From there, it is HUGELY customizable and versatile. I added a levels layer as the last step.
    You will probably have to back of the opacity of the fill layer as it might darken a contrasty image by quite a bit.
    My use of it (and some actions) can be viewed at:
    www.pbase.com/bestremera/galleries
    Here's the Gorman technique. If you peruse his sight, you can see a guy that REALLY appreciates b&w.
    http://www.gormanphotography.com/bw_conversion.pdf
    Enjoy everybody,
    Bob
     
  72. Thanks to the last poster. Worth trying. I have no exerience yet withSilver Efex Pro but this is what I understand it is meant to do, as someone has already mentioned:
    "The point of Silver Efex is not just to convert to B&W, but to actually mimic the way film grain changes in different contrast/density areas. As well, Silver Efex mimics the spectral sensitivity curve of the films it includes in its database."
    Fair enough. Many of us have done and continue to do darkroom work from silver base films, as well as digital. Nice to know that a program allows mimicking film and perhaps photographic paper characteristics. My question, though, is: Lacking a full-blown CS3 or 4, will this software from Nik complement my PS Elements 6, or is it better to bite the bullet and get a CS3 or 4?
    Whatever, I guess it is well worth trying the software on its 15 or 30 day trial basis
     
  73. Yes Arthur, it's well worth trying the demo version. I recently used it with the original Photoshop CS. I don't know about it's use with Elements, but I don't think it will work. Best of luck.
     
  74. jtk

    jtk

    It's unfortunate when somebody's so protective of a product that he criticizes Patrick for suggesting an alternative...especially since the OT asked for alternatives.
     
  75. John,
    He asked for tools similar to Silver Efex. Manually doing adjustments in PS is not really the same thing. I pointed out earlier in a post that Silver Efex actually does a realistic job with grain and spectral response of film.....something that can't really be replicated in PS without a heck of a lot of testing.
    That's not to say you can't get great B&W in PS alone....but I understand the OP as wanting to get the B&W film type looks.
     
  76. I am not debating the relative merits of doing it all by hand in PS, but as far as plugins themselves go, I have tried almost all of the Nik filters via their trial offers and can say that they are all wonderful. I mainly use Paint Shop Pro Photo X2 for my everyday editing. (I was using an older version of PS Elements but when time came to update I found PPSP had a 30 day trial and a $50 rebate going.) I tried it, liked it and stuck with it as it had many more capabilities than Elements and.........hey, the cashback was nice too making it a can't miss value proposition.
    It even has a color wheel based GUI for converting to black and white. Does a pretty good job too and you get a real time preview of the effect you will end up with. But in my book it is still no match for Nik Silver Efex in the BW conversion stakes. I would love to buy it as the power and flexibility it offers is just great. The same goes for Viveza and Color Efex. Just superb what you can do with them. When I tried Silver Efex, truth is I did not much use the different presets for various film types. The default conversion was excellent on its own. You could still vary the color channel sensitivity and curves and you could tweak things like grain, vignetting and toning all from within the tool. I know of no other tool that does as much nor that does any of these as well.
     
  77. Try this free Alien skin Exposures 2 demo here.
    http://www.alienskin.com/downloads/getmail1.asp
     
  78. I like B&W effects in Lightroom, but Nik is definitely superior. See an example below
    [​IMG]
     
  79. M, in what your example show superiority? the fact that you use the *old plate* setting show nothing other than you use a predefine setting that give fast result.
    This subject have been explore, and talk on all is aspect. Thanks for sharing.
     
  80. Patrick: I agree with you and admit. "Superiority" of Nik in terms of convenince, other wise, more impressive work can be done with PS as I have seen in your site. However, it needs learning and patience and many of us who do photography occasionally just for fun or hobby do not have time and resources to make such commitment.
     
  81. M, then i agree with you (as i finnaly said so earlier) that for a normal person , NIK is in fact faster to get the result you want if you dont know how to do it or simply want a fast result in your workflow.
     
  82. It's not about being able to do B&W in ps - people know how to do that; it really is easy (despite some claiming otherwise) and has been done for years using a bunch of different methods in hundreds of threads here.
    It's about some pluggins having a superior user editing interface where tools and viewing options are available in a modeless live view editing window. Some people enjoy working with superior tools. Whether it's woodworking or image editing...
     
  83. question for Patrick Lavoie, As no question is a stupid question, please could you explain step 3 again, like in layer, new adjustment layer, black and white, etc,..... The thing is I can not get step 3 to work, nothing is happening with the brush. And many thanks for your explanations really really helpfull.
     
  84. Hi Douwe,
    sorry for the long delay of answer.. i was out of the studio for some days assisting photographer with there digital need...then on a retouching marathon ; )
    1_you create a empty layer fill with 50% gray.
    2_you change the blending mode of this layer from normal to softlight or overlay.
    3_using a brush with black as your foreground color, and dropping the opacity of this brush to around 20-30% you paint over the area that you want darker.
    4_3_using a brush with white as your foreground color, and dropping the opacity of this brush to around 20-30% you paint over the area that you want lighter.
     
  85. Great Patrick, thanks a lot, it works!. Really good the answers without any reservations, that way we all move to a higher plan! Thats what the internet was mend for. I am gonna make good use of what you taught me.
     

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