Lightroom 3 and NIK Collection

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by bob_estremera, Sep 10, 2011.

  1. Looking to step up my post-processing/workflow game.
    I'm using PS CS3 now and Silver Efex Pro 2 for my b&w conversions (which is everything).
    Basic objective is to make my 450D images look great @ 16X24 and to see if I can get them up to 20X30 while maintaining 'natural' looking detail.
    I did some test prints at both sizes, with NO sharpening at all, and can see that 16X24 will easily make the grade and I think with selective and careful sharpening, the 20X30 should also be possible.
    You can see the type of stuff I do at
    I know it's time for LR3 and am wondering if the whole NIK collection will be a valuable addition or merely using different technological approaches to a similar end result.
    I've looked at some NIK tutorials and impressed with how the Upoint technology works and love it with SEP2.
    I love how I can use Upoint or color range with NIK to select, sky or details or whatever to add NR in smooth areas without smearing details and conversely select detail areas to sharpen without sharpening noise in smooth areas and also how I can use it to adjust color values that will translate well to the b&w conversion.
    But then I've also studied some reviews and tutorials and can see that LR3 offers what appears to be similarly effective ways of masking and filtering different areas of the photo to achieve what should be (?) results that may be indistinguishable from what NIK would yield in the areas I've mentioned.
    I don't want to spend $300 US to merely duplicate in NIK what LR3 will give me.
    I know a lot of you have and use both in your workflows so advise is most welcome here.
  2. better to learn how to use a mask and stay with photoshop... for those need. you save money ; )
  3. The NIK software is not a substitute for Lightroom and Lightroom doesn't do everything the NIK software does. I use some NIK software in LR and some in PS CS5 depending on what I'm trying to accomplish.
    I suggest starting with Lightroom and then, if you want the effects the NIK software gives you, spend the money to get it. There are really only a couple of filters I regularly use, but I use them so often that I would have a hard time without them. I can do everything with curves, but that takes a whole lot more time.
  4. Patrick, I see that, with the exception of 'skull teeth and clouds' we have a similar sensibility to b&w. All your stuff is PS only, correct? I have always had problems with masks because if I need them, it's to separate clouds and sky from intricate details. I can use the pen tool very well and make layers to adjust that way but masking has always been my nemesis and I've tried many tutorials and techniques. Can you direct me to some resources that you find to be effective?
  5. I just bought LR3 over SEP2 because I was able to get the LR at teacher's cost about a third of the Nik. I wanted to have the ability to adjust the tones with the color slider, something both do. I tried both on the free download first, and while SEP2 has structures, something that has a nice look, and some more presets and filter application, I didn't think those were worth the extra cost. Also, Lightroom has an easy flow to doing adjustments in color and RAW as well, features not available in SEP2. I guess it's all a matter of taste. You should try both with the free downloads and compare.
    One question I have, if you don't mind me highjacketing your thread a little. I notice that when I darken the skies by adjusting the blue color slider, whether with LR3 or SEP2, I get a halo along the edges to the sky. Is that something that can be eliminated?
  6. yes by using the gradient tool instead as the blue chanel will cause the problem u have + more noise
  7. Hey, get off my thread! : )
  8. Patrick,
    <<better to learn how to use a mask and stay with photoshop>>
    Have you tried the UPoint technology in NIK software? I was surprised to read your comment. I use Capture NX2 to process my RAW files and to do some post processing. One reason I stay with NX2 over PS is the ability to use Niks UPoint technology instead of trying to create mask in Photoshop.
    If you've used both, what would the advantage be of using Mask in PS compared to using the UPoint technology in Nik's software?
  9. Patrick Are you referring to the graduate tool in the upper right panel of LR3? If so, how do you deal with object going up into the sky like buildings? The shading will effect those objects as well as the sky.
  10. Alan hit on my issues with masking. The tops of many buildings have details like struts and other intricate details, much like the dead branches reaching into the sky in landscapes.
  11. Mac users should watch out; in some cases SEP 2 and HDR do not work on Macs. They work on my MacBook but not on my iMac. NIK engineers do not have a solution, except for completely erasing one's hard drive and reinstalling everything, a project for which I have no time.
  12. All the NIK products work flawlessly on my 27" I7 quad Imac.
  13. @Alan_ For me it have to be as natural as possible when i work on my images, a real gardient ND filter will of course touch building and tree.. so the gradient. You can also use the brush tool with the mask function and you can propably get by the building and trees.. and maybe it will still look ok.. but a darker sky for me need to have a gradient for a natural look.
    The problem by using too much of the BLUE channel alone is that you can get halo and most if not all the time noise. The halo can get lower by also using the AQUA / CYAN channel (could reduce the edge on the building / tree.. and the noise can get fixed by using the color / luminance slider noise reduction.. but the detail can suffer a bit too...
  14. If you've used both, what would the advantage be of using Mask in PS compared to using the UPoint technology in Nik's software?
    The advantage of using a mask over UPoint is i find the more latitude you have by changing brush size, density, opacity all on the same mask. I read that you have a learning curve to work with mask, correct BUT it is something that aynone that can read can do in no time ; )
    Nik make fabulous product that i have but rarely use because for me using Ps is as simple ... UPoint have nothing more to offer vs a good curve and a mask.. other than is simplicity to do the effect maybe.. but if you put a little effort to learn how to mask, you will discover that you also get a little more freedom to apply those effect.
  15. @Bob_sorry, didtn see your questions.. in short, i use a mask with a gradient tool and brush.. you rarely need a pen tool or else in that categorie to make a mask.. neither any selection tool.
    All you see on my images, that contain building, trees, people or not.. are all a simple gradient tool or a bursh or both to get where i want it to go .. its like in the old day when i was doing dodge and burn on my image while in the darkroom.. i wastn cutting a piece of paper to match a skyline.. i was using a black paper to create a gradient, from dark to light, from top to where i need it.
    When you start using selection tool, or the more complicated pen tool.. you are making your life too hard for nothing, and most of the time will get result that show your bad usage of the tool.
    If you can post a image that you have, i will be pleased to show you how to get it with those 2 simple tool.
    *the skull and teeth image in my portfolio is the old Treasure Island Skull that they remove from there building to call it Ti now.. more family oriented (as if people needed more information about that in a hotel that look like a pirate ship!?) If you look at that particular serie, a lot of the image have been taken in the old neon sign graveyard, call the boneyard ; )
    ** on many of my image where you see that the sky is obviously darker, it is a mix of the use of the BW tool to bring the blue channel as far as i can BEFORE getting into problem, then i can also use a curve with a mask with a brush to paint over the sky or use a gradient to add more drama.
    *** the best before post prod effect will be to use a polarizing filter so you can control more or less this dark sky.. like when you where using a red filter in BW to get the same effect with BW neg.
  16. It's me, the OP - for those of you who are good at masking, where would I find a good tutorial, book, etc on the subject. Keep in mind, I tried Eisman's book and also the (Kelby?) book on 'Channels' and never could 'get there'. Masking, especially the intricate stuff, is the thorn in my Photoshop side.
  17. Patrick, what technique did you use to separate the blue sky 'holes' amidst the clouds in your MEXICO001 image?
  18. is a mix of the use of the BW tool to bring the blue channel as far as i can BEFORE getting into problem, then i can also use a curve with a mask with a brush to paint over the sky or use a gradient to add more drama....
    nothing more. no pen tool, no selection... just the plain old blue channel + gradient tool on a mask (layer fill with black)

  19. heres a example of what i mean for you.... when i have time to create those little kind of tutorial i do it ; )
    On this image you will see the original image + the layer (turn off) so you see from what i start.
  20. the second image is to add a better sky.. i was in SF and it was raining a bit that day.. sky was grey BUT i always have sky shot that i take everywhere i go for this exact problem.
    So i add a image of a sky, and use a mask with a gradient tool to apply it where it belong
  21. have a look at the mask use to get the sky in position...
    Also, as you can see in the layer window, i have change the blending mode from NORMAL to MULTIPLY so it will be like kind of transparent even if it touch the top of the house...
  22. as you can see in the previous image, theres no pen tool or complexe selection involve ; )
    This is the final shot with some tweaking; a BW conversion, i add some noise to emulate film grain, and a bit of dodge and burn here and there to add more drama..
  23. oups.. the image
    and u can see the little mask use to get there...
  24. Of course, all of this can be done in Lr alone (except the adding sky)...and this is where you need Element or CS5..
  25. here the image with the added sky, save as TIF and bring in Lightroom to get a similar effect.. without the need to learn the mask.. by using a mix of BLUE channel, gradient and brush to add some love where i need it.
    * the image probably is not 100% identical, but you should get the idea of what can be possible in Lr vs with Photoshop in this particular example.
  26. Darn Patrick, you're good. Funny, I have an entire folder of just 'cloud' shots that I've taken for these kinds of applications. I'm going to give it a go using this thread as a tutorial. I'll make a new post when I've done it.
    Thanks, Bob

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