20090917_0001The Nik Software collection of plugins has recently come down in price from $499 to $149 after they were bought by Google. At that price I felt it was worth a punt, so I’m currently evaluating the set.

It makes cheating very very easy! The Color Efex package bundles a range of filters that apply creative effects to your photos. Most could also be achieved via Lightroom presets, although the Nik software has a sophisticated control point system to fine tune the results. I’m still getting my head around that, so to start with I just had a play.

20090917_0001-EditHere’s the result of adding a blue graduated filter to the photo above. Instant sunny day! OK, so it’s not at all subtle and the donor photo isn’t well suited to this effect – it’s obviously cloudy, and clouds aren’t blue! Even so, at a quick glance on a small image, it’s surprisingly effective.

The next version uses the fog filter to simulate a thick fog over the hills, and that one is far better suited to this image. It’s completely changed the atmosphere of the photo and made something a little more interesting out of a throwaway snap.

20090917_0001-Edit-2At this point landscape purists will be throwing their hands up in horror. Getting it right in camera is the rule, and with no more than neutral grad filters and maybe a polariser to assist. Photoshopping should be limited to what could be achieved in the darkroom – the equivalent of dodging and burning, albeit now easy to achieve in colour as well as black and white.

I’m not so sure I agree. For me it’s about the final result, no matter how it’s achieved. It might no longer be pure photography – photographic based digital art might be a better term – but I’m happy to use tools like this to create images from my photos.

Painters are not restricted to reality, and if I could paint I probably would. Since I can’t I’ll use photography as the raw material for images I want to create. Sometimes the effects will be subtle, sometimes over the top, but that doesn’t matter as long as I achieve what I had in mind.


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