Photography, Tutorials

The Efex of Silver

Today’s post is not really a tutorial, but it will be tutorial like.  I thought I would show you what Silver Efex Pro 2 by Nik Software looks like and some of the possibilities that can be done with it.

First of all we need to select an image.  Another One Coming Into the CornerWe might start by doing one of the cycling images.

The image needs to be opened in Photoshop as Silver Efex Pro 2 is a plugin and you can get it for Photoshop or Lightroom.

sep1You can see there how to open up Silver Efex, go to Filters, then down to Nik Software, click on Silver Efex Pro 2.

sep2This is what it looks like in Silver Efex.  The image is changed to Black and White straight away.  I have highlighted in red, on the left, all the presets that come with Silver Efex.  There are many more, but you have to keep scrolling down to see them.

sep3I have selected High Key 1 for this, just to show you a different one.  It obviously isn’t any good for this image, so I will change it.

sep4I have decided to go with Low Key 1, which is one of my favourites.  Once the preset you want to use is chosen, then you can make more adjustments about what you want.  I have shown in red where you can make some global adjustments.  I have made a few adjustment.

sep5Another thing you can do is make Selective Adjustments, so select an area to make adjustments too.  To show this better I have darkened the entire image and I am going to attempt to lighten just one section.

sep5-1This is to show you what you see on the screen a little better.


You can see the area with the circle, that is the area Silver Efex will work in, you can make it smaller or larger, using the slider that extends from yellow dot, that you can see in the previous image.  A video tutorial would show it better.

sep7-1Under the yellow dot are the Brightness, Contrast and Structure.

sep7Hopefully you can see how I have lightened that middle rider so she stands out more than the others.

sep8On the right side there are more changes.  You can add a color filter, which doesn’t give the image any colour, but it will change the colours that were in the image.   Again, it is a matter of playing around and seeing what you get.  I haven’t change any for this image.

sep9One of the things people have loved about film is the different effects you could get from the different films.  Silver Efex allows you to have some of that again.  You can select a film type and the effect of that film will be given to your image.  I recommend you try them all and see what you think.  If you want to go back then merely select none.

sep10You can change the Levels and Curves.  To demonstrate I made it darker, then changed it back, I was fine with how the image was.

sep11Now we can start looking at some of the Finishing Adjustments.

sep12You can add a tone, where that yellow part in the side bar is, if you click on there.  There are a number of tones to choose from.  You can decide on how strong you want it, and if you decide you don’t want it, then just click off.  I did that.  I don’t really want the image toned.

sep13You can add vignetting, choose which type, black or white.  The you can decide the Amount, Circle and Size.  Again, if you choose you don’t want, then simply select off and it goes away.

sep14There is a selection of borders that you can add.  Again, you make decisions abut the size, spread, and clean.  It is good to play.  With all the drop down menus you only have to hover over them and you will be given a preview of the selection.  I decided on off for Border.

That was pretty much all the selections I did.

sep15Once OK is pressed then the image is opened up in Photoshop.  It is saved, resized and ready for you to look at.

Another One Coming into the Corner - B&WThe final image.  I don’t know about a black and white version of this.  I have never been that enthralled with cycling photos done in black and white.  One of the wonderful things about the sport are the colours that they wear.  It is so colourful, so it always seems a shame to take the colour out of it.

I hope those of you considering Silver Efex have enjoyed this tutorial.  I will be doing a video tutorial of this later today, so if you are interested then keep an eye on this page, Video Tutorials.


  1. hutchphotography2020 says

    I would like to eventually get this software. Wonderful tutorial. Thanks, Leanne.

  2. I downloaded the trial version and tried it out a couple of years ago. Although I really liked it, especially its local adjustment feature, I didn’t end up buying it. I do most of my B&W conversions in Lightroom, and find it to be quite good for what I do.

  3. That was an interesting tutorial even if I never use it. It’s way over my capabilities right now. I really liked the circle of light around the center person. Very cool stuff. :)

  4. The b&w conversions are fabulous they add power = to the energy these cyclists are putting into their race.

  5. Very interesting. I have Silver Efex and was interested in getting the second version. I might just have to pick it up now.

  6. Love it! I have been a fan of Nik for awhile and use this software just about every time I want to convert my images to black & white.

  7. Very timely as I have been playing with black and white recently and this looks like a flexible system! ( not that I know enough to compare it with anything much, but it’s nice to get a quick runthrough) .Thanks!

  8. Still thinking about getting this ….. but my PC is also on it’s last legs and I’m considering a move to MAC ….. decisions, decisions!

  9. Thanks for the tutorial and thanks for the honest reflections you provided earlier about photography as a business (the move to charge for video tutorials and booklets, for example) versus the free access that has carried Leanne Cole Photography to this point. You are at a critical junction, you have all of my support, and I wish you the best of luck … I know you can do it. You’ve got talent, ambition, and a number of very dedicated followers. Now, as the Nike slogan says, Just Do It! The first sign that you were drifting away was the request for a password when I clicked the tutorial link this morning … this is indeed the beginning of the end … but that’s a good thing (sniff, sniff), we all evolve and change is good. Thanks … D.

  10. you make it seem so easy Leanne…I found GIMP to be challenging…right now I’m using PhotoScape …simple to use for someone who is beginning and doesn’t really know what they should be doing! Silver Efex would be something I could get into after a couple of years of practice!

  11. really cool. I have been a big Lightroom fan, but always looking for new photo editing software… let’s just say now i’m intrigued!!!

  12. I have nikfx HDR & Colour, and was considering the B&W which looks fab, have held off though as I also have Topaz and that has a great B&W processing programme, the thing I like about Topaz is it has really sensitive brushes for making adjustments to areas rather than the little spots with sliders, and I do like brushes, but nikfx stuff is fab and you’ve done a grand job, fab semi-tutorial!

  13. This is on my software list for 2013. LR4 still does not cut the bill for B&W edits. Good tutorial.

  14. Nice transformation from color to B&W. I agree that it should be left in color. Sports unis and outfits have become quite colorful. If everything was still “tennis white”, perhaps B&W would work.

  15. thanks for posting this! it really seems like this software is becoming (or has become) the standard for black and white conversions. very nice work!

  16. WOW ! You’re technical know-how just blows me away. I really really need to learn this stuff. This is a wonderful post and so easy to follow. Thanks Leanne.

  17. Fantastic of you to share your knowledge with us – you give us your time too. Don’t use any of the programs, but I know so many are – what an amazing tool you’re for them.

  18. petit4chocolatier says

    I love the changes in each frame. You are amazing :)
    I actually really like the B & W !!

  19. Pingback: Experimenting with Nik Silver Efex | Learning to See Light

      • lensaddiction says

        Thanks I really wish I could sit you down next to me for a couple of hours tho :)

  20. Oh my goodness that’s crazy! You’re so amazing, I don’t know if I have enough patience for all that, I hope I do someday though haha! That’s so cool :D

  21. Very exciting and well-done, for not really being a tutorial (tongue stuck in cheek here, Leanne!)…and Silvr Efex certainly seems to be a logical piece of software, unlike some I’ve used in the past.

    Though your final image IS well-done, I have to agree that, for cycling, the B/W does take away a bit of the ‘intensity’ which is the major point in cycling…I think ?

  22. I love your bike racing photos. This one works very well in black in white with the shadow border emphasizing the line of the riders. Good luck to Cadel in the Giro

    • Thank you Pat, I got some good shots at that event, haven’t been doing much since. Go Cadel.

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