Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘Silver Efex Pro 2’

Landscaping with a Class

Yesterday I taught my second class for the year at Living & Learning Nillumbik.  The class was full and they were all there for landscape photography.  I haven’t been sure about this teaching thing, but I decided with yesterday’s class that I was just going to wing it.  Writing out a plan and that sort of thing just wasn’t working for me, so yesterday I just talked to them and told them what I know.  I thought it went well, and I hope they did as well.  I actually really enjoyed the class and found the time went so quickly, unlike other classes I have taught.

I don’t know if I am  meant to be taking photos while out with them, but I did take a few.  I am hoping that if some of them find my blog, they might like to see what I have done with the images that I took.

Side Gates from the LeftThe Eltham centre where I teach is close to some parkland  so we went into it so they could practice their landscape photography.  These gates were beside one of the paths.  They are quite old and have been here for quite some time.  Such an ornate find in such green surroundings.  I had to get the camera out and take a few shots.  It is hard, I just wanted to be taking photos as well, but that isn’t why I was there.

They look lovely here with the green behind the gates, almost looks Eden like, but I wondered, you know, if I played with it a little.

Side Gates from the Left - Black and WhiteI think the whole mood of the image has changed here.  Though, I have lost some of the work and detail in the gates.  I processed this with Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro 2.  It seems like ages since I used it.  I discovered a few new things, that is always good.

With all the images today, they have been given very little processing, other than a quick trip through camera raw and then onto Silver Efex.

Side Gates from the RightThese are the same gates, but taken from the other side.  It makes a big difference.  With that path behind the gates and the break in the trees makes the gates stand out so much more.  Closed gates always gives a feeling of being shut out, like you are being left out.

Side Gates from the Right - Black and WhiteThe processing with Silver Efex has given it that spooky feeling, I think.  I like the way it has given it a creepiness that the bright green leaves of the colour one just can’t give you.

Gate DetailA close up of the locks on the gate.  I am afraid this is not really in focus, I took it very quickly with my new lens, and I think I got too close.  Still, you get an idea of how it looked.  I do like all the colour of the rust on it and I added more saturation to those parts to bring it out more.

Gate Detail - Black and WhiteI have added some sepia to this, and I like the feeling it conveys.  I think this image is probably my favourite out of all of them.  I used Silver Efex to draw out a lot of detail in the image.  There is something very heavy and creepy about this locked gate.

Black and White Work BenchYou don’t get to see the colour version of this, I didn’t like it.  Too many odd colours everywhere and the black and white representation works so much better.  Sometimes, often really, black and white just works.  When it is black and white you focus on the shapes and textures.  I also like the way this version makes the home behind it almost disappear, it stood out too much before.

These were all taken in an area that I know I am going to have to go back and visit again, but when I am not teaching a class and can just take my time.  It is quite an interesting place.

The people in the class took some great photos and I hope they were pleased with their efforts.  At the end of the class I used my new Google Nexus 10 tablet to look at their photos and too critique them for them.  I don’t like doing that too much, but I know it has to be done and they seem to appreciate it as well.

Next class is next month, so that will be great.  Think I will follow the same plan as this one, have no plan.  Just talk about what I do and what I know.

Ashes to Ashes, Dust . . .

Yesterday, in the heat of the late afternoon, I went to visit the Heidelberg Cemetery.  It is quite an old cemetery and some information I found on the internet says that the first recorded burial was in 1858.  It does go on to say that they believe the first burial was around 1853.  I saw some very old graves, but the oldest I found was 1859.

It is a strange cemetery.  The old is mixed in with the new.  There isn’t an old section and a new section.  I don’t know how it has been worked out.  Wherever you go it is all sorts of different graves.

Long Time Residents

It was strange also, that some very old graves had brand new headstones.  I am not a fan of the new ones.  I love how the really old ones look.  I wish you could still always read them, but I suppose if no one is around to look after them then they will deteriorate.

Blooming Forever

This is in the first line we walked down.  I loved the china flowers on the grave.  It appears that no one has tended the site for some time, but the lovely china wreath will always be in bloom and will always add colour to the spot.

The Old Remodeled

This is one of those ones that has people who died a long time ago, but the headstone is fairly new.  It must have been done by the family.  One of things with this image is the view behind it, you see how high up on the hill it actually is.

Plot 22This plot, marked only with a steel peg and the number 22.  No clue as to who is buried here, just the peg.  It is sad that someone has died and the only thing to represent them is the steel peg with 22 on it.

Walking around the cemetery is a humbling experience.  We know how life was for the pioneers of Australia.  It was hard, it was hot.  We read about their lives and their struggles, but there is nothing like actually seeing their graves and what is written on them.  It brings reality.  The young age they died, how many children are buried there.  We think about how sad it is for us when children died, yet back then, it was almost common.  I find it so gut wrenching when you see the graves with four or five children who all died before they were 12 months old.  

HIgh on a Hill

Heidelberg Cemetery sits on hill, the same hill that the Austin Hospital sits on.  Handy having a cemetery next to a hospital for the incurables.  Though, one thing that surprised me about the place is the way the people were buried.  I always thought graves were place East to West,  is it, feet facing east so the person who see the sun coming up, or is the other way around?  At this one, they face South.  I wonder if it is has something to do with the hill.  It is quite a steep one.

It is a strange thing to do, but not a mad thing, to go and look around a cemetery.   I know Melbourne Cemetery in Carlton/Parkville is huge and has so much history there.  It also offers night tours, that would be fun.

The images have all been processed with Camera Raw and then put through Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro 2.  I have used different presets and tried different things on each one, so they would all be different.

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.

Death in the Summer

Death of the Bird

It had been my plan to do a tutorial today, but I was having a hard time working out what I was going to do, and time is short today.  I have to do a few things.  I went out this morning, and I was going to buy some flowers and photograph them, but nothing caught my eye.  Then as I was coming back into my drive, I saw the Bird of Paradise plant and noticed that all the flowers on it were all dead.  They are all drying up, so I thought I might do those.

You can see the one up there.  I still love how they look after they have died.  When you look at them closely there seems to be so much more detail and so much more to them than there is when they first open.  I should try photographing them one day when they have just opened.

The flower takes on another meaning with the black backdrop and I can’t help thinking that it reminds me of something in the deep depths of the sea that you get to see when someone sends something down to photograph them.

Death of the Bird - Color EfexThis has been processed in Color Efex and was put into it twice so I could use two different presets.  I like the softness of it and the colours.  The sepia tones have given it another feeling from the first.

Death of a Bird - Silver EfexSilver Efex was used to give it black and white tonings.  I changed the structure quite a bit and tried to make it less harsh.

I have picked some others and had planned on photographing them all, but with all the hot weather we have been having I have had to pull down the awning on the outside of the house and the house has become quite dark.  I might have to wait to do some still lifes like these once the summer has passed.  The Australian light in summer can be so harsh, so it is best to be careful with photography at this time of the year.


I have been thinking of starting a newsletter for people to subscribe to, there will be a small subscription fee for it.  It will start fairly soon.  I just need to iron out some details, the newsletter will have more information, more tutorials and hopefully people who want to learn about photography will get a lot more out of them.  I hope some of you will consider subscribing to it.

Teacup Ballet ReWorked

I haven’t done a rework for awhile, so I decided that it might be time to start getting back to normal and doing the posts as I used to.  I have thought about this image a lot, and one day I will redo the whole image, that means photographing it as well.  I always wished I had ironed the cloth the cups were on.

Teacup Ballet - OriginalThis is the original I did way back when, I should find the original post, I do remember the image was based on an Olive Cotton image.  You can see the Olive Cotton image in this post Teacups Following the Ballet, and  you can see the original post for the above image in this post Lighting the Ballet.

There wasn’t a lot wrong with this image, but I did wonder if I did it again, would I do it differently.

Teacup Ballet - ReworkedI think the answer is yes.  The new version is darker, though I think the cups stand out more.  I did some blurring and tried to make the highlights stand out more. I just find the wrinkled cloth a little distracting.

Both images began as HDR images that were processed in Photomatix Pro.  The Reworked image was then processed in Camera raw and a lot further processing was done in PS.  I did some further processing.

The Ballet in Silver EfexI used Silver Efex for this image.  It seems ages since I processed images with it.  It was nice to take another look at it.

Ballet with Color EfexThis one saw the Classic Soft Focus being done to it in Color Efex.  I have also missed using it.  I must get back into using the Nik Software products.  It will be nice to start experimenting again.

I love using the new 27 inch monitor to do my processing now.  I still can’t get the higher resolution, apparently a problem with my laptop, but we have ordered a new cable which might allow it.  It will be good to have it.

I am now off to do some more research for the Virtual Photography Field Trip that a client has purchased.  Off to find out about a place in the world I didn’t know about before.  Almost as good as travelling.  Almost.

Just a quick note, if you would like to find out if the notes I have written about learning your DSLR are helpful, please check out the testimonial  here.

ReWorking the Great Hall

The Long Tables - OriginalThis image was first done May on a trip to Montsalvat at an Artist Retreat in Eltham, not far from me.  This is the Great Hall.  This image isn’t bad, but I was never really happy with the greyness in the window.  I do like the setting and thought I would use it today to redo.

The Long Tables - ReworkedThe view out the window is certainly much better in this.  I did reprocess the HDR in Photomatix Pro. I have gotten very used to how that software works and what I can do with it.  I then did some processing with Topaz Adjust 5, really just added some detail, which has made the image more textural. Well, I think it has.  This image was a lot more saturated so I desaturated it a bit.  The image was darkened and the table and floor were lightened so your eye would be drawn to the window and outside.

There are aspects of both that I like.  The first one shows more of the room, whereas the second one has more atmosphere.  One is an architectural shot and the other more an art image.

I also had to attempt doing it in Silver Efex.

The Long Tables - Silver Efex Pro 2This is probably the best of the first two.  There are lots of textures, but you also see the room.

As I said yesterday, I went into the city.  I went in to photograph the Manchester Unity Building.  It wasn’t great as the weather was horrible, which meant that I couldn’t really photograph the tower.  I did get some images and I will play with them, but I will have to go back another time.  We were thinking the morning would be better.  I will start putting up some photos on Sunday.

A Touch of Christmas

So many of you are putting up images of Christmas and I thought I would do the same today.  I didn’t really get many Christmas images, only one really.  The weather was so bad, I just wanted to come home.

Tiffany WindowI remember my friend 1000 had a window from Tiffany’s and when I was walking near Tiffany’s in the city, I had to look at the window.  I got my camera out and took a couple of photos, then it started raining again, so I had to get a move on.

A touch of Christmas in Melbourne.  I hope you like it.  We finally put up our tree today.  It is big and it is the first time we have had the big tree up for years.  I forgot about all the beautiful decorations we got the Christmas we spent in Denmark.  It is lovely to see them out again.  I will, of course, take photos of them for you.

ReWorking Scraggy and Craggy

For those that have been following me for a while might remember this tree.

Scraggy, Craggy Tree I took this image on a trip to Daylesford with my daughter.  I first saw it when we were going, and on the way back I stopped to take photos of it.  The image was first posted in June.  I also had a couple of goes workings with it.  The image was a HDR that was processed in Photomatix, and turned into black and white in Photoshop.

Since getting Silver Efex Pro 2 from Nik Software I have been playing with it quite a bit, and I thought today it might be fun to try some images, or one anyway, that I had done in black and white previously and do it using Silver Efex.

First of all I had to redo the HDR, so this time I used HDR Efex to do the HDR conversion.

Scraggy, Craggy Tree - HDRThis is the image straight from HDR Efex, I didn’t do any other processing to it.  I am quite happy with this.  I have tried some other images and got the horrible halo, but it isn’t here, and even the areas around the branches have been processed well, something that Photomatix can struggle with.

Scraggy, Craggy Tree - Silver Efex 1This was the first attempt in Silver Efex.  I did use the Add Control Point tool to give more detail around the tree trunk, but I quite liked what the preset did to the sky.  I used Low Key for this, it is becoming one of my favourites.  Once it was back in Photoshop I used the gradient tool to do some vignetting.

I like the darkness and the scariness of this one.  I went back past this tree when my daughter and I were coming back from the Daylesford Market, and I stopped to take some photos, but it didn’t look as good any more  it had leaves on it.  It was beautiful, but it didn’t have that scariness about it any more

Scraggy, Craggy Tree - Silver Efex 2This attempt was done using the preset High Structure, and a little Add Control on the trunk as well.  I also used the gradient tool, but not as heavily on this one.

I do like the Silver Efex ones more.  Though, if you didn’t have Silver Efex you could probably do a lot of this stuff in another editing program.  I think Topaz Adjust would help a lot too, you can get some detail in that.

While I was looking for this image I found a lot of photos that I could rework, I couldn’t believe that I had once thought they were so good, makes you question lots.

Disappointment and Nikon

The D5100 is being picked up today, sometime.  It was nice having a go at it.  I also found out today that Nikon is not going to sponsor me, not for anything.  I am so disappointed, but then again, most of my dealings with Nikon have been disappointing.  They are terrible at responding to emails, and you are often left in the dark with no idea what is going on.  The first email I sent them, actually the first two, got no response until I told them that Canon were lending me cameras.

I did ask about sponsorship, and I will admit I thought there would be more discussion than simply getting a no.  I thought they would want to know more information about the blog and what my plans were for it.  I don’t think they even looked at me or my blog seriously.

When I got the email, my first thought was “I knew it”, then I got really angry and disappointed.  They sponsor some crap things, and things that can’t possibly help them, so why not me.  They sent me some crap merchandise the other day, and I will admit that all I wanted to do was throw it in the bin.  Here is a brand that I have been using and talking about for over 15 years, and this is how I get treated by them.

I even started considering how I could sell the gear I have and jump ship to Canon, which at this point I would really consider, except that I can’t afford it.  So, from now on, when people ask me what brand of camera they should buy, they will get an honest answer and consideration will be given to other brands as well.  I will have to start doing research.  I am no longer a Nikon girl, and Nikon no longer deserve my loyalty.  In my book loyalty works both ways.

Disappointment is a terrible thing.  Would I buy a D800 now, no, my research into the camera has led me to believe it would probably be a disappointment.  I would probably be better off staying with what I have right now.