I don’t think there is a better black & white conversion tool than Nik Silver Efex Pro. It offers both complete creative control as well as an easy to use intuitive interface. I love it, and use it often. Actually, I love it so much I even use it on color images. You can view the video below to see how I use it for enhancing color images. Nik Silver Efex Pro normally finds its place in my workflow between Adobe Camera Raw and Nik Sharpener 2.0. If needed, I will throw in some noise reduction before the image hits Silver Efex Pro. Once it does, here is what you can do. The folks at Nik have provided the readers of LightAsMagic.com the coupon code LIGHTASMAGIC to save 15% on any their products.
First thing I normally do is choose one of the suggested presets (or a custom one I have saved) to get things going. You can see the presets on the left hand side of of the screen. They are just starting points, and everything they do you can do by adjusting the sliders. There isn’t anything secret within the presets, they just change the sliders around the same way you and I would.
The next thing I will do is use the ‘U-Point’ technology available in all of the Nik tools to make some selective adjustments. No need for complicated Photoshop masks. All you need to do is drop a point on the image, decide how big/small the area of influence should be, then make your adjustments. You can adjust things like contrast, brightness, and even add texture with a cool adjustment called ‘Structure’.
After I have dialed in my selective adjustments, I will stylize the image a bit by applying some toning. You can apply various toning presets or make your own using the slider. Nik Silver Efex pro offers a full compliment of colored filters. Like other steps you can apply a preset filter, or fine tune your own. If you want to turn day to night, just apply the red filter and watch the sky turn back. Also, you can simulate various film types. If you miss your old Kodak T-Max 400, you can have it back!
Nik Silver Efex Pro even has its own Tone Curve control built in so you don’t have to leave the interface to do your global contrast adjustments. Pretty slick!
Finally, once your image is all dialed in you can apply a vignette or burn the edges. Note, you can burn each edge independently. Once you are done, you just click ‘Apply’ and it will save your adjustments as a new layer without impacting your original image.
Coupon Code: Use the coupon code LIGHTASMAGIC to save 15% of any of their products.
As promised, here is a quick movie featuring the use of Nik Silver Efex Pro to enhance a color image.
Here are some of my favorite images I have made using Nik Silver Efex Pro