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Total "newb" question about software

Discussion in 'The Watering Hole' started by Jock Elliott, Jan 12, 2013.

  1. Jock Elliott

    Jock Elliott SC All-Pro

    Jan 3, 2012
    Troy, NY
    I'd like to do some work with high-contrast B&W images, but I don't have a clue about what software I need.

    I keep seeing "Silver efex" mentioned frequently, but I don't know where to buy it, whether it is a standalone product (I do I need to buy something else that it plugs into), and so forth.

    Right now, the only imaging processing software I have is the software that came with my G12 and FZ150.

    Cheers, Jock
     
  2. TraamisVOS

    TraamisVOS SC Hall of Famer

    Nov 29, 2010
    Melboune, Australia
    I think you need another program (like Lightroom, Aperture, or Photoshop) for it to work. I keep seeing people calling it a plugin and using it in conjunction with those other programs. I've never used it before though.

    You can download it to try out from their website:

    The World's Leading Black and White Software
     
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  3. grebeman

    grebeman Old Codgers Group

    Jul 13, 2010
    South Brent, south Devon (UK)
    Barrie
    Silver Efex is indeed a plug in and does not work independently of other photo editors. So for example if Photoshop is the host photo editor when you install Silver Efex you will find it under the filters menu. Having done your adjustments in Silver Efex when you save it it comes back into Photoshop as an adjustment layer. This means that you could return to Silver Efex and make further adjustments before eventually flattening your layered image. In Lightroom when you save the adjustments made in Silver Efex the adjusted image reappears in Lightroom for any further work to be carried out on it, but the adjustments made whilst in Silver Efex are embedded in the image and cannot be changed.

    I've found that Silver Efex can also be accessed from AfterShot Pro as an external editor (not listed as such in Silver Efex documentation) so it might also be possible to link it to other photo editors, but I have no experience of that.

    There are other ways to manipulate an image to make it black and white, the best being to make a channel mixer adjustment layer which, coupled with other adjustments such as hue/saturation, brightness/contrast and curves for example give you a great amount of control over the black and white image. If such facilities are available in any photo editor you possess then you could create black and white images without going to the further expense of Silver Efex.

    The making of digital black and white images is a process that has spawned many books on the subject, so I would suggest further research is required on your part to explore the subject in greater depth, any answers on this forum would only barely scratch the surface of the subject.

    Barrie
     
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  4. Hikari

    Hikari SC Veteran

    292
    Jan 5, 2013
    Maine, USA
    I just use Photoshop and Adobe Camera RAW. You really need to learn to process out of your RAW converter if you are going to do this. There is no real mystery to process B&W, or color for that matter. It is simply practicing and learning the skills.
     
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  5. grebeman

    grebeman Old Codgers Group

    Jul 13, 2010
    South Brent, south Devon (UK)
    Barrie
    I feel, that for the sake of completeness, I should point out that it is possible to open Silver Efex in a stand alone mode and then drag and drop an individual tiff or jpeg file into it and edit the image. Since the application is designed as a plug in there are no conventional dialog boxes such as file > open, file > save and the like, but there is a save dialog button enabling you to save your edits back to the original tiff or jpeg file. Since these are irreversible changes it might be advisable to work on a copy of your original tiff or jpeg file.

    Barrie
     
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  6. Armanius

    Armanius Bring Jack back!

    Jan 11, 2011
    Houston, Texas
    Jack
    Maybe someone can start a thread with a step by step guide to black and white conversions with samples and etc. :) Hint hint!
     
    • Like Like x 1
  7. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    Barrie,
    Thanks for mentioning the stand-alone option. I didn't know that was an option. I have Lightroom, but never use it. Maybe I'll try a demo of the Silver Efex.
     
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  8. grebeman

    grebeman Old Codgers Group

    Jul 13, 2010
    South Brent, south Devon (UK)
    Barrie
    Luke, it's a bit of a fiddle to get Silver Efex to open, in windows you need to navigate to C:\Program Files\Nik Software\Silver Efex Pro 2 (the application file). Do not click on it to open it, but from another window drag a tiff image to this application file which will then open with the tiff image active and ready for editing.

    Barrie
     
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  9. grebeman

    grebeman Old Codgers Group

    Jul 13, 2010
    South Brent, south Devon (UK)
    Barrie
    I've just engaged brain, the easier option is to create a shortcut on the desktop from the Silver Efex Pro 2 application file, then all that's required is to drag the tiff or jpeg file to that desktop shortcut, Silver Efex will open with the image and you can edit as necessary, but remember that clicking on the save button will overwrite your original file with no warning or option to reconsider, hence my suggestion of operating on a copy of your original.

    Barrie
     
    • Like Like x 1
  10. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    Thanks for the tips. Since I just saw that Silver Efex is $200, i'll continue to convert with what I have. I can do most anything with the tools I have....it just makes it easier, but for that kind of dough, I'll do the extra work. I actually enjoy image processing so it's no big deal.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  11. grebeman

    grebeman Old Codgers Group

    Jul 13, 2010
    South Brent, south Devon (UK)
    Barrie
    Luke, if you have a photo editor that has a channel mixer facility then that's probably the best way to start black and white conversion, though there are several ways over and above a straight desaturation, and as you rightly imply, considerably cheaper options as well.

    Barrie
     
    • Like Like x 1
  12. Crsnydertx

    Crsnydertx SC Top Veteran

    758
    Jan 21, 2011
    Houston, TX
    Chuck
    And Lightroom, which you already have, has a great set of tools plus the ability to add presets: paid, free, and home-brewed.
     
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  13. HeatherTheVet

    HeatherTheVet SC All-Pro

    Apr 23, 2011
    Scotland
    Heather
    I haven't used Silver Efex but I really like the look of them. Briar would be a good person to ask about it. I didn't want to shell out the money or download illegally. Any contrasty B/W stuff I play with is through Snapseed - cheap and cheerful, extremely easy to use, brilliant on ipad, or through my main software which is Aperture.
     
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  14. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Nic
    Good software is cheap compared to a new camera or lens. I wonder if my most significant photographic purchase last year wasn't the Olympus E-M5, Canon G1X, or Panasonic 25mm f1.4 lens, but was instead Lightroom 4 for doing raw conversions. One key difference is that the first three only started working for me from the day that I bought them, but software like LR4 (and the Nik plugins which I already had) can be used on every digital image you've ever taken.
     
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  15. grebeman

    grebeman Old Codgers Group

    Jul 13, 2010
    South Brent, south Devon (UK)
    Barrie
    Many of the great photographers (say Ansel Adams or Edward Weston) probably spent more time in their darkrooms manipulating their projected negatives to create the images we admire than they did out with their camera, which I think correlates rather nicely with Nic's thoughts about software. I saw a video clip the other day which showed the negative of the famous Adams shot "Moonrise over Hernandez" which required a great deal of manipulation to achieve the famous image.

    Barrie
     
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  16. Hikari

    Hikari SC Veteran

    292
    Jan 5, 2013
    Maine, USA
    The more things change, the more they remain the same. I remember folks buying really nice film cameras and lenses only to buy a cheap enlarger to print with or send the film out to the local drug store.

    Still, the greatest enlarger in the world is no good if you don't have the skills.
     
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  17. Gary

    Gary SC All-Pro

    Aug 19, 2012
    Southern California
    Gary Ayala
    Adams always moaned that he spent as much time in the darkroom as he did in the field. There is nothing that I can think of that plug-ins can give you over manipulating by hand in a basic post processing program, other than plug-in are easier and faster, but at a loss to the user of experience, skill development and originality/individual style.
     
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  18. Hikari

    Hikari SC Veteran

    292
    Jan 5, 2013
    Maine, USA
    The guy could just never get it right in the camera. He should have practiced more with his exposures. I hate that "I will get it right in the darkroom" mentality.

    ;)
     
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  19. Gary

    Gary SC All-Pro

    Aug 19, 2012
    Southern California
    Gary Ayala
    LOL!!!!!!!!!!! He wasn't an OOC JPEG guy.
     
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  20. Hikari

    Hikari SC Veteran

    292
    Jan 5, 2013
    Maine, USA
    No, he was just too cheap to send his film out to be developed.
     
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