Color Efex Pro 4 for Portraits

I used several filters in Color Efex Pro 4 to get this "glamour" shot of Otter.

Ok, so I’m not a glamour/fashion photographer. In fact, the only member of my household that even comes close to posing for me is our golden retriever, Otter. So when I play around with effects and gear, he tolerates me quite well.

We had some nice window light coming into the house this morning, and Otter was the only one willing to pose in it. So I played around with my Nikon 1 V1 and 50mm f/1.4 AFS G Nikkor using the FT1 adapter. That’s the equivalent of using a 135mm f/1.4 lens on a 35mm format camera… a nice portrait lens. This image was shot at 1/160s @f/2.5 to get the nice bokeh.

The as-shot image, before processing in Capture NX2

With the as-shot image, it’s clear that it needs a little WB adjustment to warm up the tones. After all, Otter is a “golden” retriever, not a pewter one. I took the NEF into Capture NX 2.3.1 and made some really minor tweaks to WB and contrast, and then I cropped the image to a 5×7 aspect ratio without resampling or resizing.

After RAW conversion, the cropped and adjusted image was sent to Photoshop for final treatment.

From there, a TIFF copy went to Photoshop CS 5 for the finishing work. My first step was to convert the background layer to a Smart Object. This allows me to apply filter effects non-destructively without having to start over from scratch. I activated Nik Software’s Color Efex Pro 4 for the finishing effects. Note that I deliberately processed the original image to be low-contrast and low-saturation, because I knew a-priori that I wanted to work on it with CEP4 later.

I started by using the Contrast Only filter in CEP4. I used it to adjust the baseline contrast with the Soft Contrast slider, and I also fine-tuned the global saturation. Next, I added the Sunlight filter, which adds brightness and a warm glow into the image. Rather than apply it globally, I used a Control Point to restrict the effect to Otter’s face. The result is that the viewer’s eye gets drawn into the face and away from the background elements. Lastly, I used a combination of Darken/Lighten Center and Vignette: Lens to darken the corners and edges of the image slightly, again drawing the viewer’s eye towards the center of the frame.

Maybe next time I’ll get a real model.

I used several filters in Color Efex Pro 4 to get this "glamour" shot of Otter.

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3 thoughts on “Color Efex Pro 4 for Portraits”

  1. a long-distance Hi from New Zealand, Jason!

    It’d be good if Nik produced v4 of their Color Efex for NX2 so we didn’t have to do this juggle into Photoshop. I thought Nikon had a financial stake in Nik?

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