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Historical building in Colonial Williamsburg, VA. Nikon D800e; monochrome conversion with Nik Silver Efex Pro 2.
Historical building in Colonial Williamsburg, VA. Nikon D800e; monochrome conversion with Nik Silver Efex Pro 2.

Here’s another image from my recent trip to Colonial Williamsburg. On our first morning at the historical area, this house immediately caught the attention of our group. We probably spent 15-20 minutes photographing it. Because there were 12 of us there, wide shots weren’t feasible. Instead, I switched to my 70-200mm AFS G VRII Nikkor and went looking for tighter compositions.

I really loved the textures and shadows in this image, and while the color photo was nice, I really wanted the shadows and textures to be the dominant elements. I therefore chose to convert the image to monochrome. To do this, I used Silver Efex Pro 2, part of the Nik Collection (now part of Google).

Why Silver Efex Pro 2 is My Choice for Monochrome

There are lots of options for converting your images to monochrome, including on-board conversion in your RAW converter. While you can get reasonable results using those tools, a dedicated monochrome tool like Silver Efex Pro 2 offers some seriously better control options.

Why do I use Silver Efex Pro 2 instead of on-board monochrome tools? Let me list the ways:

1) Unique controls over tone and contrast, including soft contrast and dynamic brightness.

2) Structure effect for micro-contrast adjustments (brings out or reduces textures)

3) Selective adjustments based on the underlying color image. That’s right, you can quickly select something based on its color values even though it may have a grayscale value similar to something nearby.

4) Traditional monochrome effects like color filters, grain, and split-toning.

All in all, Silver Efex Pro 2 is simply the best product I’ve used for monochrome conversions for my fine-art digital images.

The Photographer’s Guide to Silver Efex Pro 2 will teach you everything that there is to know about this powerful plug-in for Photoshop, Lightroom & Aperture.

Want to save some money on editing software? Visit my Discount Page.

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