Category Archives: Tips and Tricks

Capture NX 2 Split-Toning Effect

Pete the Dog, after a standard B&W Conversion in Capture NX 2
Pete after receiving his split-toning treatment.

I recently started playing around with color toning effects on black and white images in Capture NX 2. After my black & white workshop last week, one of the questions was how to create split-toning effects.

Split-toning is a traditional darkroom technique for black and white images where the paper is dyed one color, and the silver emulsion is toned a different color. The paper toning shows through in the image highlights, while the silver toning shows through in shadows and midtones.

I wondered if I could re-create this effect using just Nikon’s Capture NX 2 software. As it turns out, with prudent use of the Colorize filter and leveraging the “Darken” and “Lighten” blending modes in the Opacity Mixer, you can make your own custom split-toning effects. It’s not quite as straightforward as using Nik’s Silver Efex Pro, but it works and it’s done in a non-destructive editing environment.

Here’s a short training video that I posted to YouTube to bring you up to speed on this technique.

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Packing Tips for Photographers

Make sure you bring the right camera gear by following these packing tips.

Packing for a photo trip is never as easy as it seems. You either A) over-pack and make yourself miserable schlepping a 45-lb bag through airports, or B) forget some seemingly innocuous piece of kit that you wish you had.  Of course, there is also option C) you bring too much stuff and still forgot something important. Here are some packing tips that I still need to remind myself about from time to time, so I figured blogging it would help get me straight.

Continue reading Packing Tips for Photographers

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Video Tip: HDR Efex Pro Zoom Tool

Here’s a quick tip on improving your on-screen previews in HDR Efex Pro. Once I figured this out, my images came out a LOT better because I wasn’t over-adjusting them.

Bonus: Download my new HDR Efex Pro preset “Hyper-realistic Interiors.” This preset gives a nice clean look that is very natural and crisp when used on indoor images.

Learn more about mastering HDR Efex Pro.

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Choosing a RAW converter– My Karma ran over your Dogma

Which image is better? (Click to enlarge)

It seems like no matter what you do or where you go, you can never escape the incessant drone of “my product is better” posts out in cyberspace. Name a photo product, and you’ll find fanboys (and girls) trumpeting the merits of their particular choice in gear, software, whatever. We live in a world where product diversity and competition is fierce, but one thing is completely evident to me: when it comes to RAW processing software, you really can’t go wrong with most of the popular choices out there right now.

The one thing that has started to irk me, though, is the beating of drums from people who claim Product A is superior to Product B based on no provable fact. Case in point: Nikon’s Capture NX. In 2005, I compared all the major RAW converters from a Nikon user’s perspective as part of a multi-part segment for The Image Doctors podcast. At that time, we were able to discern clear rendering quality differences between Capture NX and Adobe Camera Raw (ACR). Ah, but times have changed.

Since 2005, ACR has evolved better demosaic algorithms, new features, and camera profile settings that give you results that are at least as good, in my opinion, as what you can do with Capture NX2. The same is true for Aperture, Capture One, and other RAW processors. While there is no doubt that Nikon’s engineers understand the NEF format best, the argument that CNX2 somehow produces a superior conversion to everything else has gotten pretty weak over time. When I look at NEFs I’ve converted with Capture NX2 using standard settings and compare them to ACR conversions with similar settings, I don’t see anything between the two resulting images that would indicate that one is somehow “superior” to the other. What I see are two slightly different images, but neither one is “better” or “worse” in terms of detail, artifacts, or other obvious quality issues.

So what does that mean for you, the photographer, who is trying to filter through all the chatter and pick a RAW processing tool? Remove the subjective component of “conversion quality” from the discussion and instead look at features and workflow. Continue reading Choosing a RAW converter– My Karma ran over your Dogma

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Video Workshop: Mastering HDR Efex Pro

Let me show you how to master HDR Efex Pro

I’m pleased to announce the immediate release of my newest training video, Mastering HDR Efex Pro.

This two-part, 111 minute training video is presented in crisp 720p HD format, and is viewable on any computer running QuickTime or Real Player.

Part 1: HDR Efex Pro Workflow and Interface

Here I’ll take you through every menu, button, and slider in HDR Efex Pro. I’ll show you how to launch the plug-in from Photoshop, Bridge, Lightroom, Aperture, and as a stand-alone application. You’ll also learn how to make complex selections quickly and easily with Control Points.

Part 2: Tone-mapping HDR Images

In Part 2, I will walk you through the artistic process to create the finest HDR images in a variety of styles, including natural, artistic, black and white, and single-image tone-mapping. You’ll see all the control settings and how I use Control Points to perform local adjustments.

Mastering HDR Efex Pro is available now from Luminescence of Nature Press. Bundle your purchase with The Photographer’s Guide to HDR Efex Pro and save $10 off the list price!

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