Category Archives: Tips and Tricks

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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Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow

Custer State Park, SD. 5-shot HDR processed in HDR Efex Pro and Capture NX 2 (Click to enlarge).

Periodically, I like to go through my old images and re-process them; it’s one of the great benefits of shooting in RAW. Being able to work with my old images in new software really opens up some options that I didn’t even consider at the time I made the shot. I captured this image in 2005 while on a photo safari in South Dakota. At the time, I was shooting a new Nikon D2x camera and I had just gotten my 17-55mm f/2.8 AFS DX zoom Nikkor lens. I also had just upgraded to Photoshop CS2, which had a new feature: “Merge to HDR.” I thought HDR could be a cool thing to learn, so I shot a lot of bracketed exposure sequences during this 5-day trip. Many of them were uninspiring. Others, I found difficult if not impossible to process, and so I just processed the best exposure in the sequence with traditional techniques (that’s the nice thing about bracketing– you’ll always have at least one “normal” exposure).

The one thing I didn’t do, however, was delete the other exposures from the bracketed sequence. They’ve just been sitting on one of my 1TB hard drives, waiting for me to give them a second chance. Fast forward to 2011, and now HDR tools have progressed to the point where you can get great results quickly and easily. So, yesterday I went back and re-processed the HDR sequence in HDR Efex Pro and Capture NX 2, and I was quite pleased! Here’s what was in the new technology that I couldn’t get in 2005. Continue reading Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow

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Black & White: Silver Efex Pro vs. Capture NX 2

Did I use Silver Efex Pro or Capture NX 2 to convert this image to b&w? Does it matter?

Since the release of Black & White with Capture NX 2, I’ve been peppered with questions as to which application is better for black and white digital images. If you are familiar with my other reviews, you’ll know that the answer is rarely “black & white.” That being said, I’ll try to quickly take a look at the major differences in black and white digital conversion with these two applications.

First off, I should point out that Silver Efex Pro (and the upcoming SEP 2.0) are not available as native plug-ins to Nikon’s Capture NX 2. Capture NX 2 users, however, can set the Lightroom version of SEP as their “Open With” application and send it TIFF files directly from CNX2. With that out of the way, there are two things to consider when using any image editor, with or without plug-ins: Tools/Features and Workflow implications. Continue reading Black & White: Silver Efex Pro vs. Capture NX 2

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Rusty Furnace, HDR-style

Antique furnace at the Western Mining Museum, Colorado Springs, CO

A black & white version of this image appears in my new book on HDR.  I thought it would be fun to reprocess it in color for a different flavor.

I took a 5-shot hand-held exposure series (bracketed at f/8, ISO 640 with D3s) and merged the files in Nik’s HDR Efex Pro.  I then applied the “Artistic_Interiors_03” preset for HDR Efex Pro developed by Tony Sweet for our book (you can download all 14 of our custom HDR presets for free, here).

I used Control Points within HDR Efex Pro to tone down the saturation and brightness in the background, which helps draw your attention to the furnace.  I also added a mild vignette effect.  Final touches were done in Capture NX2 with the Tonal Contrast filter from Nik’s Color Efex Pro 3 plug-in.

Just to add a little holiday cheer, you can save 15% off any Nik Software product or suite when you use coupon code JODELL at checkout.

Thanks for looking, and Happy Holidays!


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Video: Using HDR Efex Pro with Capture NX2

I’ve been swamped with emails and feedback about my new eBook with Tony Sweet, The Photographer’s Guide to HDR Efex Pro.  One common question is “Can I use this with Capture NX2?”

The answer is yes and no.  Nik’s HDR Efex Pro won’t open NEF files on its own, and it doesn’t run as a native plug-in to Nikon’s Capture NX2.  However, the Lightroom plug-in version of HDR Efex Pro can be used as a stand-alone application, as long as you send it RGB images (TIFF or JPEG).  I recommend sending 16-bit TIFFs to HDR Efex Pro, and you can use Capture NX2 or any other RAW converter to do it.

Here are the basic steps for using HDR Efex Pro with a 3rd-party RAW converter.

  1. Apply generic global RAW conversion settings– set sharpening to “None” or “0”  and use these settings in a batch save to TIFF format (16-bit is best).
  2. Launch the Lightroom version of HDR Efex Pro
  3. Open the image series in HDR Efex Pro: File–>Open Exposure Series
  4. Tone-map the image.  You can learn everything you need about tone-mapping in The Photographer’s Guide to HDR Efex Pro.
  5. Save the tone-mapped image as a 16-bit TIFF.
  6. Open the tone-mapped image in Capture NX2 and save it as a NEF to preserve any further adjustments, like sharpening.

To see how it’s done, watch my instructional video, Nik’s HDR Efex Pro with Nikon’s Capture NX2 on YouTube!

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