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Thread: The use of plug-ins

  1. #1

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    wm c boyer

    The use of plug-ins

    I don't use them but I'm probably going to give some of them a try because I feel as though my "vision" is somewhat lacking. I take what I consider is a pretty picture...then what. What to do, where to take that picture in PP to convert that pretty picture into an object d'art. I'm thinking that perusing the various presets might help steer me in the right direction, an indication of which path to pursue.

    Yeah, I would be the first to admit that I'm looking for a "short-cut", but I'm seem to be at a sticking point regarding what I cough out. Who supplies the most presets?
    What say some of you all concerning my reasoning?

  2. #2

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    Allan Short

    Re: The use of plug-ins

    I have been using Nik for a number of years, presets are only and idea or starting place. What is the use of Who supplies the most presets when the most of the most are crap, what you want is a plug in that gives you the best overall starting place.

    Cheers:

    Allan

  3. #3
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: The use of plug-ins

    I do like NIK and think that it makes a viable addition to my Photoshop CS6 editing program. I have been using NIK for just a couple of months. At first, I only used the noise reduction, sharpening filters, and the Silver Efex Pro monochrome conversions along with Viveza. Viveza is more like Photoshop in that it doesn't supply any preset samples. You envisage what you want to do with the image and then work with it in Viveza. As with all the NIK filters, the U-Point technology really helps me...

    I avoided many of the Color Efex Pro filters because the presets seemed "over-the-top". However, NIK provides many tutorial videos on the use of their various filters and I am learning to use some of the Color Efex Presets. These presets modified and combined with Viveza and some Photoshop corrections tend to work quite well in many cases. I am beginning to use several of the Color Efex Presets, such as "Polarization" which, in many subtle (but, definitely not all) ways mimics the use of a polarizing filter.

    I sincerely think that anything that can be done with NIK can also be done with Photoshop and possibly with some other editing programs. However, NIK is easier (for me) to work with, faster (for me), and a lot more fun (again, for me)!

    Many of the NIK filters are (for me) intuitive. However, the tutorials provided by NIK provide ways to use NIK plug-ins that may not be obvious or inituive to many new users. This tutorial is directed towards wildlife photography and photographers but the information contained in the video is applicable to just about any type of photography.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jOHipGRzZWw

    One of the things that I don't really like about NIK is that if you choose to use their "Image Borders" filters in either Color Efex or Silver Efex, the borders intrude upon the image. Therefore, if I desire to use the NIK image borders, I need to crop loosely enough so that the border doesn't cut of portions of the image I consider vital. I tend to crop my images fairly closely, so leaving enough room for the borders is a learning experience. There are some NIK borders I like while, I prefer to add my own border style to many of my images using Photoshop...

    Using Photoshop as the host application for the NIK Plug-ins make them more powerful because you have more processing options in using "brushes" which I believe you do not have when hosting NIK Software from Lightroom and some other applications...

    BTW: The more I am using NIK Software, the more that I tend to do less dramatic and more subtle changes in my editing. Like when using the Portrait Professional plug-in, it is easy to go overboard using NIK filters. And, like with all editing, there is a learning curve associated with NIK. However, I consider that curve less steep than in other editing programs...

  4. #4
    MilT0s's Avatar
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    Re: The use of plug-ins

    I suggest you try the "Modern Photoshop Color Workflow".

    If you subscript for free you will access the very helpful panel with some very useful tools plus documentation and training videos. It's not exactly a plug in, rather some automated actions with presets to achieve excellent results fast.

    There is also a new book I have bought and found it to be very very useful.

    I prefer the results of these workflow to the Nik software (except for Silver Efex II of course).

    A photo from my point and shoot camera:

    The use of plug-ins

  5. #5
    apollo3333's Avatar
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    Re: The use of plug-ins

    That's a superb photo, Mitos. It makes me want to return to Greece!

  6. #6
    Davey's Avatar
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    Re: The use of plug-ins

    plugins are great for fast workflows but many are easy to replicate with a few steps in vanilla photoshop. Problem is they are generic and dont always work for your images too. Once you've done something once you can do it in a click if record as an action. Actions seem to be overlooked but I tend to use them for long winded stuff that is same every time, for instance I always do a low radius high pass sharpening filter as one of first things so having the clone layer, convert greyscale, high pass, blend mode overlay as 1 click saves time. Same for some curves adjust layers, if it gets me close I can tweak the rest on per image basis and use masks to selectively apply.

    Some of the denoising plugins are great and hard to replicate but ACR is pretty good these days. Eye candy and likes I find OTT but admit I like Nik plugins, particularly silvereffex although I often use pshop b&w and curves (plus few more steps for adding noise at times) on one of machines for similar result.

    IMHO the thing that makes the biggest difference to an image is dodge/burning and decent curves so you have rich black point but white point is high but subtle enough not to crush/clip it into a contrasty mess unless thats what you're after of course. So many regular contrast images have milder highlights which would pop so much more if brighter I think; many images seem they could do with keeping mids an black where they are but highlights are close to white rather than pale greys. Monitor brightness too high is mostly the culprit and can show in prints, if uncalibrated especially.

  7. #7

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    Re: The use of plug-ins

    easy to replicate with a few steps in vanilla photoshop
    I completely agree but...for the artistically impaired it does tend to give one a variety of "looks" of which that image would be capable.

  8. #8
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    Making a Guess

    I have a hunch that if Adobe had purchased the NIK technology (especially the U-Point system) and offered it as part of Adobe Photoshop CS-7 or CS-8; the image editing world would be singing the praises of this new capability for Photoshop.

    I am happy that they didn't because I don't intend to upgrade my CS-6 for many years because the combination of CS-6 and NIK is quite powerful. If the NIK is upgraded, I strongly suspect that the price will be relatively low since the complete set of NIK Plug-ins only costs $150 USD!

    Now, I would not want NIK alone but, if price were the factor in my editing program decision making progress, I would seriously consider NIK in combination with either Photoshop Elements or Lightroom...

    The nice thing, IMO, about owning a program (like my present CS-6 and NIK, or Elements and Lightroom) is that I will have the ability to decide if I ever need a new variation. IMO all changes are not necessarily progress. I think you can infer this much from my many rants regarding my intense feelings about the changes in the Smugmug program...
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 26th September 2013 at 02:40 PM.

  9. #9
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    Re: Making a Guess

    thing with likes of NIK is it cannot do anything that photoshop can't as essentially it work similar to an action, it does the things in photoshop rather than you which is great if 1. you don't know how or 2. you're tight for time.

    Only exceptions are plugins which feed data to an external application which tend to have dedicated standalone app, the plugin just enables integration with photoshop or opening of the apps actual workhorse doing the processing through pshop interface instead of the apps usual gui in some cases. I've not seen any image effects go this route yet though although they may be out there.

    Some things are eaisly replicated but many take a lot more learning. For instance the colorefex glamour glow is easy one click filter, to do same in photoshop it's curves adjust including channel independent tweaks, blur filters, layer masks, blend mode and so on. How the plugin does it is by automating all those things in the background so you don't need to do it. The plugins are usually still the middleman though and it's photoshop doing the actual work in most cases. I agree with rpcrowe on U-point interface in that it makes layer mask and adjustments etc much easier single click processes for many people. As long as there is the option to do it manually the longer way if the control is needed then easy modes would be nice at times.

  10. #10
    RustBeltRaw's Avatar
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    Re: Making a Guess

    It's true that anything NIK can do, Photoshop can do. But the user has to know that it's possible, and how to get there. That's not asking a too much, but it's definitely easier to compare looks in NIK. To my mind, the broad range of options is the main advantage. I use NIK HDR and Silver Efex. Haven't been terribly impressed with Color Efex so far. Feels Instagrammish, but lots of people way better than me are using it to make killer work.

  11. #11

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    Re: Making a Guess

    No one has mentioned the Topaz suite. I got that just after purchasing Nik mainly for Denoise and Detail. They have not disappointed and I like Clarity, too. I very rarely use a preset 'as is' in any of these programs. I move the various sliders about until the image is the way I want it. Some presets can be quite strong but it is so easy to move the sliders back to zero and start from scratch. Sometimes, I duplicate an image. With one, I try to stay subtle and, with the other, I go wherever I want. The Topaz filters typically take longer to load and apply than Nik. Detail is particularly annoying in this way but I find the time waiting to be time well wasted, er, spent. Both offer free trials which will definitely give you a good taste of how they work.

  12. #12
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    Re: Making a Guess

    I have a website dedicated to plug-ins (URL in sig) and a free accompanying ezine. Issue #22 is now ready and includes a feature on the new Topaz Complete Collection, speaking of which.

    Plug-ins are perfect for those who are new to post-processing who don't yet do things manually, those in a hurry (production environments) or for those cases where you just can't replicate the effects in your image editor alone.

  13. #13
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Making a Guess

    Lex,
    I felt the same way about Color Efex Pro as you. The presets were "over-the-top" but, the more that I watch the NIK tutorial videos, the more that I realize how these presets can modified and combined to end up with realistic (not over-cooked) images.
    I like using Photoshop CS6 as a host because it allows the use of "brushes" which really increases the capabilities of the U-Point system...
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 1st October 2013 at 04:30 AM.

  14. #14
    inkista's Avatar
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    Re: Making a Guess

    Huh. My most-used plug-in (Flexify) is one that does stuff Photoshop simply can't. Remapping 360x180 panos to complex mathematical equations is a decidedly niche function. Not many people want to turn this:

    The use of plug-ins

    Into this:

    The use of plug-ins

    and this:

    The use of plug-ins

    But I do. The only other way I know of to get there is to a) know the math, b) how to program it C-style, and c) then stick that code into the Gimp plugin known as Mathmap. I prefer Flexify.

    Some plugins actually do add functionality that Photoshop doesn't have. Not all of them are merely elaborate presets.

  15. #15
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    Re: Making a Guess

    yeah that is why I mentioned some are external prog that integrate. I have tone mapping, pano plugins, focus stackers as well as a colour grader that does things photoshop doesn't do myself, same for noise applications such as neatimage I've used in past. they are all dedicated applications that does something photoshop can't do and some have no GUI and rely on photoshop for the interface as they're CLI tools. Most the ones people discuss are creative ones that do have an equivalent as the dedicated stuff people tend to know they need it already and don't pick it up on recommendation IMO but could be wrong.

    Also Inkista have you tried PTGUI, the pro version does better job than most and I've tried loads of panotools/pfstools stuff, hugin and so on. Supports a ton of projection types, plugins including autopano, enblend, smartblend, mender/stitcher/nona and so on.

  16. #16
    inkista's Avatar
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    Re: Making a Guess

    Pano above was made with the Pro version. I used to use PTMac, but obviously, once OSX Lion killed its development stone dead, I had to move and PTGui was pretty much the only game in town. I think anyone who's experienced with equirectangular stitching eventually moves to PTGui Pro. As much fun as Hugin is, there are times you really really want PTGui. The masking and viewpoint correction features are worth the cost in time saved vs. Hugin.

  17. #17
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    Re: Making a Guess

    I have a question about how NIK plugins work when used with Lightroom.

    It is my understanding that NIK only works with TIFF files, correct? When you start the plugin does NIK automatically create a new file based on what you have done in Lightroom (RAW file plus all of the adjustments you have made to that point)? Do you now have two files, the RAW file (plus instructions) and the new TIFF? What happens when you move back to Lightroom, or should you be pretty much done once you've made the NIK adjustments.

    I am confused.

  18. #18
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    Re: Making a Guess

    Hi Didace,

    When you select "edit in Nik whatever" in Lightroom, LR creates the TIFF file by "baking in" the non-destructive changes that you have made to that point and handing it over to Nik. When you finish editing in Nik the edited TIFF file is handed back to LR and appears in the LR catalogue. So you have two images, the original LR one, and a new TIFF. Hope this makes sense! Dave

  19. #19
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    Re: Making a Guess

    Dave, thank you.

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