Nik Software is brilliant

For a while now I have using the Nik software collection of photoshop and Lightroom plugins. They can be bought separately or as a complete collection. These plugins have shaved hours off of my editing times and although they cannot quite replace the hard work of manipulating every aspect of an image manually, they do help speed up the every day process.

I love these plugins and as a collection they cover all aspects of the image editing process. They are designed primarily to turn Photoshop into Nikons Capture NX2 which I think is a wrong way of looking at it. It does however bring capture NX2 style editing to Photoshop to those who wish to use it in that way. I personally don't. I use photoshop for a reason and don't use capture NX2 for other reasons (although the results from capture NX2 are really good).

The complete collection from Nik comes with several Programs which are used as either stand alone programs or as photoshop plugins. I'm not going to go into detail with all of it as that is what the ink website is for and can be found at www.niksoftware.com. I will talk about the things I us the most. This comes down to Silver fx pro, Color fx pro, dfine and sharpener.

Silver FX Pro is a really cool black and white plugin which produces some of the best results I have seen outside of black and white film. The great thing is that it does also produce images based on film styles, so presets can be chose to replicate the behaviour of say Ilford HP5 or Kodak Tri-X, producing accurate film grain and contrast. It is one of my favourite pieces of software ever (right up there with football manager) and has made it easier for the standardise my black and white images, by creating custom presets.

Another one I use quite a bit is Color FX Pro. This has many different filters and effects, most of which I will never use, however there are a few which are massively important to my workflow. The main one is the dynamic skin softening. This works really in selective softening of the subjects skin. You can use a colour selector to choose the tones which are softened and adjust what object are softened. Another excellent filter is cross processing. This gives the effect of the old fashioned "washed out" colours from the 60's and 70's that is currently having a resurgence in fashion advertising.

Dfine and sharpener are very good for noise and sharpening although I do not use them as much as the others as I tend to use Lightroom and photoshop for this.

I would seriously recommend these plugins for anyone who wants to improve their workflow as they enable you to play around with different things and it takes seconds to create basic but decent results.