HDR – How it Works & How to Use it Properly

Summary – The clearest explanation of how HDR works I’ve seen. Also uses that explanation to demonstrate why many HDR images look so, well HDR-ish (as opposed to natural).

Another great post

by Ming Thein – a good photographer who is

An even better writer

To be expected if you attended Oxford at 16 😉


I won’t dwell on my feelings about HDR (not all positive)

Ming pretty much says it all

(BUT – if you really want more – here are my 60 HDR posts)

.

Read his excellent article by clicking on this image

(and learn about dynamic range & zone system at the same time

2014-04-14_9-18-19© Ming Thein

 

 


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Nik Collection – A Quick Status Update

Summary – Since the release of the updated Nik Collection on 10/29 some users have encountered problems – with the collection as a whole, with the new addition Analog Efex Pro, and with the automatic update’s download system. Here’s the latest.

By now the auto-update should have installed

Version 1.1.0.7 on your system

Read this post for how to check for

The version on your computer

1.1.0.7 is for Win

As of yesterday Mac was stuck at 1.1.0.5

How do you know if your version is the latest?

At any point in time – you don’t, short of

1. Going to Nik’s download site

2. Download a nearly 400,000 KB file

3. Install it

4. Run the Nik Collection

5. Look at the version #

In fact, the testers are no wiser than you

Which is why I said sayonara there today

I have better ways to waste my time than

Testing versions that have already been updated

and no one bothered to tell me

Asked repeatedly for notices, to no avail

Sayonara after over 5 years

Presumably because of recent download problems

The auto download had been disabled for a time

I did steps 1 – 6 above on the 12th

Found that 1.1.0.7 was downloaded

Prior to that I had 1.1.0.5

1.1.0.6?? It had come & gone Google said

Back to the auto download –

I didn’t update my 2nd PC on the 12th

Wanted to see when it auto-updated & with what

1.1.0.7 replaced version 1.1.0.5 today – the 14th

You should have gotten the same

Did you? Anyone?

There; I got that off of my chest,

Your friendly curmudgeon 😦 😉

________________________________________________________

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Analog Efex Pro (AEP) – A Short “Tutorial”, 2

Summary – This post provides illustrated example results for each individual AEP filter. These filters, when combined as shown yesterday, are the foundation of AEP – tools to create a set of analog cameras. This post, together with yesterday’s part 1 and my previous Nik tutorials, comprise the tutorial for AEP.

This post illustrates AEP’s individual filters

One-at-a time

This is the only way to see & understand

What each filter actually does

Once the filters are combined

Into camera presets (the normal AEP usage)

It’s  impossible to see and understand

Each filter’s individual contribution

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IMO A perfectly good image

Roll mouse over for an AEB version – really??

I don’t like antique because I’m a curmudgeon

Out of touch with the needs & likes of social media sites

But you? If you like it, go for it 😉

0010001blog

0020001ablog

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Following are annotated screen-shots of filter-by-filter results

Should be helpful when using AEP at the camera preset level

Else – you have no clue what each of the camera’s filters do

Click on any screenshot to enlarge it

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1. Let’s begin with one where some effects are difficult to see

Bokeh – controls the focus of the image

Adjusts size, shape & placement  of the blurred area

While the conventional blur is immediately obvious

If your image has no highlight areas

you won’t see the bokeh shaped blurs (in highlights only)

Making this nothing but an ordinary blur filter

10-30-2013 1-08-18 PM

Note as the highlight brightness changes (W to Y to G) above

The bokeh shape becomes less & less noticeable

Below, check the AN portions of the 1st word

Big Whoop! 😉 (translation – who cares)

10-30-2013 1-29-18 PM

You have to experiment with the filters settings

But first select an image where bokeh effects are possible

Highlights in the image are needed

IMO – not a particularly useful tool

Unless you want to produce star bursts around bright lights

But then – that’s easy to do in-camera

For the conventional blur, Color Efex Pro filters are better

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2. Yet another blur toolZoom & Rotate Blur

Creates zoom blur & rotational blur

Around the center of the image

(or moved off-center)

10-30-2013 1-36-14 PM

If this effect is all that you want

Similar (better?) filters for this can be found in

Photoshop among other places

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3. Light Leaks

Add light flare effects

Selected light can be positioned

Parameters including strength can be adjusted

10-30-2013 1-42-51 PM

OK –  if this sort of thing is important to you

One of several cases where control points might be useful

Sometimes you don’t want the effect in an area

& positioning isn’t enough

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4. Dirt & Scratches

Adds damaged negative D&S effects to an image

Selected D&S can be positioned

Negative Strength give white D&S, positive gives black

10-30-2013 1-47-25 PM

OK –  if this sort of thing is important to you

Another of several cases where control points might be useful

Sometimes you don’t want the effect in an area

& positioning isn’t enough

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5. Lens Vignette Fundamentally the same as similar filters in other programs

Each of the collection’s Efex programs has a version

10-30-2013 1-56-55 PM

Not needed unless you’re doing one-stop shopping

All post-processing in AEP

Else, I’d use the several similar options in Color Efex

Including Darken/Lighten Center

Where control points are available if needed

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6. Film Type

Simulates film

Varies color, tone, contrast and grain

10-30-2013 2-01-07 PM

Again, consider Color Efex Pro as an alternative

Or Silver Efex if you’re going for monotone

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7. Frames

Provides frames that simulate different types of film

10-30-2013 2-08-36 PM

An alternative to Image Borders

In Snapseed, Color & Silver Efex

AEP’s have an entirely different look & feel

If you like that look

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8. Level & Curves

Nothing to discuss here; nothing new

10-30-2013 2-13-59 PM

Not used in any camera preset (intentionally)

To use when & where you choose

Open the camera kit & add it to whatever preset you’re using

You can save it in any of your custom presets

Without fear that Google will delete it in the future (so they say)

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9. Lens Distortion

Apply pincushion or barrel distortion, and/or

Apply the color fringing of a chromatic shift

11-5-2013 9-39-41 AM

The effects are not unique to analog

Why you’d want to introduce them to an image

Apart from illustrating what they are for an educational setting

Is beyond me (but that’s true for most AEP filters 😉 )

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10. Photo Plate

Simulates organic textures of darkroom processing

11-5-2013 9-48-33 AM

Again, OK if you like this type of thing

Together with D&S and Light Leaks they provide

Three great ways to really mess up an image 😉 😦

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11. Basic Adjustments

As the name says – Basic

Part of AEP mostly to provide a one-stop post-processing program

Without the need for what is normally

Routine processing elsewhere

11-5-2013 9-51-20 AM

This is the place where lack of control points hurts the most

If you follow my workflow suggestions in part 1

This is where the image is adjusted for subsequent Analog Efex

Assumes that only global adjustments are needed, but

Some local regions may benefit from purely local changes

Highlight for example vis-a-vis the Bokeh filter

Oh well – even though this was the most common tester comment

No change on the Google-front (so far)

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As noted for certain filters

They can be positioned – but only to a degree

Maybe not to where you want them

Along this same line

Frames have no options at all

You select one & are stuck with it as is

Many other programs are more flexible

Sizing, flipping, rotating, etc.

I’ve put in a request; we’ll see

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Some of these filter effects can be accomplished

Using Snapseed via its Texture feature

Available in several of Snapseed’s “filters”

Consider this as an alternative to

Light Leaks, D&S, and Film Plate for example

Other similar effects are possible in

Color, Silver and HDR Efex Pro

Often more effectively

Different strokes for different folks….

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Reactions to AEP vary all over the lot

My blog poll a short while back

Indicated luke-warm interest in vintage effects

But – some others are enthused

Me – blah! 😉

But I am a card-carrying

Certified Camera Curmudgeon

(membership limited to grumpy old men)

Curmudgeon (noun) – crusty, ill-tempered, old man

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Analog Efex Pro (AEP) – A Short “Tutorial”, 1

Summary – This post (& the next) presents a suggested workflow for AEP. It also provides illustrated example results for each AEP filter. This post, together with my previous Nik tutorials, provides everything needed to be an AEP-pro. 😉

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If you’re familiar with how to use Color, Silver & HDR Efex Pro

You already know how to use Analog Efex Pro

Except the “analog” details (covered in this post)

AEP’s layout and interface are

The same as the other “Efex-pro” plug-ins

Read about them in my tutorial posts

A big difference – AEP doesn’t offer Nik Control Points

Thus offers no local adjustments

(To the dismay of testers. Will Google listen? Stay tuned)

.

Click on any image to enlarge it

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Workflow

Well designed image editing programs

Are intended to be used from the Top-Down

as illustrated in this Adobe ACR screen-shot

11-3-2013 10-52-02 AM

The same is true of Nik Collection plug-ins

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An AEP workflow walk-through

11-3-2013 11-00-07 AM

Step 4, in general, should be worked on from top to bottom

In fact, uncheck all of the individual filter boxes

Except the one at the top

Otherwise, the interaction among the settings is confusing

Turn them back on again – one at a time

As you finish adjusting the one immediately above

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Each main camera type – classic, vintage, toy, wet plate

Is made up of filters that are available in the Camera Kit “type”

Each of the four types uses a different combination of

The kit’s 11 possible filters

11-3-2013 11-18-50 AM

Further, cameras within a given type, Toy for instance

Each use the same filters as others of the same type

This is shown in the table below

NOTE – three filters (yellow) are used for every camera and

One (pink) is unused – a holdover from an early release

You can safely use the unused L&C and save it in presets

Google assures me it won’t go away in the future

11-3-2013 12-40-12 PM

The differences between cameras of an identical type are due to

Each filter’s individual settings being varied

From camera to camera within that camera type

As shown for Toy 1 vs. Toy 3 below

11-3-2013 12-48-47 PM

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Next post –

The effects produced by each Camera Kit filter

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Nik Collection – Troubleshooting the New Release

Summary – Since the release of the updated Nik Collection on 10/29 (including Analog Efex Pro) lots of users have encountered a variety of problems. Read here about the problems and the solutions.

A variety of problems have cropped up

Since Google finally released an update to

The one-year old original Google Nik Collection

Some of these problems extend beyond the collection

Sometimes they also disable host programs like PS

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This long-abandoned factory was already grungy

Using Analog Efex Pro might be considered “piling-on”

Roll mouse over for the AEP version

001D800E_120908_115037__DSC1244 nx2wb-dl cep4sep2lum66blog 002D800E_120908_115037__DSC1244_aepblog

Added light leaks, corroded plate, film strip frame

What else could go wrong 😉

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IMO the current problems are not only unfortunate

Many could have been avoided

I won’t go into details as I suspect I’m already on thin ice

Made too many critical comments on the tester forum

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Here’s the bottom line for fixing 99% of known problems

Reinstall the collection

Details can be found here (click image to open)

11-2-2013 12-05-29 PM

Figure 1

Once you’re at this page, be sure to click on the line

That most nearly describes your problem

The nearly universal “solution” is to reinstall – HOWEVER

You’ll want to know whether to

Uninstall first – or not

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I said re-install is the answer for 99% of the problems

The other 1% are usually caused by graphics cards

You can read about that in my post from this summer

Troubleshooting the Nik Collection

This earlier post covers all known collection problems

At the time it was written

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Nik Collection Version Numbers

Prior to the new release

Determining the installed version number was a challenge

Now, just click on the collection logo

For any open collection plug-in

Click to enlarge

11-2-2013 12-23-24 PM

Figure 2

Unfortunately, Google hasn’t provided

Any convenient way to determine

The number of their latest version

If you’re curious,

Start a download of the trial version

The filename includes the version #

nikcollection-1.1.0.5.exe Cancelled
If the new release hasn’t been
Auto-updated to your computer yet (check your version)
(You must be a registered owner)
You can manually download & install it
Click on Figure 1 above
Follow the download & install instructions
________________________________________________________

Google auto-updates

Read this post for details

and this next one for

A user poll on auto-updating

Over 70% were against it

It’s annoying to re-install an older version

To solve problems cause by the latest auto-update

Only to discover that Google’s auto-update

Re-installs the one you’re trying to get rid of

A short while later

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Getting Help

Click on this image to get to Nik Collection Help

Clicking on the Contact Us (once there)

Tells how to email and phone

The Nik Collection product help is much better now; use it

If there are unanswered questions after contacting Google

Let me know & I’ll see if I can help

11-2-2013 1-04-04 PM

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Other Issues

Analog Efex Pro still suffers premature “new-born” ailments

Watch for version updates

Two so far from 1.1.0.3 to 0.4 to 0.5

on 10/29, 10/30 & 10/31

Tells you something, doesn’t it?

Plug-in interface may not be as you left it

After last using a given plug-in

Panels collapsed, loupe instead of histogram

That sort of thing

It doesn’t seem to remember where it was left

When a new update is done

Grin it & bear it; maybe one day they’ll figure it out

Enough complaining for one post – past my 500 word limit

________________________________________________________

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Nik Collection Introduces – Analog Efex Pro (AEP)

Summary – Yesterday (10/29/13) Google announced a major new “Efex-team” player addition to its existing lineup of Color, Silver & HDR – Analog Efex Pro (AEP). AEP is from a different “league”. Prior team members performed necessary photography functions. AEP does one thing & that thing isn’t essential – it converts images to an old film-era look, joining the already crowded field of faux-vintage-image players. Is it needed? No. Is it fun to play around with? Yes. You can even build your own custom vintage camera. It’s a free upgrade so no harm, no foul.

Analog Efex Pro – Observations by Yours Truly

Read about it here

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Why would I want to do this to a perfectly good image? 😦

Roll mouse over for an AEP example

001D800E-_131003_063445__DSC9929_orig_HDRblog 001D800E-_131003_063445__DSC9929_orig_HDRblog aep

I didn’t “intentionally” try to make AEP look bad

Simply used a canned preset AEP recipe

Then again, some may like this

Certainly saves money buying expensive equipment 😉

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My personal opinion on AEP

Could I personally do without

1. Color Efex Pro? No

2. Silver Efex Pro? No

3. HDR Efex Pro? Yes, 99.9% of the time

4. Analog Efex Pro? Yes, 100% of the time

Vintage effects aren’t my thing 😉

But – that’s just me

Based on my blog’s recent faux-vintage usage survey

Only 15% see room for yet-another such program

So – maybe it’s more than just me

There’s a reason the collection’s programs were

Developed in the 1-4 order shown above

Photo restoration service is a well-established business Also, colorizing & otherwise modernizing old images

Has lots of new-found interest

(interesting article with many historical image examples)

Analog Efex Pro seems to be swimming against the tide

Adding yet another tool for intentionally degrading images

IMO Google resources should have been used to

Improve the existing functionality

Something that actually benefits all users

Not just providing a small minority a new toy

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Note – “announced” does not mean “released”

AEP isn’t available to the public yet

When there’s more news I’ll try to let you know

In the interim I’ll sprinkle some

Additional info about AEP & more examples

(as soon as I find out what info is releasable)

[Update – apparently AEP is released. They just didn’t tell the testers. In light of still on-going test issues with AEP, I mistakenly thought this was a pre-announcement. Mea culpa.

Since Google updates their products automatically, you should see a new release of the Nik Collection – including AEP – on your system shortly if not already. Would someone please leave a comment here when that happens. Thanks.]

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Photographs & Paintings

Summary – Off to the mountains for a day-trip tomorrow. Forecast is rain. Hoping to see some photo-ops like those that led to today’s image – more painting-like than photo-like.

.

Odd ball filters, gauze, Vaseline, almost anything

placed in front of your lens can produce

interesting results

.

Sometimes almost painterly, in fact

(Used a wet windshield in this case)

Monet Made Me Do It

Skyline Drive, Shenandoah National Park

North entrance to Skyland looking south down the drive

Click to enlarge & see the “brush strokes”

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Technical – Nikon D300, Tokina 16-50 @50mm, 1/10 sec, f/5.6, EV=-2/3, ISO400, WB=Cloudy, center weighted metering, aperture priority, RAW capture, circular polarizer, hand-held, LiveView with manual focus

  • Taken through the windshield in a downpour (parked)
  • Hand held and braced on top of the steering wheel
  • I wanted the effect of the flowing water on the windshield visible, and the background soft and painterly – a relatively shallow DOF
  • f/5.6 at 50mm gives a DOF of only a few feet (4′ at a focus distance of 12′ which is about the distance to the tree framing the left side)
  • I used LiveView to see the image more clearly & used manual focus to get what I wanted

Composition

  • Trees trunks to frame left/right
  • Colorful leaves/branch to frame top
  • After zooming my 16-50 to 50, the final “Zoom” was moving the car forward/backward until  the tree framing was right
  • Give the eye a destination – the light area at the bend of the drive
  • Place the “destination” off-center; bulls eyes usually don’t work
  • The car was off the drive at a spot where I could move it safely – but anyone watching would surely have wondered ??

Post-process

1. Photoshop Elements/Adobe Camera RAW for RAW conversion

2. Tonal & color contrast adjustments in Color Efex Pro 4 using my custom designed recipe for basic image post processing

  Step-by-step detailed illustration in this post

3. Added a border using my saved CEP4 custom border recipe

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Combine techniques like this with camera motion and/or multiple exposures for some really painterly results

Or, if not painterly, then definitely non-photographic

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