Nik Collection - Silver Effects Pro 2

04th May 2017
I've acquired about half a dozen Topaz Labs software plug-ins for use in Photoshop over the last few years. I'm quite selective with what I use as I like to remain in control of the editing process and not rely on automated software that changes the essence of an image. One of the plug-ins is Topaz B&W Effects and I have used this for a few years to convert colour images to black and white. Once the image is loaded you simply choose one of the preset conversions from one of a number of Collections and a black and white image is prepared. You can apply a black and white filter if you want (red/orange/yellow/blue/green) and a series of sliders lets you make more adjustments either globally or locally. You can preview a before/after version of the image at any stage. The difficulty I have is that there are so many different looks it becomes a bit overwhelming.

I was reminded that the Nik Collection by Google is available to download for FREE, which includes their excellent black and white plug-in called Silver Effects Pro 2. After downloading and opening it in Photoshop I loaded some of my recent images taken in The Lake District. The first thing I noticed was the layout,which was similar to Topaz's B&W Effects; presets on the left, manual controls on the right including black and white filters and a 'control point' tool for making local adjustments within the image. Best of all, and something that Topaz B&W Effects doesn't have, is a small loupe which shows all the different zones within the image from pure black to pure white when you scroll your mouse over it.

It took about 10 minutes to familiarise myself with the layout and then I jumped in. The pre-set effects were different to the Topaz presets and there were less of them. Many gave results that were too OTT for my liking but one of the 'High Structure' presets gave the look I wanted, especially after adding one of the black and white filters. No other adjustments were necessary. I found it easy to use and very intuitive. Even though Google have said that this collection will not be developed further, it's an absolute steal.

Bridge End Farm and The Langdale Pikes

Bridge End Farm and The Langdale Pikes
Silver Effects Pro 2 - High Structure Smooth and Yellow filter

The Langdale Pikes from Great Langdale

The Langdale Pikes from Great Langdale
Silver Effects Pro 2 - High Structure Smooth and Red filter

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