I’ve been a die hard Adobe user my entire computer life, for photography that means Lightroom and Photoshop. A lot of people swear by the Nik Collection of image editing modules, but I had never given them a shot. Well that all changed when they became free. Yes that’s right, instead of something becoming MORE expensive, something good became FREE!
My previous workflow was simply to import RAWs into Lightroom and do 95% of my work there, going into Photoshop only if it was required. But with my latest project I decided to integrate the Nik package into my workflow to see what the hype was all about.
Quick look before & after, trying to keep it subtle, while clearing up the “green” haze.
My suggested workflow, I believe, integrates the Nik modules into a nice Lightroom workflow that doesn’t take much longer than just using Lightroom itself.
- Import RAW into Lightroom and correct exposure, lense correct and crop
- Adjust sharpness in Nik RAW Presharpener using Sharpener Pro 3
- Enhance structure using Viveza 2
- Adjust overall tonality and saturation using Color Efex Pro 4
- Apply final sharpening using Sharpener Pro 3
- Do a pass of noise reduction using Dfine 2
- Final crop and export in Lightroom
This is very similar to the suggested workflow, however I do one thing differently and that is to move final noise reduction to the end. I feel that some of the image enhancements can introduce and/or increase the noise present in the image. So that is why I do a final pass of noise reduction before the final crop and resize.
The structure adjustment seems a bit more complex, creating a more subtle effect than Lightrooms options.
Overall I really like the way these enhancements work upon your image. All the algorithms seem more complex than their Adobe counterparts, modifying your image in a more pleasing natural way than in Lightroom. I especially like the Structure option within the Low Key filter in Vivesa 2, but it’s very strong so be subtle with it. I don’t think the Nik Collection is as fast as Lightroom at doing color grading, or anywhere near as powerful as Photoshop. But going forward I think I will add most, if not all, of it’s modules to my standard workflow from now on. Thanks GOOGLE!!!
The effect may look heavy handed, but when viewed in context with all the images I don’t feel they look un-natural. Especially when the images are presented in the 2.35 Cinemascope aspect ratio, the images really come to life. There is just something about seeing an ultra-widescreen image that draws you in. It will also let you get a bit crazy with your compositions, don’t be afraid to go asymmetrical.
I hope you enjoy seeing these before & afters as much as I do. It’s always good to see where something started, and how it can end up. If you have any questions or want to leave a comment, please do, I’d love to hear from ya’ll!!!