Learning Analog Efex Pro
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Basic adjustments


Learning Analog Efex Pro

with Tim Grey

Video: Basic adjustments

Before opening an image in Analog Efex Pro, I would have typically applied

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Watch the Online Video Course Learning Analog Efex Pro
1h 5m Intermediate May 20, 2014

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Analog Efex Pro, part of the Nik Collection from Google, is focused on adding various film and wet plate effects, enabling you to import a sense of age and a unique look to any digital photo. In this course you'll learn all about the many creative effects you can apply in Analog Efex Pro, such as lens distortion, vignettes, bokeh, and imitated dust and scratches.

Analog Efex Pro
Tim Grey

Basic adjustments

Before opening an image in Analog Efex Pro, I would have typically applied at least some basic adjustments, to improve the over all appearance of the photo. In other words, I'll optimize the photo as it is, and then bring the image into Analog Efex Pro, in order to apply a creative effect based on for example, a classic camera type of look. However, based on that adjustment, based on the various creative effects that I may have applied within Analog Efex Pro, I might decide that I want to apply some fine-tuning adjustments.

Some basic adjustments, to optimize the overall brightness, contrast, and saturation, for example. And Analog Efex Pro, provides us with some basic adjustments, to accomplish just that. In addition, the basic adjustments section on the right panel in Analog Efex Pro, also includes a detail extraction adjustment. Let's take a look at each of these adjustments, so that you can get a better sense of how you might put them to use, when working on an image, in Analog Efex Pro. We'll start off with detail extraction, which is a reasonably good name for this control, seeing as how it allows us to literally extract detail from our image.

This control is essentially applying two basic adjustments, that you're probably already familiar with. One, is of course, a brightening of shadow details within the image. So, for example, here at the top left of the photo, you can see that the dark areas have been brightened up considerably. And so I'm able to see a lot more information in that portion of the photo. You might also recognize, that the image has a bit more contrast, a bit more clarity. And, in fact, that's essentially the second adjustment that's included as part of detail extraction.

In addition to brightening up shadow details, and in fact brightening up the whole image, we are also getting a little bit more texture in the photo. This is very similar to the clarity adjustment, for example, that is available in Adobe Camera Raw as well as Lightroom. Or, to the technique of applying sharpening across a very large area. In other words, not sharpening fine details, but essentially enhancing local contrast within the image. You can see that in the background here, where there was already some contrast, I've created some exaggerated artifacts within the photo, some exaggerated edges.

And so, this is obviously a bit too strong an effect, for this photo. Of course, you could argue that the effect is too strong overall just based on the image itself. I'll go ahead and dial that adjustment back just a little bit, and in fact, I'll take it down to zero initially, so we can see the initial image, and then I'll just gradually bring that setting up, and you can see that we're brightening up specific details as well as enhancing overall contrast. Within specific areas of the image, and those two adjustments in combination, are helping to improve significantly, the overall perceived level of detail within the photo.

You do need to be careful about artifacts as those we're creating in the transition between the train here and the sky, but otherwise, you can simply adjust as needed for the image, in order to improve the overall appearance. In terms of the level of detail that's visible. Next we'll move on to brightness, which of course is a very straightforward adjustment. I can drag the slider to the right to brighten the image. Or drag that slider to the left, if I want to darken the image. I can of course evaluate the overall image if I'd like.

I can even make use of the histogram display if I were concerned about clipping, for example. But in general, I just want to apply a very subtle fine-tuning adjustment. In some cases, I might want a more dramatic adjustment to go along with the various film or wet plate effects that I've applied for example, but usually, I'll consider this just a fine-tuning adjustment. For example, sometimes compensating for an image that got a little bit too dark, based on the creative effects I've applied. I'll go ahead and increase brightness just a little bit more for this image.

And then we can take a look at contrast, which again, is a fairly straight forward control. Dragging to the right will increase contrast, and dragging to the left will decrease contrast. And again, I tend to use a relatively subtle adjustment here. I might want to reduce contrast to give an image a little bit older look, for example. Or increase contrast to create a more dramatic image. But in most cases, this will be a relatively subtle adjustment, just fine-tuning the overall photo. And then finally, we have a saturation adjustment, and that allows us to increase the intensity of colors in the image, or decrease the intensity of colors.

And again, obviously, depending on the particular effect we're applying. We might increase or decrease, maybe decreasing the saturation for the photo to give it a little bit older look. Or increasing saturation to sort of exaggerate the quality problems that might occur with a toy camera effect, for example. And in some cases, we may want to reduce saturation altogether, so that we create a black and white effect. Just keep in mind that through other adjustments, we're able to add a color tint on top of, this reduction in saturation.

So, just because you have saturation down at the minus 100 minimum value. Does not necessarily mean that there will be no color at all, in the actual image. In this case, I think I do want to have some of that original color in the photo, but I might fade it back just a little bit, maybe right around there. And that takes care of my basic adjustments. Detail extraction, brightness, contrast and saturation. And with those basic adjustments applied, I can then go work on the various creative effects that I want to apply to the image.

But bear in mind, I can always come back to these basic adjustments, even after applying those creative effects, in order to fine-tune my photo.

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