Basics of Using the Nik Collection
Video: Basic Lightroom workflowLearn the basics of working with the Nik Collection, a group of image enhancement plugins from Google.
Learn the basic techniques for working with the affordable, easy-to-use Nik Collection, a group of photo enhancement plugins from Google. This course provides a great way to get up to speed quickly with the full Nik Collection, including workflows for integrating the plugins with your Lightroom and Photoshop workflows. Tim Grey touches on interface options, presets, loupe and histogram behavior, preview options, and other features that are common to all the programs in the collection: Analog Efex Pro, Color Efex Pro, Silver Efex Pro 2, HDR Efex Pro, Sharpener Pro, Viveza, and Dfine.
This course was created by Tim Grey. We are honored to host this training in our library.
Basic Lightroom workflow
If you're using Adobe Photoshop Lightroom to manage your images, you can make use of Lightroom to send images to the various applications in the Nik Collection in order to apply a variety of different effects. The basic workflow for most of those applications in the Nik Collection is essentially the same. Lets take a look at that basic process. First, we'll take a look at some of the settings involved and so I'll go up to the menu bar and on the Lightroom menu on the Macintosh version of Lightroom or the Edit Menu on the Windows version of Lightroom, you'll find the Preferences option.
When you select Preferences, the Preferences dialog will come up, of course, and you can choose the External Editing tab in order to adjust the settings for how images are sent to external editors, and that includes the various applications in the Nik Collection. When you install the Nik Collection, it will automatically configure itself for use in Lightroom and so, you really don't need to change anything, but it can be helpful to understand what those settings are. Under Additional External Editor, you'll see we have a list of presets.
I'll click that popup and you can see, for example, that we have Analog Efex Pro, Color Efex Pro, Define, etc. These are all presets that determine how images will be sent to the various applications in the Nik Collection. For example, you can see that the file being created is a TIFF image. I could change that to a PSD or a JPEG if I prefer. I can also choose which color space I would like to use. You can see here that the default is set to sRGB. I would prefer to work either in AdobeRGB or ProPhotoRGB since those are larger gamut color spaces.
I'll go ahead and choose AdobeRGB in this case, and then I can specify the bit depth. I always prefer 16 bit per channel whenever possible. So, I'll leave this set to the 16 bits per component option. The resolution is really just a convenience setting. The default here, as you can see, is 240 pixels per inch. My personal preference is to set this to 360 pixels per inch because in most cases, when I'm outputting an image, when I'm printing an image, I'm doing so to a photo inkjet printer. And my photo inkjet printer happens to render data at 360 pixels per inch, and so that's a good value to establish here.
Basically just saves me a step later when I need to adjust the resolution, should that become necessary. I can also choose compression since I am saving as a TIFF image. I can choose among LZW or ZIP compression, or of course, leave the option set to None. I'll go ahead and choose the ZIP compression option, which is generally better in terms of reducing file size when it come to 16 bit per channel images. Note that both LZW and ZIP compression are lossless, meaning that they will not reduce the quality of your image.
I also want to stack any of these derivative images that I might create when using an external editor with the original image. So, as I create an image in Analog Efex Pro, for example, the TIFF image that I'm creating will be stacked with my original RAW capture, which makes it a little bit easier to find the image that I'm looking for later. So I've made some changes to the Analog Efex Pro preset here. I might want to change the settings for other presets as well.
I'll go ahead in this case though and save the updates. So I'll click that preset popup and then down at the bottom, you'll find Update Preset and that will save all of the updates to the settings I've just made as part of that preset. So, basically resaving the preset with the same name but updated settings. You may want to review the various settings for the presets you'll use for external editing to make sure the settings are as you prefer them. I'll go ahead and close the Preferences dialog and we'll take a brief aside here to take a look at an exception in terms of the basic workflow process, and that relates to HDR Efex Pro.
If you're assembling a high dynamic range image using HDR Efex Pro, you will not be using the normal external editor workflow in Lightroom. Instead, you'll be using an export workflow. The first step is to select the several images that you want to assemble into an HDR. At the moment I'm not actually working on an HDR image, so I'll just select two random images just for the sake of illustration, and then we can go to the File menu and choose Export with Preset, and choose this specific preset that we want to use to export these images.
We could also click the Export button at the bottom of the left panel in the Library module and then choose the appropriate preset from the left side of that dialog. That would be HDR Efex Pro 2 of course, so that we can export the images to HDR Efex Pro 2. This export process is only applicable to HDR Efex Pro when it comes to the Nik Collection. So, it's a little bit of an exception relative to the other applications in the Nik Collection. And just so that you are familiar, I'll go ahead and click the Export button to bring up the Export dialog and then under Google, you'll see the HDR Efex Pro 2 preset.
And so, we can choose this very simply from the File menu or you can come into the Export dialog if you prefer. But in this case, I'm not actually going to create an HDR image, so I'll go ahead and click the Cancel button, and then we can take a look at the work flow for processing an image with the other plugins for the Nik Collection. In this case, I'll just use Analog Efex Pro as my example so that I can apply an older look to an image. So, I've selected the image. If I want to apply some basic adjustments, now is a good time to do that.
So, with an image selected, I can go to the Develop module, and then over on the right panel, in the Develop module, I can apply whatever adjustments I'd like. And so perhaps I want to fine tune the color temperature just a bit, or I want to fine tune the overall tonal adjustment, maybe clean up some noise or chromatic abberations. Whatever the case may be, I can apply all those adjustments now so that they will be applied for the image that I'm processing in Analog Efex Pro or whichever application in the Nik Collection I happen to be using.
The point being is that we can apply adjustments in the Develop module before working with our images in the Nik Collection. So, let's assume that I've applied whatever adjustments I'd like. Now I'm ready to send this image to, in this case, Analog Efex Pro. And so, I'll go to the menu and choose Photo, followed by Edit In, and then chose the application, in this case Analog Efex Pro, which is part of the Nik Collection from Google, that I would like to process this image in. I could chose from any of the available applications that are part of the Nik Collection.
I'm just using Analog Efex Pro to apply an older look for this particular image, but the point is that we can decide which of the applications in the Nik Collection we want to use and then choose the preset for that application from the Edit in submenu. So, I'll go ahead and choose Analog Efex Pro from the menu. Lightroom will ask me how I want to process this image, and the only available option is to edit a copy with Lightroom adjustments since it's a RAW capture. I'll go ahead and click the Edit button, and that photo will be processed by Lightroom and sent to Analog Efex Pro.
You might notice as that process is happening that a duplicate image has appeared on my film strip. That is the TIFF image that was created as a derivative based on my original RAW capture. Once the image is opened in Analog Efex Pro, I can of course make use of all the features within Analog Efex Pro in order to apply changes and appearance to my photo. The settings I have established here look kind of interesting for this photo, so we'll call that good enough. And then when I'm finished, I can simply save the result. So I might choose a different preset over on the left panel or apply a variety of different changes to the settings over on the right panel.
For now, we'll just leave these settings as they are and I'll finish the process here by clicking the Save button down at the bottom right of the Analog Efex Pro dialog. That image will be processed then. All of the settings will be finalized for that derivative image, again, that TIFF image that I'm creating as part of this process. As soon as processing is complete, you can see that the resulting image, a TIFF image, is now included in my Lightroom catalog right next to the original RAW capture that I used as the basis of that adjustment.
You'll notice that we have an indication of 2 of 2 on the original RAW image, and if I mouse over the TIFF image we created, you'll see 1 of 2 there. That's an indication that those images are in a stack. I can click that little banner in order to collapse the stack so that for all intents and purposes, it's like I have only one image representing this particular photo. Of course, there are two, my original RAW plus the derivative TIFF image, and I can expand the stack at any time, but presumably, I applied this adjustment to create what I consider to be the final version of the image.
And so, I may not need to have access to the original RAW, or at least in most cases, I might not need to have access to the RAW capture. And so this can be very convenient, both in terms of being able to find the original RAW or the derivative TIFF image very easily, but perhaps more importantly, being able to consolidate those images to help keep my film strip display a little bit more tidy. At this point of course, I can continue managing this derivative image within my Lightroom catalog. I can apply fine tuning adjustments in the Develop module if I'd like and of course, i can share this image in a wide variety of ways using the options that are available in Lightroom
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