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This course guides you through the features and options available for producing creative black-and-white interpretations of your photos in Silver Efex Pro 2, part of the Nik Collection from Google. Author Tim Grey takes a look at all the darkroom-inspired controls, including selective adjustments, film effects, color toning, vignettes, and borders.
This course was created by Tim Grey. We are honored to host this training in our library.
The primary adjustments that effect overall tonality for the entire image are found in the Global Adjustment section on the right panel in Silver Effects Pro. At first glance these adjustments look pretty straightforward. We have a Brightness slider, a Contrast slider, a Structure slider and a couple of sliders under the heading of Tonality Protection. Let's take a look at these basic options. Brightness, of course, allows you to increase or decrease the overall brightness of the image. So dragging the slider to the right will brighten the image, dragging the slider to the left will darken the image.
If you want to reset the adjustment you can simply double click an that slider handle and that will reset it to its default value, in this case a 0% value. That same basic capability applies to all of the sliders within Silver Effects Pro. The Contrast slider, simply enough, increases contrast when you drag to the right and decreases contrast when you drag to the left. The Structure slider is essentially similar to a sharpening type of effect. You could think of it as a localized contrast enhancement. In other words, sort of like sharpening but covering a broader area.
If you drag the Structure slider over toward the right, the image will essentially will get a little more detailed and a little bit more clear. If you drag it over toward the left, the image will start to look a little bit more hazy. Finally, we have Tonality Protection. I'll go ahead and increase contrast significantly in order to blow out the highlight detail and block up the shadow detail, and then we can take a look at the Tonality Protection sliders for shadows and highlights. If we drag the Shadow slider over towards the right, we're essentially attempting to recover detail in the darkest areas of the photo.
You'll notice that when we increase the value for shadows those dark areas in the photo do look a little bit flat but at least we have more detail in those areas. The Highlight slider applies the same basic recovery of detail only for the highlight values in the image. So you'll notice with the slider at the far left, we've lost fair amount of highlight detail and as I drag toward the right, more of that detail gets protected, it's essentially being recovered in the image. In addition to these basic options though, you can also refine the effect of brightness, contrast and structure with some additional controls.
You can access those controls by clicking on the triangle to the left of Brightness, Contrast, and Structure. In the case of Brightness, you'll see that we can adjust overall brightness individually for the highlights, the midtones, and the shadows. So I can darken just the bright areas of the image or brighten those areas by dragging left to right, I can adjust the overall brightness of midtones by dragging that slider left to right, and I can adjust the brightness of the shadows independently as well. We can also take advantage of the dynamic brightness option.
This is essentially an intelligent approach to adjusting brightness. The image is evaluated and as you increase brightness, contrast is maintained and, in fact, enhanced throughout the image to improve overall appearance. And the same basic process happens in reverse when you reduce the value for dynamic brightness, so think of dynamic brightness as an intelligent approach to adjusting brightness in the image. Generally speaking of course, a relatively subtle adjustment is going to work best, but that said, in many cases you can get away with a significant adjustment to dynamic brightness.
I'll go ahead and reset these controls so that we get the image back to its original starting point, essentially, at least as far as brightness is concerned. And then I'll reset Contrast and we can take a look at the more detailed options available for Contrast. I'll go ahead and increase Contrast just a little bit. And then we have the option to brighten up the brightest areas of the image with Amplify Whites or to darken up the darkest areas of the image with Amplify Blacks. In other words, you're enhancing overall contrast, but in a more targeted way.
We also have the Soft Contrast slider which is an intelligent approach to adjusting contrast. As we increase the value for soft contrast the contrast in the image is adjusted but in an intelligent way. The image is being analyzed and compensated for based on specific tonal values throughout the image. And of course we can reduce contrast in the same way by reducing the value for soft contrast. In general, you'll find that the Contrast slider tends to be a little bit harsh in terms of the effect on the image where as the Soft Contrast slider produces a more subtle effect.
Finally, we have the detailed controls for structure. I'll go ahead and expand to reveal those options. And here we can adjust structure for the highlights, midtones and shadows independent of each other. So for example, I can focus my structure enhancement on just the midtone values in the image. I can also apply fine structure. This essentially is structure at a smaller scale. So instead of having that structure or that sort of sharpening type of effect happening over a relatively large area in the image, we can focus it on a relatively small area of the image, essentially getting down to the pixel level.
That creates a little bit more of a sharpening type of effect in the image or a softening effect if we move the slider over toward the left. So while the basic adjustments available in the Global Adjustments section of the right panel seem very simple at first, the additional fine-tuning controls really add a lot of control that you can exercise over your image.
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