Friday, July 1, 2011

One Hundred Years Ago In Photoshop

Okay, Adobe Photoshop has only been around for twenty years and the CS5 version for somewhere a year.  I noticed that Nik Software has Silver Effects Pro 2 on sale for $99.00 through July 5th.  They have several offers that expire between July 5th and 15th.  Check them out here.  In the past I've talked about my aversion to using plug-ins, preferring to figure out how to do the equivalent technique in CS5 itself.  The thought is that teaching yourself how to do something in Photoshop gets you to understand how CS5 works.  There's is nothing that a plug-in can do that can't be done directly in Photoshop.  Nik Software, OnOne Software , and several other plug-in suppliers are top notch companies that were started by very clever Photoshop users who found a better way to do something.  What a plug-in does is automate the set of steps that will get you to a specific look on your image.  There's absolutely nothing wrong with that.  They tend to take the pain out of getting to "that look".  The big name plug-in companies put an easy to use GUI on their set of plug-ins to allow the user to have a good experience.  They are to be commended for making their products useable by the masses.  I downloaded Nik Software's fourteen day trial of Silver Effects Pro 2 the other day.  Today's image comes from playing with it.  To get my impressions about it, hit the "read more".

General impression?  Really nice.  Very slick set of presets, lots of controls to modify what the presets give you and a fun interface that's easy to figure out.  So, what's the big deal?  There's been a hundred reviews of Silver Effects Pro 2 and they'll all complimentary about the product. 
Could I have come up with today's image in Photoshop alone?  Sure!  I can picture in my mind the steps I'd need to do to get to the exact same spot.  Desaturate the image, apply a negative vignette, up the contrast, etc., etc.  Is today's image what came out of the plug-in?  Nope.  It was a great starting point to get the image to what you see.  The Nik plug-ins work with either Photoshop, Lightroom or Aperture.  In the case of today's image the route taken was from Lightroom 3 to Nik Silver Effects Pro 2 demo , back to LR3 and then to CS5.  As I've said, I was playing around with the fourteen day demo of the plug-in, so more may have been able to be done in SEP2 (is that the right shortcut for Silver Effects Pro 2?).
I'll play around with it more between now and the 5th.  I won't bother going out the entire fourteen days of the demo period because the sale offer ends on the 5th. 
I tend to think of plug-ins as being sort of like the Program or Auto modes on some cameras.  They're very useful if you know what's going on behind the number crunching and understand what you can do to override what the camera (or plug-in) suggests.  Perhaps it's because I'm getting busier (or older), but I'm leaning toward letting plug-ins take some of the load off.  The really smart folks at Nik, OnOne, and others can save me time and time equates to money.  I figure if the bigtime Photoshop users use plug-ins and they really understand what the plug-in is doing, who am I to be a backward ludite.  Congratulations to all who make work easier by producing first class plug-ins.