A blessing or a curse?
So far I haven’t really made up my mind about the role and usefulness of ‘creative filters’ in post-processing. Sure, they are my go-to tools for B&W conversions and HDR processing, and I will use them without hesitation as long as their effect on the final image is subtle and seemingly non-existent. Based on that same logic, I will rarely include Photoshop in my workflow, except for ‘mandatory surgery’: I prefer staying within the capabilities and confines of Lightroom and its basic toolset.
And yet, having installed a fair selection of plug-ins for some time now, I find myself revisiting my original position. Photomatix Pro has become my workhorse for photorealistic HDR images, and Nik Software’s excellent suite serves me well for more artistic versions and interpretations.
For creative experimentation, I would have a hard time doing without Nik’s ‘Efex Pro’ triplet. It has become so easy to see a fast preview of any effect, thanks to the many built-in presets, and there’s ample sliders to tweak the processes to your personal liking. And then the luxury of the almighty U Points!
There’s one drawback in taking this route. Potentially, a big one. It is so easy and alluring to take an otherwise bland, uninspired shot and transform it into something ‘worth looking at’. Indeed, a trendy effect may make the picture look more interesting – at least to its author - than content or composition deserve. I note the same pitfall in so many iPhone snaps that litter Twitter and Facebook: often empty shells but coming in a nice gift wrapper.
On the other hand, creatively fooling around makes you wonder why an skipped discarded at first suddenly looks more promising, even takes on a new personality. Perhaps that brings us to a better look into composition and the use of light and color. And thereby teaches us a thing or two to make our next pictures a tad better. What do you think?
Gear notes: Fujifilm X100 – Silver Efex pro, Color Efex Pro, HDR Efex Pro
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