Are We Saying Goodbye to NIK?
I'm sure some of you, if not all of you, have heard about the imminent death of one of my favorite Photoshop and Lightroom Plugins...NIK. Yes, it's true, NIK is not going to be updated...ever...like never again...I mean really not at all...not ever. It's going the way of the Dodo! Some folks have already reported it being "glitchy" while others have told me that it has stopped working altogether on their systems.
I've been exploring other software options to possibly replace some of my favorite tools in NIK's Color Efex Pro4. I have Topaz Black and White Effects which I will likely do my b/w work since Silver Efex will cease to work one day...but Color Efex was my "go-to" plug-in. I used it all the time...for practically every image.
While it may not "have it all", there is a partial replacement for Color Efex, and that is Luminar by Macphun. A few of the creative folks at NIK are now working with Macphun and some of the technology is spilling over, albeit with a new face.
Luminar has a good number of the filters that Color Efex had but with different names for those filters. Soft Focus is similar to NIK's Glamour Glow and "Golden Hour" is just like Nik's Skylight Filter for instance. Playing with the filters will show you the effects and some are pretty darn impressive. The new AI filter is nothing short of amazing. It's artificial intelligence analyzes the entire photo and with a push of a single slider, it can dramatically change an image.
Here is an image of the basic interface. In case you're curious, this is a zoom blur of a peacock feather which is why it looks a little...odd.
As you can see, the interface is pretty sleek and not at all intimidating.
Here is an image of the interface with one of the many preset lists available to you. The presets are really great for people wanting a "quick fix" to an image without getting too involved. Hey...not all of us want to spend hours on a photo...sometimes we just want it to look better and send it out to our friends. This is a wonderful program for beginners, intermediate, and advanced photo editors.
It has a choice of workspaces with pre-determined filters that would most often be used for that type of image. For example, there's a "landscape" workspace which brings up filters such as hue/sat, color temp, tone, clarity, foliage, golden hour and more. You can make changes and save your own workspace that includes your most often used filters. It's kinda like "recipes" in Color Efex.
Remember that AI filter I mentioned, here are some before and after photos.
Here is a RAW photo from an HDR set and this is the under exposed image. I would either process this alone or combine it with another exposure to get a balanced image.
Here is the same image with NOTHING but the AI filter applied...this time at about 50%. It has analyzed the photo and made adjustments to color, exposure, contrast, and I honestly don't know what else. It's a mystery. But it's a cool mystery that does wonders!
Here is the same image with AI applied at 100%. Unlike saturation, contrast, vibrance, or Dehaze in Lightroom or Camera RAW, this filter seems to be able to be pushed quite far before the image starts to look "bad". I kinda like the 50% on this image or perhaps 75. 100 is pushing it a bit too much for my taste but each image will respond differently. I tried 50% on the peacock feather and it got over saturated. But honestly I have yet to see a single slider in any program make so many changes at once.
This program is currently only available for MAC but they're supposed to release a PC version by autumn. It's a plug-in for Lightroom and Photoshop as well as a stand alone program. Luminar is non-destructive and can batch process. It is not, however, an organizer like Lightroom. It can incorporate all of the other Macphun software tools you own and it works with layers and masking. You can work with textures in this program, blend different exposures, replace a sky, or simply make easy adjustments in record time. The main thing that is missing when considering it a "replacement" for Color Efex are control points. That technology has not been introduced in this software. If it is someday, it will likely turn into my "go to" plug-in when NIK stops working. I'm hoping I've got some time before that happens but in the meantime, this is a viable option.
There are links for the software at the bottom of any page on my web site as well as within this blog post. They're running a special right now for 75% off of a bundle that includes the software, 500 overlays, several e-books by Ian Plant and Andrew Gibson, preset packs, and more.
I don't often suggest specific software to folks as everybody has their own workflow and preferences but I've gotten a lot of questions lately about NIK and where to go if the plug-in stops working altogether. I thought if there was so much interest that I should share it with everybody.
I hope you all enjoy your day and I thank you for your support and encouragement.
Best of light to you all!
2017 Workshops are filling and I'm working on 2018 right now. Any special requests? I'm creating a couple new workshops to expand creativity that I'll offer in 2018. Stay tuned!