Andromeda pioneered Photoshop filters for photographic
effects: reflections, rainbows, motion, etc. But the offering
from The TECHnik Group is nothing short of amazing.
nik Color Efex Pro! is a set of 55 digital filters,
many of which work like their conventional filter counterparts
and then some. The late Ansel Adams was an advocate of filters
for his dramatic black and white skies and his shimmering forests.
We learned from Adams that filters of yellow, orange or red could
progressively darken skies, that a green filter could bring out
details in the foliage of deep woods.
Unfortunately, we also learned that a yellow filter
used on color film created a jaundiced yellowish-looking photo.
nik's Contrast filters work just like their conventional
counterparts except they work on color images without altering
the other colors in the photo. For instance, the Contrast Red
filter creates dramatic dark blue skies and lightens reddish hues
without altering other colors in the image.
The image on left is directly from my camera. Middle
image shows polarizing effect. Image on right shows polarizer
plus contrast red which results in noise.
Even more amazing is the Polarizing filter, something
previously though impossible by digital photographers. This one
works almost like its glass cousin by appearing to darken skies
and water surfaces… plus it is not dependent upon the angle
of the light source. However, it does not remove reflections and
glare like a real front-of-lens polarizer. Still, it's a wonderfully
useful tool for creating natural looking polarized effects.
The nik Color Efex Pro! Sunshine filter does the
impossible: transforming a gloomy, overcast day into one filled
with warm, natural-looking sunlight. The image at the top of this
column illustrates the difference with the inset photo being the
original rainy day photo and the larger showing the sunshine effect.
All of these filters can be used in mixed combination
with some very unusual results, often the addition of unwanted
noise. nik Color Efex Pro! handles RGB, CMYK, LAB and grayscale
images at $299.95. An RGB-only version is available fro $139.95.
More detail is available from http://www.tech-nik.com
or read my product review in the special Spring Edition of Photoshop
A Two-Bit Macro Solution
Digital photography demands experimentation. We
digital photographers can mess around with ideas that film photographer
would be loath to was the rest of the roll on. We can place our
cameras in weird positions and use the self-timer to try images
that conventional photographers would never even think about.
Here's a perfect example from reader Chris Parrish of Temple,
"I was playing around with my (Nikon} 990 this
morning and came across a neat trick for doing Macro shots of
very small objects! Actually, I had just finished taking a nice
walk to enjoy the sunshine and take some pictures and had sat
down at my computer to check out my catch of the day. While I
was waiting for it to boot up I get bored so I'm fiddling with
stuff on my desk. Well, I had an empty 35mm film canister (The
semi-opaque white ones that Kodak film comes in) sitting there
and it occurred to me that the mouth of the canister appeared
to be close to the same size as the lens on my 990!
"Sure enough, it slid right on with a slight
interference fit, just right! The material that the cannister
is made of makes a perfect "soft box" when lit from
outside. Also, when you put the film cannister on a flat surface
with the lens facing down, the object that you are shooting is
just about as close to being parallel to the lens as you could
get. This trick also eliminates the worry of camera shake during
slower macro shots."
If your camera's lens is bigger than a film canister,
I would suggest checking out a sporting goods store for open top
Nalgene containers. They come in a variety of sizes, just as if
they were designed for various digital lenses and macro capabilities.
Another dumb digital trick...
If your camera has a front mounted flash and you
want to use an inexpensive slave strobe for fill or bounce light,
you may find the on-camera flash overpowering the subject. Try
playing around with a piece of white paper over the flash to diminish
its already low power. Or some have used a piece of opaque tape
(photographers' black masking tape) to obscure part of the flash
It may take a little experimenting to cut down the
direct flash and still have enough light to fire the slave.