Nik Silver Efex Pro

Many photographers, such as myself, initially learned on 35mm black and white film.  Black and white still holds a special place in my heart.  Although modern dSLRs take color pictures by default,  color pictures can be converted to black and white by any number of techniques.  Whether you choose to do in camera conversion or conversion in software in post, all that inevitably matters is that you get the look you want.  I choose to take the software conversion route.  The advantage of converting in post is whether you take the image intending to be black and white or simply stumble on it in post as a result of playing around, you always have the original color image if you want it.  Awhile ago I purchased the Nik Software Complete Collection which is a plug in collection for Lightroom, Aperture, and Photoshop.  One of the included plug ins is Silver Efex Pro, a black and white conversion tool.  I have been playing around with it more and I think its pretty fantastic.  You have a lot of control over the look of your conversion, from film stock emulation to tone curve control to the hue of the paper.  Lots of control can be kinda intimidating but it's a good thing in the end.  When we're talking "shades of gray", more subtle changes are often needed to get the look you want or to make your image stand out.  Subtle changes require finer control over the parameters of your image that you manipulate.   Below are some examples that I played around with tonight for your enjoyment.  If you would like to try out Silver Efex Pro, trial software downloads can be found at Nik Softwares website here.  The current software version is Silver Efex Pro 2.0, the examples below were created in 1.0. Camera: Nikon D7000

Lens: Nikon AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED


-pictures taken as .NEF sRGB and converted to .DNG using Adobe DNG converter

-.DNG files imported into Adobe Lightroom v2.7

-initial contrast/exposure/hue/cropping performed in Lightoom

-black and white conversion and processing done with Nik Silver Efex Pro 1.0 Lightroom Plug-in

-watermark created with Adobe Illustrator CS5 and added to picture as smart object in Adobe Photoshop CS5

D7000 + Lightroom 2 = ANNOYING

Awhile back I got a Nikon D7000 as a backup camera.  I'm still getting to know it, so the jury is still out on my overall thoughts of the camera.  I have just now started to try and play around with the some of the photos from the D7000 and have run into some problems worth sharing.  For photo management, I currently use Adobe's Lightroom 2 (version 2.7 to be exact).  Lightroom 2 uses Adobe Camera Raw version 5.7 (at least my copy) as it's RAW conversion engine.  Well, it turns out .NEF files from the D7000 (.NEF files are Nikon's RAW image format) cannot be read with Lightroom 2 and ACR 5.7.  You need ACR 6.3.  Lightroom 2 can't use ACR 6.3.  This means that Lightroom 2 cannot natively import .NEF files from the D7000 and you need Lightroom v3.3 for this native functionality.  Annoying.  If you don't feel like upgrading or buying Lightroom 3 yet, thankfully there is a workaround.  The .NEF D7000 files can be converted to .DNG files using Adobe's DNG conversion tool and then imported into Lightroom 2 as .DNG files.  Just tried it out and it worked, but is incredibly annoying that it appears Adobe is no longer supporting Lightroom 2.  Maybe they made an announcement about this, maybe I'm flat wrong.  Either way Lightroom 2 with ACR 5.7 will not import D7000 .NEFs and you must add another step (.NEF -> .DNG conversion) to your workflow in order to work with D7000 RAW files in Lightroom 2.