Not too long ago I stayed in a random hotel in a random downtown and took a picture out the window because the windows across the street were apparently curved and there was a sort of funhouse-mirror effect.

Buildings reflecting buildings

This is moderately processed, mostly to remove color from the nonreflective bits. I thought it might look good in B&W so I fiddled and fiddled, then remembered I’d taken advantage of working at Google to get a free copy of Silver Efex Pro; so I fired that up and here’s what I got. You might want to enlarge it.

Buildings reflecting buildings as rendered in black and white by Silver Efex Pro

The workflow is pretty simple. Lightroom makes it easy to edit a copy of any old picture in any old external program, so I do basic cropping in Lr, then send it off to Silver Efex. That program has a whole lot of controls and I haven’t taken time to learn them very well, but it’s got a couple dozen presets that were built by people with more visual insight than I’ll ever have, so usually I pick one and go with it. I guess I should have remembered which one this is. Anyhow, after I was done I laid on a teeny bit more Lightroom love.

Bits are free-ish so why not be non-judgmental and show you both? I like one of these a lot better than the other, but I wouldn’t expect consensus on the question.

Frankly, I have no idea how selling copies of Silver Efex for $149 fits into Google’s business model, but I sure hope we keep doing it. Because B&W is fun, and B&W on steroids is more fun.


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From: John Cowan (Jan 05 2014, at 08:36)

There's a lot of suspicion out there that Google will turn the Nik collection into some sort of Google+ front end, or that it will become cloud-based, or in some other way align with Google's current perceived business model. Cutting the price by a factor of four, without going so far as to make it free, certainly suggests that it is a loss leader — but for what?


From: Ruben Orduz (Jan 05 2014, at 10:50)

I share the same concern as John above. I think it's a matter of time until it becomes either an entirely cloud-based app or else a cloud tethered app. From the outside it looks as if most development for new versions of Nik has stopped so wouldn't be surprised sooner or later it's put in "sunset" mode and eventually phased out.


From: Alex Waterhouse-Hayward (Jan 05 2014, at 13:08)

I have an 8 or 9 year-old Photoshop. One of the correction tools is called Shadow/Highlight. There is a more complicated option available which is the one I use. If you work with it you will get the same results on those clouds.


From: James Campbell (Jan 11 2014, at 17:14)

I really like the color one a lot better.


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