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Today, I thought I would use the three images that I added to my Aviation Portfolio to illustrate my three favorite methods to post process aviation photos. All three of these methods utilize plugins from Nik Software. The two color methods I have made custom recipes for in Color Efex Pro4. The B&W process is close enough to one of the presets, that I just go with it.

We’ll start with this image of a B-17G.

Collings' Foundation B17G Flying Fortress, Nine O Nine. (Rick A. Brown)

This photograph uses a recipe that includes Pro Contrast, Detail Extractor and Darken/Lighten Center. The first filter applied is the Pro Contrast and here I use the Dynamic Contrast preset included with the plugin. Next Detail Extractor is applied with the default preset, I use control points to make sure that it is only applied to the aircraft itself. Finally, I apply the Darken/Lighten Center filter with the default preset. I use the place center button to assure that it is precisely where it looks best.

This is the starting point for this image.

 (Rick A. Brown)

Next let’s discuss my B&W method.

Collings' Foundation TP51C Mustang Betty Jane. (Rick A. Brown)

Here I use Silver Efex Pro2. This is one of the greatest plugins anywhere in my opinion. I start with the High Structure – harsh preset and then do some tweaking, usually concentrating on using one of the color filters. The idea with a polished aluminum aircraft is to enhance that sheen on the plane. Then I applied the lowest level of Sepia toning and applied a vignette – very slight. This is just about the simplest of these three methods.

Here is the before image.

 (Rick A. Brown)

Finally, there’s my Bleach Bypass method.

Collings' Foundation B24J Liberator, Witchcraft. (Rick A. Brown)

This recipe starts with the Bleach Bypass filter, then applies the Detail Extractor, and finally the Darken/Lighten Center. I start with the Bleach Bypass filter with the default preset. I control the contrast carefully here to make sure shadow detail is retained, I want the shadows pretty dark, but not all the way to black. Next, I apply the Detail Extractor on the default preset and like before, use control points to make sure it is only applied to the aircraft. Detail Extractor and Bleach Bypass together really makes out of focus foliage take on an appearance I don’t like much, but obviously I love the look on the aircraft. Finally, I apply the Darken/Lighten Center and as before place the center precisely.

Here is the before image.

 (Rick A. Brown)

Take a look at the rest of my Collings Foundation photos.