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 (Rick A. Brown)

Today, I thought I’d tell you a bit about the importance of Nik Software plugins, to my new portrait portfolio.

Nik plugins played a part in every one of the images in this portfolio, to varying degrees. For example the image above had a great amount of Nik plugin work involved. To begin with the background image was shot as a three image HDR and merged in HDR Efex Pro and tone-mapped to create a grungy, exaggerated detail look. Then the portrait image was shot in the studio with gridded lights behind and to the side of the subject and a beauty dish above and slightly ahead. Then the image was imported into Lightroom 4 and the shadows were brought up a lot, the highlights got taken down almost as much and the clarity got around a positive 40. Then both images were imported into Photoshop CS5 and composited according to the techniques found in Matt Klaskowski’s Photoshop Compositing Secrets. At this point, I used Color Efex Pro 4, and applied Tonal Contrast to the portrait to give it a similar grungy look to the background and Bleach Bypass was applied to the entire thing to help them look like one image and desaturate the image as well.

 (Rick A. Brown)

Then there’s an image like this one, where Nik plugins received much less of a workout, but I still used Color Efex Pro 4 for the Lighten/Darken Center filter. I felt the image needed a vignette, and this produced what I felt was the best looking one of the various methods I had available to me.

Megan Points playing cello (Rick A. Brown)

Finally, there’s an image like this one. The initial use of Nik plugins was just the Lighten/Darken Center filter, but then I moved it into Silver Efex Pro 2 and processed it using the Low Key 1 preset  and toned it with the copper toner.

In general, you can see that I think the Nik plugins are very valuable. I am eager to use them in this sort of imagery.