Almost everything that I’ll cover in this upcoming comprehensive series of digital image post processing (PP) will be illustrated primarily using Capture NX2 together with the Nik Software Color Efex Pro (CEP) plug-in for NX2. If you don’t use this software, please don’t go away – understanding the “what” of the steps is the key take-away message of the post and not the “how”. You need to know, for example, what White Balance adjustments are for and where they fit in the overall process – the “how” of the adjustment will vary from program to program and is (should be) a simple mechanical step that is (should be) easy to learn and execute. The same can be said of highlight/shadow recovery and tonal/color adjustments. Follow the “what” story here and take it to your PP program of choice and explore the “how” there – and if the “what” isn’t there (or isn’t obvious) or the “how” is too complicated you have an additional “take-away” from this series. 😉
Although NX2’s RAW conversion is only for Nikon RAW files, NX2 also is highly useful on JPEG/TIFF files regardless of their origin. In later posts, I’ll illustrate this by showing how the steps and results compare when starting with the same image – one shot in RAW and the other in JPEG. For now, however, stick with me and take a look at the “what” of PP. You may come away with a few ideas and, maybe, some of the Photoshop (PS) folks may switch – if not switch then at least consider the Nik Viveza plug-in for PS that provides NX2’s functionality and features and the CEP PS plug-in as well. Two notes –
- I’ve tried both NX2 with the CEP plug-in as well as PS with the Viveza and CEP plug-ins. Although the step-by-step results are the same (apart from the RAW conversion) there is no contest when it comes to workflow – doing the same set of adjustment steps is much easier & flexible in NX2 (even the Nik project manager agrees – even though NX is a Nikon program & his profit margin is higher if you buy Viveza 😉 ).
- I have no financial interest in any company – and certainly not Nik, Adobe, et. al. but I am a beta tester for Nik Software. This may or may not bias my opinions – Nik will tell you that I am often their most vociferous critic in their beta forum – but it makes my experience level with what I say fairly high. I have used NX and CEP in every incarnation over the past 4+ years, including some betas that trust me you wouldn’t want to see, but what they taught was educational.
In later posts that examine the nitty-gritty of specific adjustment steps, highlight/shadow recovery for example, I will try to show comparisons among various techniques within a specific program as well as comparisons between different programs. Bear with me until we get there – it’s a long story with lots of characters and a twisted plot.