This is part of a series covering my absolute favorite piece of software – Color Efex Pro 3 by Nik Software. I use it daily and on every image. It’s essential to my image processing.
CEP3 contains over 50 filters. Details and a free trial download are available at the Nik site above.
This series emphasizes the results obtained from each filter (that’s 50+ posts 😉 coming up) without going into all of details of how the filter is used. Again, refer to the Nik site for those details. I’ll show before and after comparisons plus a few observations when appropriate.
Part 2 – Tonal Contrast
Today’s Filter – White Neutralizer
Place in editing workflow – Early!! – like the very first step
Purpose – Ensure that neutral colors (white, black and all shades of gray) have no color cast. Neutral color errors, uncorrected at the start, will affect all of your subsequent adjustments.
I went out this morning and made these test images.
The 1st was captured with the camera white balance set correctly (set to cloudy, it was sprinkling)
The 2nd had the camera WB set to incandescent
Correcting the blue cast by using CEP3’s White Neutralizer Filter is a simple 30 second adjustment as shown in the following screen captures. Click any image to enlarge it and see the details.
The 1st capture shows below shows the CEP3 WN filter in the right column (the blank check box to the right of the filter name means that it’s turned off – to illustrate the “BEFORE” adjustment view)
I am showing the CEP3 plug-in for Capture NX2, but it is basically the same in any of the other CEP3 host programs – Photoshop, Aperture & Lightroom.
Besides, our focus is on the results and not the “details of how “
The histogram shows that at the far right, where pure white would be, there’s nothing but blue (hard to see but the right “wall” is blue) when it should contain roughly equal amounts of all three colors R, G & B
The watch point shows the values of the R/G/B component colors at the point where I placed the cursor on the flower in the image above (upper left quadrant). Here we see, in another form, the same story told by the histogram with the blue component of the white daisy equal to 255 (its max possible value), while the green is 197 and the red 149. If WB were set correctly the neutrally colored daisy should have all three R/G/B values nearly equal and in the 230-250 range depending on the shading).
The adjustment to fix the problem consists of –
- Selecting CEP3’s White Neutralizer filter
- Clicking the eye dropper on a neutral spot (doesn’t have to be white – black is just as neutral as white, as are any of the 254 shades of gray in between B&W)
- Adjusting the two control sliders (while setting a watch point and checking its values as you do the adjustments)
- Typically 30 seconds or less
Watch point values under the cursor below changed from a bluish 167/217/255 to a correct value of 242/245/247. The average (brightness) increased from a drab 206 to a brighter 244 (pure white, i.e. blown out, is 255)
The right end of the histogram is no longer filled with just blue
The CEP3 White Neutralization filter is both simple and effective
Correcting WB very early in the editing workflow is essential
Watch points can help you check for unwanted color casts
There are many ways to make color neutrality corrections. Almost all programs have at least one – in my NX2/CEP3 setup I can think of four right off the top of my head.
Although the above example was done using a jpeg file, your chances of success are always better when starting with RAW
Full Disclosure – I am a beta tester for Nik (and a fan of most Nik products). Aside – I am honest to a fault and will not hide the truth (example – I’ve yet to fully endorse Nik’s HDR Efex Pro and have documented why in previous posts) and, so, you can trust my reviews.