Monday, August 25, 2014

Zombies at San Diego Comic Con - Nik Analog Efex Pro 2 Review

Instagram. Hipsters. Passé. Overdone. Bad photography.   These words are commonly used to describe vintage film filters. I’ve been on several forums where I hear photographers complaining about people stealing their photographs and destroying their work by applying said filters. While I will be the first to say I am guilty of using these words in the past and empathize for other photographers, I get the appeal of manipulating photographs to give it a retro flare. But I feel there is a time and place for it. Some think weddings or portraiture is the perfect use. As for me, filters are best used on ZOMBIES. 

Vintage Camera filter with scratch marks

I have had the opportunity to use VSCO’s film plugins in the past and never really liked it because I intuitively could not tell what it meant to apply a Kodak Filter vs. a Fuji filter. The descriptions were not very telling of the kind of output I would get besides whether it is cool (blue-ish) or warm (orange-ish) in tone. I am sure with enough practice and exposure to these presets I would get a better idea, but given my workflow hardly ever requires the need for VSCO presets I doubt I will get accustomed to it.

I have been using Nik software plugins for the last couple of years primarily for Silver Efex Pro (B&W conversion tool) and occasionally their HDR and colorizing tools.  I bought the Nik bundle back when they were selling it for around $100. If you have ever used a Google Plus photo editor, a non-destructive web-based photo editor (this is revolutionary and Facebook needs to get with the times), then you will know the Nik brand since Google acquired them.  Well, in this bundle is possibly the best vintage plugin I have ever used and I neglected it for over 2 years - Analog Efex Pro2 

Double exposure shot
I had recently run across Night of the Living Dead, George Romero’s somewhat campy, zombie classic, and got inspired to edit some of my San Diego Comic Con undead cosplay images in black & white. Accidently clicking on Analog Efex Pro 2 instead of Silver Efex Pro, I stumbled upon the world of vintage presets/filters and simply got lost in the creative process. My philosophy as of late (and is bound to change) is that an image should stand on it’s on and shouldn’t need heavy editing to be considered good. Needless to say, that philosophy was thrown right out of the door with this particular post since all of the images here are processed with an extremely heavy hand. 

The wetplate camera profile

What I really like most about this particular software is that it is highly intuitive. When the program opens, you are given the option to select a camera profile as the starting point of your editing. I have very limited knowledge of film cameras, besides my old point and shoot, but I was able to decipher the look I would get just by the title of the profile. You can then change the hue, add lens flare, include retrotastic borders, introduce degradation in the form of scratches or dust spots and even create a triptych. One of the greatest strengths of the Nik Suite is the control points, which are used to selective adjust regions of your image. When you have completed the transformation, the files are thrown back to your Lightroom library for further editing or fine tuning. 

This image was my inspiration for the rest of the set. This reminded me most of the zombies from George Romero's films

My first Triptych 

The best part of this program is that it's extremely easy to use, more so than lightroom. In the event you want to learn more about the plugin, you can watch short video introducing Analog Efex Pro 2 below. I would love to hear what you think and please feel free to share your photos with me.

So say we all,

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