Anything Photoshop or Photography

Photoshop Filter


Image of a horse in St. Augustine, Florida using Nik Analog Efex Pro2NIK has updated Analog Efex Pro to the 2 version and kept it free for all Nik collection owners. I am loving the results already. This easy to use plug-in is now even better!

The New Stuff: Nik has added several 6 new cameras called Tool Combinations – B&W, Color Cast, Motion, Subtle Bokeh, Double Exposure, and Multilens – each with presets. The biggest improvement is the addition of control points. The control point sliders for the Basic Adjustments section includes all 4 sliders for easy localized adjustments. Light Leaks, Dirt & Scratches and Photo Plate all have Control Points with a strength slider so the effect can be removed from certain object or areas. Motion Blur has an interesting item called Add Blur Point that allows you to set the angle of the blur and the strength by dragging the blue dot around or using sliders, and several points can be added. Double Exposure is another interesting filter – can either just click in your image and you get a square that superimposes your image on the original. By dragging out the corners of the square, the scale can be change and hovering near a side of the square, the rotation can be changed on the superimposed image.  You can also add your own image to superimpose – some really creative possibilities with this one. One of my favorite new features is the Multilens which allows you to divide your image into various different configurations (see last image)! The Lens Distortion Tool has a new Defocus slider which can be used to shift the image out of focus. The Bokeh Tool now contains both the elliptical style and a new linear style which acts like a Tilt Shift filter. There is now an “I’m Feeling Lucky” preset at the end of each Tool Combination – when clicked it completely randomizes all the preset filter settings from the selected Tool Combination. This is different from the Vary button at bottom of the right panel which makes just subtle changes to only the settings of the individual filter that is open (hold SHIFT while clicking to get greater variation). More choices are in the Dust and Lint styles. In the Film Type section all the styles have names which is helpful and two new groups, B&W Neutral with 15 styles and B&W Toned with 12 styles, have been added. Frames now has a very handy Scale slider and added 10 new styles to the Lightbox frame choice. I think that about covers it – a pretty big update!

The horse image was taken in St. Augustine, Florida on a recent beautiful day! First applied Topaz (see Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) Detail 3’s Soft Dreamy preset on the background before taking the image into the updated Nik Analog Efex Pro2 – both are favorite plug-ins I use all the time. I wanted to show what a nice effect you can get without actually making the image look too vintage. Three control points were set for the Basic Adjustments section which included the Detail Extractor slider. Individual control points can be set throughout the image, just like in the Nik Color Efex Pro and Silver Efex Pro plug-ins – and when the layer is converted to a Smart Object before entering the plug-in, the control points are saved and can be adjusted later. Got to love this plug-in! Four control point in Light Leaks were added – only the texture strength can be adjusted and you cannot add a different light leak to the image, but it is still better to have the localized option. For this image a Lens Vignette, Film Type, and Levels & Curves were also selected. A New Layer was placed on top and the Sharpen Tool was used to just sharpen up the horse face and details. Last step involved adding my free Thin Double-Edges layer style – sampling colors from the image for the border.

Image of a roller coaster at Universal Studios-Orlando with Nik Analog Efex Pro 2 appliedThis roller coaster image was actually very much in-focus but I really liked the effect I got from using the Analog Efex Pro 2 update. This wonderful roller coaster at Universal Studios-Orlando is called Dragon Challenge Roller Coaster (for You Tube Video click here). The photo used Basic Adjustments, Bokeh to add some background blur, Motion Blur and two control points were added for more blur on the left track, and Direction Blur applied on the roller coaster, Light Leak set to 54% Strength, a slight light Lens Vignette, and Film Type using the Nikko2 preset – slider set towards Faded.

Image of view from Castillo de San Marcos in St. AugustineThis image is a view of the Montanzas River (technically part of the Intracoastal Waterway or ICW) from Castillo de San Marcos National Monument in St. Augustine, Florida. The settings used were: the Basic Adjustments with a control point on the trees to sharpen and brighten them even more; Lens Distortion set all the way left to Pincushion; Bokeh with the new Tilt Shift style set vertically over the Palm Trees and using a Blur Strength of 22% for the rest of the image; Dirt & Scratches Organic style with Strength at 26% just to get some vintage look, and a control point on the trees so they are still the main area of focus; Lens Vignette to darken edges slightly; Film Type using the new B&W toned Mijet2 preset style; Frames with Scale at 76%; and Levels and Curves where a Luminosity curve was created. I do not believe there is any other plug-in that can give this type of vintage feel to a photo so easily and quickly.

Image of a beach in Hawaii using Nik Analog Efex Pro 2 multilens effectThis last image shows what the Multilens filter can do – I really liked the results. This is a Puako Bay beach on the Kohala Coast of the Big Island in Hawaii that has been split and enlarged in sections with different focal points. Very different result and it was easy to do with this plug-in. The filters used were Basic Adjustments, Light Leaks, Film Type, Multilens, Frames, and Levels & Curves. It really looks like a vintage postcard to me. Note that if the Multilens images look in the wrong order, just click in the section and drag the little square around to set it correctly. Drag corners to scale and click near edge of square to rotate – pretty simple to and and lots of fun!

I loved Nik Analog Efex Pro when it first came out and I totally love Nik Analog Efex Pro 2! If you like a touch of the vintage feel, and it is really popular right now, this plug-in will probably give you any look you like. It is definitely in my top 5 plug-ins. If you have the Nik collection already, it is a free upgrade – just download the trial and it will automatically be added to your software for you. Okay, now I must get back to working on some more vintage images!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Digital Lady Syd Reviews Nik Analog Efex Pro
Topaz ReStyle with Corel Painter & Nik Analog Efex Pro


Image of Chaudoin Hall at Stetson University The Adaptive Wide Angle Filter is one of those darn Photoshop filters that does not seem that useful until you really need it – and then you wonder how you ever got by without it. I often just do a crop and straighten and then if my lines are still “wonky,” I go into the Puppet Warp Tool to try and fix things up. In reality, it would have been much easier to just use this handy filter that Photoshop included in its CS6 edition to adjust your image using the lens distortion – and you do not even have to remember which lens you used because Photoshop finds it and sets it up for you. Bottom line here – don’t worry about all the technical sounding things – just use the filter to straight up your lines! It works and is pretty fast. That said, check out my basic steps which will get you through the post-processing steps to get good results.

The filter was actually designed to take the distortion out of fish eye or other wide angle lenses. I think this is why I didn’t use it much – I do not use my wide angle lens much and do not own a fish eye lens, but my 18-200 mm standard zoom lens was able to use this filter effectively for the building shot at the widest angle, 18 mm. The above image is of Chaudoin Hall at Stetson University and is a great example of how an image can really get straightened out with the Adaptive Wide Angle Filter. (The beautiful vintage colors came from running the image through Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link.) ReStyle and applying the Wedgewood Blue and Tan preset.) This building was very difficult to shoot since I could not stand back from it very much, but I really wanted the image for the historic feel. It may not be perfect, but it is much better than the original image. See below for the original image and a screenshot of the filter to help see how this filter works.

Basic Workflow For Using the Adaptive Wide Angle Filter

1. Using a tip by the wonderful Russell Brown, be sure not to check the Enable Lens Profile Correction in Adobe Camera Raw or Lightroom before opening in Photoshop. But do still check Remove Chromatic Aberration since wide angle lens often have some of this.

2. Convert the image to a Smart Object so that if an adjustment is needed, the settings are still available.

3. By default the top tool, the Constraint Tool, is selected for you to show Photoshop where the issues are. Click and drag out a green line – the line will bend as you move across the object. To remove the line created, just press ALT or Delete and click on the line and it will disappear. The line can be readjusted by clicking on the end and dragging it out longer or shorter. It can be dragged all the way off the image. The circle in the middle will let you adjust the angle of the line by moving the little round handles – I found this a little difficult to use. If you want the lines to be perfectly straight, as I did in the image above, hold down SHIFT key while click and dragging to get a perfectly straight line. Vertical lines will appear as yellow and horizontal lines will be red. If you want an already straightened line to be perfectly straight, right click on it and in the drop down choose what you want – Arbitrary just removes the curve.

4. Since this filter will by default cut off your image, adjust your Scale to get exactly what you want to show up in the image. Use the Move Tool to get around the image and line up the area you want to see exactly.

5. If the Scale is adjusted, after applying the filter, the area needs to be filled in. Either crop in or use the Edit -> Content Aware Fill command. If the image is a Smart Object, it must be applied or rasterized (right click on layer and select Rasterize from menu) to be able to use the Content-Aware Fill command. Use the Magic Wand Tool to select the outside transparent areas, then go to Select -> Modify -> Expand and put in 4 pixels to help Content Aware Fill work right. (Thank you Scott Kelby for the setting.) If the area is small, just use the Clone Stamp Tool to clean up.
Image of original Stetson Bldg without Adaptive Wide Angle Filter applied

Here is a screenshot of all the adjustments that were made to this image to get the windows, roof and bricks to line up right. If you look closely you can see the yellow and pinkish-red vertical lines. The scale was set to 89% since I wanted the little tree to be anchored in the photo and not be cut off in the middle.

Image of a screenshot using the Adaptive Wide Angle Filter

Images with no Metadata

If Photoshop has found the lens listed in its arsenal of lens, it will go immediately to the Auto button – the lens used will be listed down in the lower left corner. If there is no lens data, first flip through the Correction choices – sometimes one looks a lot better than the others. Then click on one end and then the other of something that needs to be straightened. Click in circle in the center of the line and it will bend the line so it fits. Usually this will fix the line. It can get a little tricky if not using a RAW file. When not using Auto Correction, the Focal Length slider and Crop Factor Slider (the amount sticks to the setting from the last image that used it, so reset to 1 and then adjust) are available that may help in fixing the image. To get a really good overview of how this filter works, check out Russell Brown’s A Detailed Look at Adaptive Wide Angle video that covers very thoroughly how to adjust images with no lens metadata. The shot below was taken with my phone of the glass ceiling at the Daytona Beach Airport and is an example of how to use this filter without a defined lens. Once again I used Topaz ReStyle – this time the Russet Toned Black and White preset – I think this may be the best plug-in filter for anyone doing creative work.

Image of reflections in the Daytona Beach Airport ceiling. Here is the screenshot of the image while using the filter. The final is quite different from where I was.

Screenshot of the Adaptive Wide Angle Filter

Other Good Info

A few more tidbits are discussed here about this filter that could be helpful. On the first image the windows were connected with the constraint lines going across the bricks in between. You do not always have to have perfectly vertical lines – I did for the building since that is what was needed, but there may be many cases you just need a little nudge. The Polygon Constraint Tool is used for quickly fixing something in a rectangular shape like a door or window – I have never tried this tool but it sounds like it would work.

Thinking back on it, the first image might have made a better image by shooting a couple portrait overlapping panorama shots. In fact, this is exactly what lots of people use this filter for – panoramas. There are some other creative possibilities that I have not explored that can be done with this filter. Some people have tried straightening lines that should not be straightened for a different look. Some people have used it on textures to get a special effect.

The bottom line is that next time you have a fairly complicated image to line up, check out the Adaptive Wide Angle Filter before going through a lot of steps and aggravation to get the look you want. It can be a very quick and handy tool to have in your collection of techniques……Digital Lady Syd


Image of a Golden Retriever lying on his back in the sunHappy New Year to everyone! Hope you have a wonderful year ahead and create some really spectacular images from your photos! Recently I have gotten interested in adding a painterly feel to my photos. Alien Skin’s Snap Art 3 has definitely been one of my favorite Photoshop plug-ins for doing this – not only for its ease of use, but also because it gives some great results quickly. (See my Digital Lady Syd Reviews Alien Skin Snap Art 3 blog). I was excited to hear the plug-in was being updated to version 4. Since I reviewed Snap Art 3 not that long ago and since it is the holidays, I am just going to do a fairly quick update for this version. Needless to say I love Snap Art 4. It is definitely worth a second look if you love the painterly effects like I do. To be honest, I do not see a whole lot of difference between the two versions except for the new interface, which looks more like Lightroom’s interface. The biggest change is that thumbnails are note created of your image showing all painting style variations in each artistic group – this makes it easy to choose a particular filter or effect for the image. Also the Background and Detail Masking Panels can be seen at the same time which is very helpful. F5 still resets the Background to some default settings, but I am not quite sure how this is determined. CTRL+R resets the Detail Mask so you can create new ones. The sliders and artistic effects are all the same as version 3.

The image above is of a beautiful golden retriever dog (similar to one I used to own) that was enjoying a nice sunny morning in Savannah, Georgia, in October. This is a great example of how subtly the plug-in can be applied, yet still get a nice painterly feel. In Lightroom, Trey Radcliff’s Dramatically Clean Chipmunk preset was applied before opening the image into Photoshop and the Snap Art 4 plug-in. I applied a preset I created from Snap Art 3’s Factory Default preset settings – still one of my favorites that is based upon an Oil Paint effect. To sharpen the details when using this filter, increase the Photorealism slider and decrease the Stroke Length slider. In this case, two Detail Masks were created to add back the detail to the dog’s fur and face. Pretty simply!
Image of a bloom from an Elephant Ear plant
I am finding that I like to use this plug-in with other Photoshop plug-ins to achieve the look I like. In this Bird of Paradise bloom pix from my yard, a 5-image HDR was processed using HDR Soft’s Merge to 32 Bit HDR and returned as a 32 bit TIFF file in Lightroom. Some localized sharpening and Trey Radcliff’s Gradient Folding Colors preset was applied before taking the it into Photoshop. The layer was duplicated and made into a Smart Object before opening in Snap Art 4 (it is very helpful to use a smart object so you can go back and adjust the detail masks if needed), which achieved this beautiful painterly result using the Abstract Pastel preset – two detail masks used on the bloom where a little more Color Variation and smaller Stroke Length were used. Next Nik’s Analog Efex Pro plug-in was applied using only three of its filters that just popped the color: Basic Adjustments with Saturation set to 85%, Lens Vignette with amount set to -29%, and Levels and Curves with just a little RGB and Luminosity tweaking and an amount set to 67%. By combining these different applications, a very beautiful image was achieved.
********Image of Victoria Station using Snap Art 4 Colored Pencil effectThis image of Victoria Station in London uses Snap Art 4 Colored Pencil filter. First Topaz (see sidebar for website link at my Tidbits Blog) ReStyle’s Cambridge Battleship preset was set to Soft Light blend mode. Then one of Snap Art’s colored pencil presets was applied. In the Detail Masking panel, the Photorealism slider was set to 100 and the people were painted over to bring out detail in them. Created the frame back in Photoshop  by painting around the image edge on a New Layer with a Sponge brush, then opening up a Drop Shadow layer style where Distance was set to 0, Spread to 34% and Size to 5 pixels. This gave the cool dark edge effect in the border.

Check out Alien Skin’s website page for several useful tutorials, especially one called Chris Wieck’s Snap Art Tips. Well, that’s it for this post – just wanted to get this review done since I believe Alien Skin’s Snap Art 4 is a fantastic way to add some painterly effects to an image, or to totally change the image. This is in my top five plug-ins for Photoshop so that means it is pretty darn good! Lots of fun – and that, my friends, is the “name of the game!”

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Get Great Results with Alien Skin Snap Art 3 and Topaz ReStyle Together!!
A Day in the Sun!


Arrangement of an wood egret, flowers, and clock done in Corel PainterSince the holidays are coming quickly, I decided to show you a little more about these plug-ins and program and how they all all work together – maybe it will help you decide if you want to purchase them. There are a lot of plug-ins I could have used, but these are the ones I have recently been using the most. I will add that Alien Skin just came out with Snap Art 4 – have not totally explored it but it is definitely as good as Snap Art 3 that I loved it! This week I am just going to show what a little Topaz (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) ReStyle and Corel Painter and/or Nik Analog Efex Pro can do to an image. All these images used Photoshop to apply the plug-ins, but you can actually apply both the Topaz filters and Nik Collection from Painter. (To do this, find the Topaz or Nik folders on your hard drive and copy the whole folder over to the Corel Painter -> Support Files -> Plugins folder. They appear in the Effects menu item.)

Corel Painter and Topaz ReStyle

I am really enjoying Painter, but it does have some quirks and a huge learning curve that you need to know to be really good at using it. I am still diving into that. I thought I was finished with the image above when I took my final Painter image back into Photoshop for the last steps. That is when I did something I do a lot with my images – take the it into ReStyle for a last look – just in case somethings really strikes me. It is easy to try different color presets to make the image look totally different. ReStyle also has a couple of very useful sliders in its interface that can really make or break the whole effect. By using the Texture slider in the ReStyle section and the Detail Structure and Sharpness sliders, some really interesting results can be obtained. Sometimes I put the Structure slider down and the Sharpness up or vice versa. And then the Texture slider can also have a big effect, although sometimes I do not see any. You have to be careful to not “overcook” the look (especially the Lum sliders seem to do this a lot), but it is worth experimenting with these sliders just to see if you can improve the appearance to the image.
*****Image of a white bird of paradise flowerI was so excited to find my first Bird of Paradise bloom – it was hiding under my huge Elephant Plant leaves – guess it likes the protection since I have not had good luck getting the plants to bloom. I actually did not know that they came in white flowers! The image was first processed in Lightroom with just the Basic tab sliders and cropped slightly. In Photoshop OnOne’s (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) new Perfect Effects 8 was opened and the Dynamic Contrast Natural preset and the Sharpening Amazing Detail Finder preset were used – love how these two filters work together on an image. Another reason I like this image is that I created the background texture in Corel Painter X3 using a series of my favorite brushes. This texture layer was set to Pin Light blend mode and a layer mask was added so the plant could be painted back into the image. The original texture color was a light turquoise, but I ran the image through Topaz ReStyle and realized I liked more of the grayish tones for this image (the settings: Selected Dusty Desert preset as a starting point. Set Texture Strength to 0.86; Basic tab set Saturation to 0.53; Tone Black Level 0.34 and Midtones 0.05; and Detail Structure 0.19 and Sharpness 0.83). Just a little clean up and contrast was added. Note the Texture and Sharpness sliders are set high and the Structure slider not so much.

Nik Analog Efex Pro and Topaz ReStyle

Image of buildings in London treated with Nik Analog Efex Pro and Topaz ReStyleThis photo is one I took a while back in London during the first Scott Kelby Photowalk. The original image is rather industrial look – it was first just cleaned up with the Basic sliders in Lightroom and added Dave Delnea’s Backlight Vertical Left preset to lighten up that corner a little. In Photoshop it was first treated with Topaz ReStyle starting with the Firebrick Red preset to bring out some bright orange tones, then Texture was set to 0.61, Detail Structure 0.52 and Sharpness -0.20. The image looked very sharp and detailed at this point. Next Nik’s Analog Efex Pro plug-in was added – both were smart filters connected to the same layer. I really liked the way the tower on the left was slightly blurred and bowed by setting the Lens Distortion tab Pincushion Barrel slider towards the Barrel end. This image actually used all the plug-in tabs but the Zoom & Rotate Blur and Dirt & Scratches to get this really cool vintage effect. Back in Photoshop a Curves Adjustment Layer was added and the layer mask filled with black – then painted in white to lighten parts of the sky just slightly, and a Levels Adjustment Layer was added to add just a little overall tonal contrast. I really like the rather surreal vintage feel to the image. By combining these two plug-ins, you can get really interesting results – this is one of my favorite pastimes in Photoshop is to try different combinations.

Corel Painter, Topaz Restyle and Nik Analog Efex Pro

Image of collectibles at Michaels Arts & Craft storeThis image of some Christmas collectibles at Michaels Art & Craft Store uses a similar process as above – the same texture from the Bird of Paradise image, but this time Topaz ReStyle changed the color palette so you would never guess the original texture and image colors (started with Cream and Plum preset. Texture Strength .88, Color Style Lum Fifth 0.38, Sat Secondary 0.64, Fourth 0.34, and Fifth -0.20; Color Tint -0.42 – no Structure or Sharpness).  This image used Nik’s Analog Efex Pro and a preset I call SJ Blurred Good preset (settings used include Basic Adjustments, Bokeh at Blur Strength 9%, Light Leaks 2 over 3 down at 25%, Dirt & Scratches Organic 3 over 2 down at 74%, Frames Lightbox 3 over, and Levels & Curves adjusting the Luminosity (slight upward curve) and RGB (slight S curve) channels). To get really nice results in Analog Efex Pro, I am finding the Levels & Curves tab makes all the difference – especially Luminosity curve. To use the same curve in Photoshop, you must go into LAB mode. The snow is my SJ Snow1 Overlay (a free download in my set of SJ Holiday Overlays) with a 33% layer opacity. The text is from Obsidian Dawn’s Christmas Vectors.
Image processed with Corel Painter of some benches in a park in Edinburgh, Scotland
Here is another example of an using all three programs. In this case, the original image of a bench in a park in Edinburgh, Scotland had the Nik Analog Efex Pro applied to it using basically the same preset as in the Christmas image. This photo was then taken into Corel Painter where Auto-painting was done using the Sponge brushes – the Dense Sponge brush at 30 px, 15 px and 9 px on three different layers. (See a really good book by Martin Addison called Corel Painter 11 for Photographers – pg. 118 or video included on book CD for info on this technique.) The photo was saved as a PSD file in Corel and brought into Photoshop where the spot healing brush was used on a separate layer to clean up rough edges. Topaz ReStyle was then applied to get a little look from the really bright green in the image. (Settings were: Started with White Fields preset. ReStyle Opacity 65%; Color Style Hue Third 0.45; Sat Primary -0.05, Secondary 0.02, Third -0.86, and Fifth 0.23; Texture Strength 0.77; Basic Opacity 62%: Color  Temperature 0.16 and Tint -0.17; Tone Black Level -0.17, Midtones 0.19, and White Level -0.06; and Details Structure 0.11 and Sharpness 0.13.) I was not really familiar with the Auto-painting function in Painter, but it does seem to do a nice job.
Really liked this one.

All of these programs have trial and it would be worth your time to check them out. What I like about Corel Painted is that you can still get some nice results without knowing everything about the program. The two plug-ins have very short learning curves and both give really great results. Anyway, hope this gave you a chance to see some more of the results you can get. Have fun checking them out!….Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Digital Lady Syd Reviews Topaz ReStyle
Photoshop with Corel Painter for Texture
Digital Lady Syd Reviews Nik Analog Efex Pro
A Day in the Sun!
Let’s Hear It for the Graphophone
Digital Lady Syd’s Rule No. 6: Try Something New!
Corel Painter and Photoshop Together to Create a Pastel Painting
Surprising Results with Nik Analog Efex Pro
Rural Church in Belarus


Image of Pink Chrysanthemums in BelarusIt seems like this has become a rather popular look, especially with the Vintage Film looks that are so popular right now. Thought I would preset a few different sources for creating some nice looking light leak effects. The Belarusian Chrysanthemum image above used the Light Leak tab (see below) in Nik’s Analog Efex Pro (Crisp – 5th row down-3rd over) to get this nice subtle effect on these flower.

Lightroom Technique

Image of St. Andrews Castle in Scotland using light leak effectWell I just found several good short Lightroom videos that Gavin Hoey, a great Photoshop guru from England, posted on his Gavtrain website. I followed his Light Leak Effect Creative Lightroom Episode 1 to get the beautiful color in this image of St. Andrews Castle in Scotland. He gives you two ways to do this, one using Graduated Filters (the left side of image) and one using the newer Radial Filter in Lightroom (the right side of the image). I was totally surprised how nice this turned out. First I applied Jack Davis Cross Processing 01 Lightroom preset (basically it is a higher Clarity, lower Vibrance and higher Saturation for the sliders, and a slight backward S-shaped Tone Curve – download his Lightroom presets on link above) before adding Gavin’s light leaking effect. In the Adjustment Brush settings that Gavin used, I did change a few settings to get the effect to look right on this image. The image was taken into Photoshop where Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Clarity was opened and the Architecture Collection’s Exterior Texture preset was applied as is – it really sharpened up the bricks on the castle. That was all that was done. I guess I got more of a dramatic effect, but I really liked the result so it is my customized “Light Leak Effect.”

Using a Photoshop Plug-in for a Light Leak Effect

Image of Santa at the Beach using a Light LeakThis Santa image took advantage of the beautiful Light Leak choices in Nik’s new Analog Efex Pro plug-in. This one used the first one listed in the Soft list of Light Leaks and set to a 50% Strength – definitely created a little pop to the image. All but the Lens Distortion, Zoom & Rotate Blur, and Dirt & Scratches tabs were used. In the Light Leak tab there is a large dot on the image that can be adjusted so the light leak affects just the part you want. The candy cane border was created by adding a Stroke Layer Style (Position Inside, Blend Mode Color Burn, and Opacity 82%) and setting the Fill Type to Pattern using Christmas day by Photoshop-Stock pat 5 set to a Scale of 239%. Once again I love the vintage effect that Nik’s Analog Efex Pro gives to an image.
Image of man blowing a wooden whistle in Old Village in BelarusThis image at The Old Village of Ayaymku in Belarus of a guy blowing a wooden whistle was processed in both Nik Color Efex Pro using Flypaper Textures Steps preset and then in OnOne (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Photo Suite 7.5, (but the new Suite 8.0 will have these effects), using their Light Leak 3 and Brushed Realism 10 set to 81% opacity, then Amazing Detail filter, and topped off with Sloppy Border 19 and the Tin Type 001 at 57% to get the real vintage look. I did not want to overdo the leak look, but it does add some colorful effects to the image.

Using a Light Leak Overlay on the Image

Image of buildings in Minsk, Belarus, using several filters and presetsThere are actually quite a few jpg Light Leak images on the internet that can be downloaded for free. The image above used one from Lomo Light Leaks by Denny Tang (scroll way down to download from website)  – really nice light leak images. Have to talk a little about this image – it was an awful image taken from a moving car and the third shot I took in Minsk, Belarus. I wanted to see what the new Trey Radcliff’s (my favorite HDR guy) Lightroom presets could do with a bad image – I loved the results and I love the new presets – this one used Super Flatjack – really grainy and very subtle. Once in Photoshop I had to remove a whole bunch of electrical lines (see my Get Rid of Those Power Lines Fast – with Paths and Spot Healing Tool! blog). Next I applied Topaz Adjust’s Classic Collections Low Key I preset – another great product from Topaz. Of course, I could not stop there even though the image looked really nice – Nik’s Analog Efex Pro was added and the beautiful vintage color came out (used Basic Adjustments, Light Leaks which added a slight red tint using just a -36% amount, Lens Vignette, Film Type and Levels & Curves) and the layer opacity was set to 76%. The sky still did not look quite right to me, so now Denny Tang’s light leak was applied – set to Screen blend mode and 75% layer opacity – to add just some subtle interest into the sky. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was added and I just dragged in the sky with the Targeted Adjustment Tool to get the color I wanted (note – used ALT+CTRL to get the Hue slider to change as the Tool defaults to the Saturation slider). Also, Shadowhouse Creations has 17 beautiful light leak textures for free download.

Hopefully you can see what a nice effect the Light Leak can create. They really add a little additional vintage feel to an image. It does not have to be overdone and with a Hue/Sat or Selective Color Adjustment Layer, you can tweak the colors for a great subtle look. Hope you get a chance to try out this technique. It really can add that little bit of extra interest into an image to really make it pop!…..Digital Lady Syd


Image of Lafayette Fountain in Savannah, Georgia, using Nik Analog Efex ProWell this was a most unexpected and very much appreciated addition to the Nik Collection since Nik had not given us any hope that they would be updating or adding to their plug-ins. If you own the Nik Collection already and have not gotten the update, just go over to Nik’s website and download the trial – it will automatically update and add the new plug-in into your software for free. Since I am not very familiar with some of the older film processing, it has been fun to try some of these looks on my images. The above image is of the top of Lafayette Fountain in historic Savannah, Georgia. All filters but the Lens Distortion, Zoom & Rotate Blue, and Light Leaks were used on this image – that means the other 8 camera filters (Basic Adjustments, Bokah, Dirt & Scratches, Photo Plate, Lens Vignette, Film Type, Frames, and Levels & Curves) were added! (Other than Lightroom basic slider changes and a Selective Color Adjustment Layer adjusting the Reds and Yellows for more yellow tones, there were no other changes but the plug-in.) Since I love adding a vintage feel to an image, I am finding this plug-in to be one I am using more than I thought I would! All my original images are shown in the Tych Panel at end of blog so you can get a feel for what this plug-in actually does to an image.
Toy Camera processing on gumball machines imageAll but the top image were taken with my cheap little point-and-shoot, which does not take the best images to begin with, and were then processed in the new Analog Efex Pro by Nik. It was a perfect match and I totally love the results. For the gumball machine image a basic Lightroom workflow was done and then in Photoshop the Adaptive Wide Angle Filter was used to straighten out the shelves a little. Since the edges got a little wonky, I added Kim Klassen‘s Serendipity texture set to Normal behind the image to fill in the blank edges with her beautiful brown texture. The last step involved add the new plug-in – opened up the Toy Camera presets and choose the fourth down, then just did a few adjustments to get the look I liked. Most of the changes occurred in the Basic Adjustments sliders and Lens Vignette tab. The Film was changed to the bottom middle one the Subtle group and a more Faded look was added. Not much to change here. For a quick overview of what each filter does, check out the Nik Collection Help link here.

What I Like About Nik Analog Efex Pro

1. It is totally creative and fun – what a big surprise since I was not even sure what these different type of old-time cameras did. Can make a boring image into something fabulous.

2. There are On Image Controls for most of the filters – very easy to adjust and set up in your image.

3. Love that you are not limited to the settings they want you to use for each of the camera categories. By going into the Camera Kit, you can add any of the other filters not used in the original camera preset. Totally creative use of the filters!

4. I love that they gave us Nik Collection owners the plug-in for free – totally made my day!

What I Don’t Like About Nik Analog Efex Pro

These are pretty minor gripes.

1.  It would be nice if you could apply some of the filters more than once. For example, I would like to add more than one Light Leak on the same image. At least they can be moved round inside your image but not rotated or resized. It would be nice to have more border choices too or to be able to adjust the width of the frames in this section.

2. Not real happy with the Vary button since you never know what the variation will be and what sliders will be changing – just have to hope a nicer one comes up next. It can be fun to try different looks within the filter by clicking on the Vary button and if you hold down the SHIFT and click Vary, all the filter’s settings randomizes for all the filters being applied. Luckily you can get back to the original settings in the History tab as long as you have not applied the plug-in first.

3. No control points. Nik says at this point that the plug-in does support U-Point Technology but they plan on adding it in later versions. It would be nice to have that.

I am finding that if I get settings I like, I am saving them down as presets such as SJ Toy Camera-gumballs. Since I have been using the Vary button a lot, this seems to be the only way to save those effects to use again. It is nice there is Smart Object capability which will save these settings, but you would have to open the original image that contains them by moving all the settings or writing down the settings and resetting to a new image to achieve the same look.

This guy below was an image taken at the wonderful Gulfstream Family Day in Savannah, Georgia, a while back. He really screamed vintage to me so he got it!
Image using Nik's Analog Efex Pro on an eagleThis image needed some major clean up since there were distracting feet at the top and a rope on his foot, and it just did not seem right to have this beautiful bird looking this way. In Lightroom just basic changes were done. In Photoshop the Patch Tool was used to get rid of a lot of the problem areas. In Analog Efex Pro the Wet Plate Camera 9 preset was used as a starting place. I removed some of the filters on the right by going into the Camera Kit and picking what ones I wanted removed and what I wanted added. This really is a trial-and-error process since every image I process comes out quite different when applying similar effects. The Wet Plate presets are quite lovely and I could have used several of them on this beautiful bird. The plug-in really is one of those that is just plain fun to use.
Image of cowboy on stilts post-processed using Nik Analog Efex ProA cowboy picture is definitely a worthy image for this plug-in! This guy was up on tall stilts greeting everyone coming into Family Day – what fun! Just the basic panel sliders and cropping were used in Lightroom before going into Photoshop. Then Analog Efex Pro was applied – not sure what I started with but the following filters were used: Basic Adjustments, Bokeh at 45% blur strength, Dirt & Scratches at 67% strength, Photo Plate at 31% strength, Lens Vignette left for darker edges, Film Type at 100% strength, and Frames. It does not seem to matter where you start if you plan on adding the filters you like and saving it as a preset. Very simple to use. That was all the changes made on this image.
Ferris Wheel at Gulfstream Family Day image using Nik Analog Efex ProThis may be my favorite image I have processed using the new plug-in. Again not much done in Lightroom except for a dramatic crop. In Photoshop I applied a saved preset I had used on my first image using this plug-in and saved the results at a preset. So you can compare how the strengths and filters varied, I have given you basic strength settings.  It started with a Vintage Camera preset and the Basic Adjustments, Bokeh at 88% blur strength, Dirt & Scratches at 82% strength, Photo Plate at 20% strength, Lens Vignette set to the right for a white edge, Film Type at 52% strength, and Levels & Curves dragging RGB curve down in midtones were added. The Camera Toolkit was used to get all the filters used. I added my own little edge frame as I did not like how the ones in the plug-in looked. I love the delicate colors in the final image!

As promised, here are the originals – don’t be too critical – my point-and-shoot is not the best, but as the saying goes – at least I got the shot! (Got to get my phone upgraded – on the to-do list!) It is pretty amazing what you can do with an imperfect image!Tych Panel of the original images from this blog

Bottom Line

This plug-in is definitely worth a second look. You can get similar results using Photoshop or other plug-ins. But Nik does such a super job of interfacing with Photoshop, and they make it so easy to apply the effects, that I think it is a real winner. I think the greatest thing is that Nik is back and gave us another great plug-in – we Photoshop Nuts have to be ecstatic! This plug-in is lots of fun and I am starting to see many uses for it. I am now going to get back to having some more Fun with the Analog Efex Pro plug-in – please excuse me!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Using Nik’s Analog Efex Pro on a Historic Statue


Image of family at Flagler Beach
This week I decided to combine a little Flagler Beach in Florida with a little Lightroom and Photoshop. Got a chance to get down to the beach recently on a beautiful day. This little beach is about as laid-back and what I call “retro” as you will ever find in the US. I just love this place! The retro effect seems to be very trendy right now in photography processing. When I think of what is retro vs. an old photo look, I believe that a retro look is what you personally remember or think something would have looked like when you were younger, not just adding some effects to make something look old. All the images in this blog have my personal retro stamp on them – they were pretty good to begin with, which always helps when post-processing your photos. The colors and softness are what I added to get my personal retro affect.

Create a Lightroom Preset For a Vintage Feel

The above may be one of my favorite recent photos. What a wonderful place to spend a sunny day and this family epitomizes what I think of as a great beach day, now or when I was younger! I was really happy to be able to get this nice effect from a Lightroom preset. First I downloaded a preset from Allen Mowery’s Photography Site’s blog entry called Allen’s Vintage Retro – A Free Lightroom Preset. His work is really interesting. Then in Photoshop I further tweaked it to make it mine and saved it as a new preset. The Luminance and Saturation sliders and Split Toning Colors adjustments from Allen’s preset gives this image a great feel. I added Basic slider adjustments along with a Tone Curve adjustment on the RGB channel by creating points on the curve and dragging to get a softer look. (Here are all my Lightroom preset settings if you would like to create it: Basic Panel Highlights -100, Shadows +45, Whites -53, Blacks +25, Clarity -27, Vibrance -2, and Saturation +39; Tone Curve RGB Channel Points at 19.6/27.8% and 52.5/56.9%; HSL Saturation Red -42 and Blue -83 – all others 0, and Luminance Red +25, Orange +19, and Yellow +21; and Split Toning Highlights 64, Saturation 56, Balance -54, Shadows Hue 229 and Saturation 23.) In Photoshop the image was duplicated and Topaz (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for link) Clarity’s Micro Contrast Boost preset was applied. In Photoshop a black Layer Mask was created and just the water area and a little of the people were painted in to get just a little more detail. A Levels Adjustment Layer was added using these settings: (27/0.70/255 and Output Levels 23/255). That was it! A very magical Summer Beach Scene!
An image of a pirate statue at Flagler Beach This pirate stands watch at the doorway to Bahama Mama’s Tropical Gift shop a block off the beach. Looks like a cute place. Very little was done to this image after some cropping. In Lightroom three presets were applied – each one affected different sliders so three can be applied to get this look. An HDR Split Tone preset I had created a while back (Highlights Hue 52/Sat 64; Balance +49; Shadows Hue 215/Sat 50), Jared Platt‘s Sharpen Sharper preset which is just an Amount of 50, Radius of 1.0 and Detail 25 – pretty much the default; and Dave Delnea Backlight Horizontal Right preset which uses a bunch of different settings to get this effect (I just bought his presets and am using them a lot). In Photoshop Nik Viveza 2 was used – three control points on the pirate to draw focus. A Levels Adjustment Layer was added and the Output Levels was set to 18/255. The last step used Topaz Clarity’s Flowers III preset. I think it has a really vintage feel to it.

Using Photoshop Filter Add-on Plug-ins

Image of kids and dogs in front of a surf shop in Flagler BeachHad to give this colorful surf shop image a bit of a retro feel – love the dogs, but maybe the tattoos give away how current this image is!  (See Sullys Surf Shop Facebook link.) Only a few changes were done in Lightroom – just Lens Correction, Cropping, Auto Tone and Clarity applied. In Photoshop the image was turned into a Smart Object and taken into Alien Skin’s Snap Art and Oil Paint (Landscape – Soft) preset was applied. This filter can give a really nice vintage feel to an image. Two layers were created to bring back more of the photo effects on the people and dogs and the painted flowers on the building. A Layer Mask was added and with a large soft black brush set to 12% brush opacity, the details were further painted back. On a composite layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) on top, Jack Davis’ Wow Edges 01 was applied for a frame effect – it is basically a soft edge created by using a white Inner Shadow but I love Jack’s Layer Styles, even if they have been around a long time. That was it and it sure looks like a wonderful way to spend a Saturday morning at the beach!

Vintage Retro look of Flagler Beach in Early Spring imageJust another example of using filters on an image to get a really nostalgic look – this time it’s the Flagler Beach Fishing Pier (the same one at the top of my Flickr site).  The shot was a three-image, and the tone-mapped HDR tiff file was processed using Nik HDR Pro Deep 1 preset. On a duplicate layer Topaz ReStyle was applied using Teal Skies and Setting Skies color preset. Nik Color Efex Pro 4 was used and Monday Morning filter set to Color Set Sepia and White Neutralizer was applied. A Levels Adjustment Layer was used next with the Output Levels set to 14/255 to get a slightly hazy look. A Color Balance Adjustment Layer was next selected and Shadows Yellow to Blue was set to +14 and Highlights Yellow to Blue -50. A Curves Adjustment Layer was used next and the curve was pulled up to get a slightly over-exposed look. Because grain was added to this image in the HDR preset, it has a very vintage feel.

Image of people relaxing on Flagler Beach with a retro lookThis beach image uses very similar processing as the one above, except there was a lot more processing done in Lightroom first. Once again three images were stacked to get a 32-bit tonemapped image (using Photomatix Pro’s owners free add-on for Lightroom Merge to 32-bit HDR). Then I set all the Saturation sliders to -100 and slowly started adding in the colors the way I liked them. The Hues and Luminance sliders were also tweaked to get the colors right. An Adjustment Brush was opened just the water was selected – then the Tint, Exposure, Contrast, Shadows, Clarity, and Saturation sliders were changed. The Color was changed to a turquoise color. Another Adjustment Brush was opened and just the people were painted. This time the Contrast, Highlights, Clarity and Sharpness sliders were reduced, and the Shadows increased to soften the people. Jack Davis’s Bluish Split Toning Curve was selected in the Tone Curve drop-down, and Dave Delnea’s Backlight Horizontal Left was used to brighten up the image. At this point the image looked pretty good, but in Photoshop Nik Color Efex Pro 4 was opened to add grain to the image. Jared Platt says they have the very best grain filter. So the Film Grain Filter was applied along with the one of my very favorite filters in CEP4-Monday Morning using the Neutral Color Set and the filter set to 55% opacity. That really made the image look the way I wanted it to look.

Image of a beach house near Flagler Beach using Snap Art 3This image has a combination Lightroom preset and Photoshop plug-in to get this look. The more greenish aqua sky is one characteristic I think of when creating retro effects. Dave Delnea’s Lightroom preset Washed Vintage 01 and Backlight Vertical Right presets were used to get this beautiful color and lighting on the image. Then in Photoshop, Snap Art 3’s Oil Paint (dry brush) was once again used to get a painterly look. Three layers were used to bring in details more clearly. On a layer mask in Photoshop, more was softly painted out in a layer mask so you can see the chairs and windows more clearly. A Levels Adjustment Layer was used to add some Midtone contrast and that was it! I could see myself living on the beach in this house!

I am finding that if I try out different combinations of colors and my filters, I can get a nice nostalgic feel to an image. I especially like the new Lightroom presets I got from Dave Delnea and Topaz ReStyle, Nik Color Efex Pro’s Film Grain and Monday Morning filters, and some types of media in Alien Skin’s Snap Art 3 can turn an image into a very retro feel with just a few clicks. I really enjoyed creating a personal interpretation of what is my “retro” look……Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Little Red Corvette
Vintage Roman Bath


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