Improve Your Lightroom Skills

Taking your creative photography skills to the next level just got a little bit easier for your extensive library of travel photos.  Google just announced that they are now making the whole Nik Software Suite free. Yes we said free, and considering what we paid for this software years ago when it was an independent vendor, it really is the deal of the year for travel photographers.

So what is the Nik software suite?  This is an add-on package to Aperture on the Mac and Adobe's Lightroom and Photoshop photography tools that allows you to create stunning photos that much faster.  If you have used Snapseed (one of our favorite mobile tools) the creators of that app were the Nik team.  Long before Snapseed was even a thought, the team had developed and sold Nik software which was being used by photographers around the globe on their desktop.  

One of the unique features of this software was the ability to get creative with photos with a control point instead of brushes or the whole image, an extremely powerful feature that is demonstrated in the video below.


The suite includes the following modules and it works with both Mac and Windows:

Analog Efex Pro - Filters and tools that let you bring back the look from classic cameras, lenses, and films.  Some of us may still miss that Kodachrome look and they deliver it digitally here.

Color Efex Pro -  This is perhaps our most go-to tool in the suite with an abundance of filters that can be stacked into recipes. With the improvements of lightroom sliders over the years, we do less with this than before, but it remains powerful and takes creativity to new levels.  Oh, and did we say fast; the filters can be simple one click improvements.


Silver Efex Pro - A tool that will have you mastering and appreciating the true art of black and white photography.  No more chemicals just a great digital dark room for you to create the best in black and white photography.  This has been our go-to tool for most of our work in black and white.  Here is a an example of a photo we took on a typical foggy coastal morning in Oregon before and after using Silver Efex Pro.

The Result After

Viveza - Another tool in the suite that is usually used first to work on color, tonalilty etc. A great tool that is best applied when you want to quickly apply controlled enhancements to the digital image. Much easier than Lightroom when you want to control effect application. 

HDR Efex Pro - This is another incredible deal now for free.  If you have wanted to explore HDR but find photoshop a bit tasking then this extension is the tool for you.  Generally ranked #2 or #3 in the market for HDR software it provides most of what you would want to have in a software package to help you get the best out of HDR photo manipulation. The most popular software in this class is Photomatrix Pro and for good reason.  If you get serious about HDR you may want to upgrade to their product.  Below is a photo we took at the High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon.  This was a three-shot exposure that was then processed with HDR Efex Pro.


Sharpener Pro and Define - These two tools in the collection are also good but we do not use them as often.  We do find that Define can sometimes work noise better than Lightroom in certain conditions.

These are great tools that at one time sold for $200-300 so don't miss the opportunity to add these to your lightroom or photoshop software and start exploring.  The tools are very easy to use and a powerful compliment to the other Adobe products.  You will see your lightroom skills jump to the next level.  There are other vendors out there with similar effects, tools and filters that you can also consider if you are a junkie for being creative.  Topaz Labs, Alien Skin and ON1 are three worth a look.  The ON1 software platform is a great standalone alternative to the Adobe products. Prices might be dropping a bit based on this move by Google.

The link to download the Nik Collection for free is here.


Analog Efex Pro 2: Exploring Creativity: The Super Cell