Image © Mark Rainer
Silver Efex Pro 2 benefits from years of research and development along with feedback from top professional photographers from around the world. This research and feedback has helped Silver Efex Pro 2 evolve best-in-class black and white conversion algorithms, making it possible to create amazing black and white images in seconds.
In this image, the black and white conversion algorithms can be quickly utilized to turn a decent looking colour image into a stunning black and white image.
Step 1: Immediately after opening the image in Silver Efex Pro 2, the unique black and white conversion algorithms automatically convert the colour image into a great looking black and white image. As the starting brightness in this image does not need to be adjusted, the Brightness slider is skipped and the Contrast slider is adjusted. By moving the Contrast slider approximately to around the half-way point, depth is added to the image.
Step 2: Additional detail can be brought out in the image by using the proprietary Structure slider. This slider works by identifying the objects and the edges of objects throughout the image and increasing contrast within the objects without affecting the edges of each object. The result is the increase of apparent detail throughout the image without unwanted artifacts.
Step 3: To finish off the image, a sepia tone is quickly added by selecting option 19 from the Toning pull-down menu in the Finishing Adjustments section.
Image © Laurie Rubin Shupp
Silver Efex Pro 2 was designed to provide more advanced control over black and white conversions than any other tool available. This was accomplished by developing some never-before-seen ways of adjusting tonality and contrast. The new controls found within Silver Efex Pro 2 make it possible to adjust image detail, not only faster, but also with far higher quality.
The starting point of this fall image is too flat, with too much detail requiring attention. Using the new controls found in Silver Efex Pro 2, the image can be processed and enhanced in a fraction of the time normally required.
Step 1: To draw more attention away from the trees in the background and to the rocks and stream in the foreground, the Dynamic Brightness slider is moved to the left. The Dynamic Brightness slider works by analyzing the image and automatically adapting the brightness applied to each area differently. The goal of the Dynamic Brightness slider is to maintain a good contrast range, even after the brightness is altered. Normally, bringing the brightness down in an image will result in all areas being darkened uniformly, resulting in a flat and darker image. With the Dynamic Brightness slider, highlights in the rocks are maintained while the trees in the background are darkened significantly.
Step 2: While the relationship between the background and the foreground is now improved, the overall contrast of the image still needs some work. The new Amplify Whites and Amplify Blacks sliders can be used to control contrast in new and unique ways. By moving both of these sliders to the right, the unique algorithms within Silver Efex Pro attempt to bring out the whites and blacks of each object found throughout the image. This is different than normal contrast as instead of making every dark tone darker and every light tone lighter, the shadows and highlights unique to each area are identified and then amplified until they reach white or black. In this particular example, the Amplify Whites slider is moved all the way to the right to 100% while the Amplify Blacks slider is brought up to around 70%.
Step 3: A small amount of contrast added to an image really can transform it from good to great. The new Soft Contrast slider in Silver Efex Pro 2 can not only create amazing contrast, but it can help set or accentuate a mood.
Moving the Soft Contrast slider to the right adaptively and intelligently seeks out different areas throughout the image to apply a unique type of contrast. In this case, it helps solidify the transition between foreground, midground, and background, setting a nice depth to the image.
Image © Ed Heaton
In order to provide a complete, all-in-one black and white conversion solution, Silver Efex Pro 2 contains a large range of finishing
options that can be used to polish the image.
Step 1: The tools found in the Global Adjustments section are used to adjust the tonality and detail of the image. The Brightness, Dynamic Brightness, Contrast, and Structure sliders are all used to build up detail and tonality in order to create an interesting interaction of contrast and brightness.
Step 2: Normally one of the first finishing adjustments applied to an image is a tint or toner. The third Sepia Tone option is selected from the Toning preset pull-down menu.
Next, the Balance slider, which controls which brightness levels receive toning, is moved all the way to the left. This ensures that only the dark values receive a sepia tone. Then, the Paper Toning slider is brought to 0% to ensure that the paper stays white. Finally, the Strength slider is brought down slightly to achieve the desired effect.
Step 3: The edges of the image are darkened to keep the viewer’s attention within the center of the image. This is a technique often employed in the darkroom to prevent a viewer’s eye from going to a bright edge and then exiting the image. Darkening the edges creates boundaries that can help keep a viewer’s attention for a longer period of time.
Both the Vignette and Burn Edges tools are used to achieve this result. First, the Vignette preset for Lens Falloff 2 is selected. Then, the Shape slider within the Vignette section is move to the right, creating a slightly more ovoid shape for the vignette. This assures some of the vignette effect is applied to the long sides of the image. Next, the Burn Edges section is opened, the left edge is selected, and the Strength, Size, and Transition sliders are all adjusted. This ensures that the tonality of all four edges matches and complements the image.
Step 4: Finally, Image Borders are added to the image. Image Border Type 11 is selected from the Type pull-down menu, and the Size, Spread, and Clean/Rough sliders are all moved to the left. The Vary Border button is selected a number of times until the border created works well with the image.
Image © Curt Littlecott
Dodging and burning were the most readily available and most often used techniques in the darkroom to selectively adjust tonality throughout an image. These techniques often required the use of pieces of cardboard, paper boxes, or even the photographer’s hands to selectively add or remove light from portions of an image. Due to the available tools, the control provided by dodging and burning was never extremely precise. Areas either stayed too light or too dark, or obvious signs of dodging and burning being added into the finished print. Silver Efex Pro 2 provides incredibly precise selective adjustment of not only tonality, but over contrast and detail as well.
The combination of both more precise control as well as more available options makes it possible to do more in Silver Efex Pro than was ever possible
in the darkroom.
In this image the default conversion produces an image that is too flat and where the bright trees on the right side distract the eye away from the bride and groom. Using control points, we can draw attention back to the bride and groom and create a great mood.
Step 1: Use Global Adjustments to add some contrast and adjust the brightness of the entire image slightly. To do this, the Dynamic Brightness slider is first used to darken the entire image while maintaining highlights throughout the image. Next, both the Amplify Whites and Amplify Blacks sliders are increased to around 50% to bring out more whites and blacks throughout the image. Finally, a small amount of Structure is applied to the image to add texture and detail throughout the image.
Step 2: Once the overall level of contrast and tonality desired is achieved, selective controls can be used to balance the light throughout the image and draw attention to the subject. First, a control point is added to the bride’s arm. Next, the Brightness slider is used to brighten the skin while the Structure slider is used to remove texture from the skin, leaving the skin slightly softened.
Next, the control point on the bride’s arm is duplicated and placed on the groom’s face by highlighting the control point on the bride’s arm and pressing the Duplicate button found in the Selective Adjustments section. Another duplicated control point is placed on the bride’s face as well. All three control points are then added to a group by selecting the control points and pressing the Group button in the Selective Adjustments section.
Step 3: Now that the desired tonality of the skin has been achieved, it’s time to adjust the tonality of the trees throughout the image. To do this, a control point is first added to the tree to the left of the groom. The Brightness, Contrast, and Structure sliders of this control point are then moved to the left to darken and reduce the contrast of the tree. This helps draw attention away from the tree and back to the bride and groom. Next, the control point on the tree is duplicated and placed on other trees throughout the scene to select them and reduce their brightness and contrast as well.
Step 4: By reviewing the Zone Map tool beneath the Loupe or Histogram, it is possible to see that the dress currently falls in zone 8 and is not bright enough. Adding some additional control points to the dress and increasing both the brightness and structure can help move some parts of the dress to fall within zone 9, which will ensure there are still details in the brightest part of the dress but also ensuring that the dress falls in the highlights of the image. Making sure that the dress is one of the brightest parts of the image ensures that the viewer’s eye goes directly to the dress, and then to the bridge and groom.
Image © Josh Haftel
Photographers have long used selective colourization to draw attention to the subject within an image. In the analog era, this was normally done by hand-tinting the finished print in a tone that matched the original object. With the advent of digital photography, masking allowed the photographer to selectively paint away the black and white conversion to reveal the original colour beneath the image. Now with Silver Efex Pro 2, you can use the patented U Point powered control points to quickly and easily bring the colour of an object back into your image, all without complicated selections or layer masks.
Step 1: The image’s tonality is adjusted using the Global Adjustment sliders. The Dynamic Brightness slider is used to brighten the image slightly while maintaining shadow detail. Then, the Soft Contrast slider is used to add a moody contrast to the image. Finally, the Midtone Structure slider is used to add a bit of additional texture to the midtone areas of the image, primarily adding detail to the lily pads.
Step 2: A border is added to the image to give a nice framing effect. Adding an image border can help draw the eye into the center of the image frame while also adding an interesting frame around the image. Image Border Type 12 was used, with a normal Size, a slightly reduced Spread, and the Clean/Rough slider moved all the way to the left.
Step 3: To enhance the colour of the flower, a control point is first added to the flower. Then, the control point is expanded to display the full list of sliders. Next, the Selective Colorization slider is moved all the way to 100% to bring all of the colour back.
As the entire flower is not completely covered by the first control point, additional control points are added to increase the coverage. To accomplish this, the first control point is selected and then the Duplicate button within the Selective Adjustments section is selected. This creates a new, identical control point that can be repositioned on another point of the flower. This is done again to create a nice coverage of the flower. Finally, all of the control points are added into a group by drawing a bounding box around all of the control points and selecting the Group button which can be found within the Selective Adjustments section.
Step 4: Due to a shared similarity of the flower and the lily pads, a small amount of the lily pad is also now coloured. To avoid this, new control points are added to the areas that should not have a colour and grouped together just as in the previous step.
The end result is an image that draws the eye immediately into the image through the use of the image border and the selectively coloured flower.