Nik Software

Try This Photo Challenge: Go From Drab to Fab

Here's another photo challenge. Take a lack-luster sunrise (Angkor Wat, Cambodia here) or sunset scene and turn it into a dramatic sunrise or sunset shot.

Use Nik HDR Efex Pro or Photomatix to create your HDR negative, and then use Nik Color Efex Pro to add color and contrast to the scene. Here I used the Tonal Contrast a Bi-Color filter in Nik Color Efex Pro.

As a final step, crop the crap.... boring parts of the scene that take away from the impact of your image.

In fact, you can have a secondary goal: Create an image with impact.

I look forward to seeing your before-and-after results. You can post your before-and-after images in my Photo Challenges Google+ community.

Good luck and have fun.

All the plug-ins I use are listed here.

I teach image processing on all my workshops.

Explore the light,

Want to find the best light on a workshop? Check out my latest app for your iPhone and iPad running iOS 6 or greater: Rick Sammon's Photo Sundial – the all-in-one app that gives you the sun, the stars, the moon - and much more. Never miss another sunrise or sunset again.

The app is great for on-site shooting, as well as for trip planning. Twenty-five photo tips, too!

Hey, if you find a better priced and more fully-featured sun-finder app, please let me know. 

Here's a movie I made on photographing sunrises and sunsets. 

Get the Entire Nik Collection by Google for Only $149!

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Check this out! You can own the entire Nik Collection of awesome plug-ins for only $149! See my Save on Plug-in page for info. You'll find great deals on other plug-ins on that page, too. Above: Nik HDR Efex Pro.

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Above: Nik Silver Efex Pro.

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Above: Midnight filter in Nik Color Efex Pro.

I'm a big fan of plug-ins, as readers of my blog know. Plug-ins can help you awaken the artist within. 

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Above: Nik Dfine. 

Explore the light,


Look for Pictures Within Pictures - Midnight Run

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On my workshops and in my seminars, I stress the importance of looking for pictures within pictures – as well as envisioning the end-result. Here's one such example from today's workshop shoot.

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Directly above is my out-of-the-camera shot. I created the opening image for this post simply by cropping in on the two horses on the left and then by applying the Midnight filter in Nik Color Efex Pro – which is part of the Nik Collection by Google . . . which is on sale for a super savings!

Take a close look at your images and think about digital darkroom possibilities. You'll may be surprised at what you find and what you see.

I call this shot "Midnight Run." 

Explore the light,

This post sponsored by x-rite. X-Rite is the global leader in color science and technology. The Company develops, manufactures, markets and supports innovative color solutions through measurement systems, software, color standards and services.

Check out these cool x-rite products:
Passport Color Checker

Envision the End Result

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For me, as a travel photographer, my pictures are often a 50-50 deal: 50 percent image capture, 50 percent image processing. Sometimes, I spend even more time on image processing than on image capture.

When shooting, I try to envision the end-result in Photoshop or Lightroom. That is something I stress to all my photo workshops students.

Here is just one example.

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While driving through Spearfish Canon, South Dakota, yesterday, I took the above grab shot. First, the quick grab shot is a bit tilted. Second, the picture is flat – and lacks color, contrast and details, due to the overcast sky.

All that was easily fixed, first in Photoshop by adjusting the Levels and with a bit of cropping. After that quick fix, I use NIk Color Efex Pro – applying the Detail Extractor, Darken/Lighten Center and Tonal Contrast filters.

As a final touch, I stretched the image to more of a panorama using Image Size in Photoshop, increasing only the Width and not the Height. I did that by un-checking the Constrain Proportions box in the Image Size widow.

Envision the end-result. Always.

Explore the light,


Turn a Snapshot into an Art Shot

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Here's a quick photo tip: turn a snapshot into an art shot - or at least a more artistic image - with plug-ins. Plug-ins help us awaken the artist within by removing some of the reality from an image.

I created the image above in Nik Color Efex Pro from the image below.

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I used three filters: Darken / Lighten Center, Vignette: Blur and Image Borders. Adding filter is a cool feature in Color Efex 4.

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If you are new to Nik and plug-ins, see my Save on Plug-ins page.

Explore the light,