Monday, June 30, 2008

Favorite Plug-Ins

quick fixPhotoshop and Photoshop Elements, in addition to other digital image-editing programs, offer photographers many filters and adjustments to expand their creative horizons. The creative process can be enhanced further by using plug-ins.

By Rick Sammon Published in Quick Fix


Above, Left This is one of my favorite shots from Carnevale. I like the mysterious look of the participants. However, I wanted to make the photograph look even more mysterious. Above, Right Compare my Midnight filter image to my straight image. Which one looks more creative—and mysterious—to you?

COLOR EFEX PRO 3 from Nik Software ( includes the cool Midnight effect. As with other Color Efex Pro 3 filters, you have several options to create your own version of the effect, in this case, blur, contrast, brightness and color. You also have control over shadows and highlights. What's more, you can choose to see the before and after effects. The filters are divided into two categories-traditional and stylizing, both of which let you create one-of-a-kind images.

from Alien Skin ( Although I shoot all my pictures in color (as opposed to using the black-and-white setting in the camera's Parameter menu), I sometimes like to make black-and-white images in the digital darkroom. With Exposure, you can choose between different types of black-and-white film effects (from clean to grainy) and then control the contrast, curves, shadows, highlights and so on. What more could you (or Ansel Adams if he were alive) hope for? By the way, Ansel Adams, toward the end of his life, realized the potential of digital image processing and even wrote about it in one of his books.

quick fixPHOTOTOOLS from onOne Software ( includes the Davis Wow Tint-Muted Blue+Lite Edges effect. By using it, I was able to create an interesting effect, removing the true colors of the image and subduing them with a cool blue tone, reminiscent of darkroom toning. Dozens of effects are available in this feature-packed plug-in, including before-and-after views and fine-tuning of many of the filters.

The next time you feel a creative block with your photography, try using a plug-in-and plug some creativity into your thinking cap. You can find more plug-ins at or by doing a web search: Photoshop plug-ins.

Rick Sammon has published 27 books. In 2008, he'll publish three more books: Face to Face-The Art of Photographing People; Exploring the Light-How to Make the Very Best In-Camera Image; and Rick Sammon's Pocket Guide for Taking Travel and Nature Pictures. Each year Sammon teaches dozens of workshops and gives seminars, covering shooting, scanning, saving, enhancing, sharing and printing. Visit his website for more information,

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