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Monday, January 4, 2010

10 Essential Plug-Ins For Pro Results

By Dave Willis Published in Plug-Ins
10 Essential Plug-Ins For Pro Results
Plug-ins provide fast, fun and effective ways to get stellar results from your image enhancements. Designed with simplicity in mind, the best plug-ins are by no means any less effective than Photoshop. Unlike the limitless possibilities of Photoshop, they’re designed from the ground up as singular solutions for specific problems, and performing image edits is often as simple as one-two-three. Compared with the time and effort of learning and executing the same tasks in Photoshop, you’re looking at less complicated enhancements in less time, with excellent results. There are a variety of amazing plug-in solutions available for Photoshop. Here we explore 10 plug-ins with the most to offer photographers and their workflows.

Bokeh

By using selective focus in an image, photographers are able to bring the viewer’s eye to the area of the photo to which they want to attract the most attention. With a camera, this is achieved by using different apertures to affect depth of field. Alien Skin Software’s Bokeh digitally adds selective focus to an image, allowing you to customize focus throughout an image, not just in the area that’s parallel to the image sensor or film plane. Bokeh also allows you to add and subtract effects later, which is something that you can’t do with a shallow depth of field taken in the real world. Another feature of Bokeh is that you can change the namesake “bokeh” of the image, or the unique characteristics of the out-of-focus areas, to fun shapes like stars, hearts and circles. Bokeh also will mimic the unique out-of-focus properties of many popular lens types. List Price: $199.

Dfx v2.0

Designed to digitally simulate and build on the classic looks of Tiffen’s esteemed collection of optical filters, plus a host of other effects, the Dfx v2.0 software edition offer upwards of 2,000 photo filter and special effects presets, and the ability to create unlimited custom variations. There are just too many effects offered to explore in a short write-up, but a few highlights include the ND-Grad mode for introducing graduated brightness transitions in an image without affecting color, a Depth of Field filter for isolating and blurring parts of an image, and B&W Looks with more than three dozen various black-and-white effects. There’s even an 812 Warming Filter for replicating the nostalgic appeal of vintage prints or warming skin tones. You can preview effects and change them while you work, and layering and masking support allows photographers to add effects to as much or as little of an image as needed. Dfx v2.0 is available as a stand-alone app and as a plug-in for Adobe Photoshop or Apple Aperture. List Price: $149 (stand-alone); $299 (plug-in).

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