Monday, January 4, 2010

10 Essential Plug-Ins For Pro Results

Plug-ins provide fast, fun and effective ways to get stellar results from your image enhancements.
By Dave Willis Published in Plug-Ins
10 Essential Plug-Ins For Pro Results

Portrait Professional

For specific enhancements of face, skin and hair, the Portrait Professional photo-editing app includes features developed specifically for use with human appearance. The program has been “taught” through mathematical analysis of hundreds of photos to improve the beauty of the human face by fixing skin blemishes, reducing wrinkles and removing unsightly skin textures like grease, sweat or shine. You also can reshape aspects of the face. A Jaw Slider, for instance, reduces or increases the size of the jaw, respectively adding a slender or healthy appearance. There are enhancements for eye and mouth shapes, too, and hair can be smoothed out, recolored or thickened. The Portrait Professional Studio bundle steps up the offerings with a batch mode for performing enhancements on more than one image, as well as RAW file and 16-bit TIFF support. Estimated Street Price: $69 (Portrait Professional 9); $99 (Portrait Professional Studio).

Portraiture 2

Portraiture 2 from Imagenomic is another great plug-in for circumventing the time-consuming, pixel-by-pixel image enhancements of working with portraits in Photoshop. The program uses intelligent algorithms to smooth skin and remove imperfections. You can adjust Detail Smoothing through sliders for Fine, Medium and Large sizes, and a Portrait Size Auto Detect mode establishes parameters based on the size of the portrait. The masking tool allows you to perform selective smoothing while maintaining skin texture with sliders for choosing the optimum feathering, opacity, fuzziness, hue, saturation and more. You can add sharpness, warmth, tint, brightness and contrast enhancements. The Auto-Mask feature even makes timesaving selections for you based on ranges of skin tones. There are predefined presets that make workflow as simple as a one-click process. You can record your own template for reapplying favorite settings in the future, and there’s an option for outputting the masked range of the image for further adjustment in Photoshop. Versions of Portraiture 2 are available as plug-ins for Aperture and Lightroom. List Price: $199.

Silver Efex Pro

Photoshop has extensive black-and-white conversion options, but Silver Efex Pro from Nik Software provides many more options for customizing the look of monochromatic images directly from the same conversion interface. U Point technology allows you to selectively control tonality and contrast in each part of your image without the need for masking or layers. Silver Efex Pro also includes a collection of 18 popular black-and-white film types, more than 20 one-click preset styles with variable toning and tinting options for simulating traditional toning techniques like sepia and others, and more than 30 other downloadable styles from the Silver Efex Pro site. You even can create your own and upload them for others to use. List Price: $199.

Viveza 2

Updating Nik Software’s award-winning Viveza photo-editing plug-in for Photoshop, Lightroom and Aperture, Viveza 2 adds global image adjustments with levels and curves, structure control for fine detail and texture enhancements, shadow recovery for lightening of shadows selectively (or across the whole image) and improved color control. The timesaving interface has been streamlined as well, with easier slider controls, more effective zoom states and multiple undo levels. Viveza 2 uses U Point Color Control Points for performing precise and selective photo editing by controlling light and color in your images. There also are interactive help and online video tutorials to guide you through the process. Viveza follows a nondestructive Photoshop workflow with Smart Object compatibility. List Price: $199.
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