Nik HDR Efex Pro

HDR imaging has emerged as a serious tool for photographers, and this new application from Nik is one of the most robust solutions we’ve used. Setting it apart are multiple tone-mapping algorithms, from photo-realistic to otherworldly, giving you broad creative latitude in an easy-to-use tool.

If you’ve used Nik software before, the interface will be immediately familiar, complete with Nik’s Control Points with U Point technology for localized adjustments. You can use HDR Efex Pro to enhance the apparent dynamic range of a single image, or use it with multiple images at varied exposure values for true dynamic range expansion.

Nik HDR Efex Pro is compatible with Adobe Photoshop, Bridge and Lightroom, and Apple Aperture. List Price: $159.

Contact: Nik Software, (888) 284-4085, www.niksoftware.com.

GETTING STARTED

To merge multiple exposures into a single HDR image with Photoshop as your host application (the exact steps vary depending on your host software), go to File > Automate > HDR Efex Pro, and select the files. A composite image will automatically launch in the HDR Efex Pro interface.

To apply HDR effects to a single image, you’ll first need to convert it to 32-bit color (the HDR Efex Pro option under “Filters” will be grayed out until you do this). Go to Image > Mode > 32 Bits/Channel. Then go to Filter > Nik Software > HDR Efex Pro.

PREVIEW

These controls allow you to turn a preview of the effects on and off, and select from one-up, split viewer (shown here) or side-by-side before and after.

WORKSPACE CONTROLS

Here you can adjust the zoom level of your image preview and also select white, gray or black as the workspace background color. You also can toggle the control palette on and off for a larger, unobstructed view of your image.

PRESETS

Over 50 preset effects let you easily experiment with different looks, from realistic to wild. All of these presets can be fine-tuned with global adjustments and Control Points.

TONE COMPRESSION

This is the slider that controls the amount of tone compression—the main effect of HDR techniques.


GLOBAL ADJUSTMENTS

Here are sliders to let you fine-tune the included Presets or create your own. Changes you make here will be applied to the entire image.

FINISHING ADJUSTMENTS

With these options, you can add a Vignette to focus the viewer’s attention and also adjust the image’s Levels and Curves.

CONTROL POINTS

One of our favorite features of Nik Software apps are their Control Points, which make it easy to selectively adjust specific areas of an image without complex masking. Simply add a Control Point to the area you want to adjust, and use the sliders to adjust the radius of the effect, along with exposure, contrast, saturation, HDR method strength and all of the other adjustments available in the Global Adjustments palette. This allows really fine control over your finished image, as you can increase or decrease adjustments only where you need to.

CONTROL POINT PALETTE

Listed here are all of the Control Points you’ve placed on the image. The percentage value represents the size of a Control Point’s effect as a percentage of the total image size. You can uncheck any of the Control Points to see the image without the effects of that point. Clicking on the far-right check box gives you a black-and-white preview of the areas of the image affected by the Control Point similar to a mask preview in Photoshop.

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