Tip Tuesday: HED Memorable Photos in a Few Clicks

Regardless of your capabilities behind a camera, any image that you take can benefit from a little enhancement—maybe an extra hit of sharpness or a boost in color. You have a plethora of filters for those that you take with your iPhone or Android (Instagram alone has at least two dozen and counting). While there’s Photoshop for budding photo-editors who prefer to work on a desktop, you need to have some understanding of the different adjustment tools in order to make drastic—and eye-catching—artwork.

Google’s Nik Collection, with its suite of photo-editing plug-ins, actually pre-dates the filters available for free on smartphones. Once carrying a $149 price tag, the collection now has an irresistible price: $0.

(Before I continue, understand that taking a good photograph is paramount. No amount of recipes—more on this later—can polish a poorly shot, poorly composed image. So remember, if nothing else, to keep your hand as steady as humanly possible, and fix the focus on your subject before pressing the shutter.)

Nik Collection’s seven-piece suite of plug-ins will complement any imaginable photo-editing requirement. There’s Silver Efex Pro for darkroom-inspired black and white adjustments; HDR Efex Pro to make landscape and nature images more dramatic, or Sharpener Pro to bring out subtle details and textures from your portraits. Analog Efex Pro 2 even mimics classic cameras with their bokeh-like effects.

Adding these effects is easy—open an image, then launch the corresponding plug-in from the panel in your workspace. Once there, it’s a matter of clicking through the filters to see how it would look on the current photo. Layer the adjustments if necessary—think bleach bypass and low key together—but they have to be in the same plug-in. Those that you use often can be saved as recipes, or collections of filters, for one-click application in future projects.


You can even take this one step further with Photoshop’s Actions. Save a recipe and batch-process a folder of images even while you’re away from your machine.

Although the program is no longer being updated, and full compatibility is only guaranteed until Photoshop CC 2015, the Nik Collection continues to churn out beautifully edited photographs with the current version. (At the time of writing, the latest release is CC 2017.) Download at http://www.google.com/nikcollection.

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