Some weeks ago I went on to trial Nik Collection. The main reason was to try High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography. I’m not going to try to explain what HDR is as there’s a lot of websites that have covered this in detail.
I first discovered HDR photography when a friend of mine showed me a very well-known HDR photographer’s website: Trey Ratcliff’s stuckincustoms.com. To be honest when I initially saw Trey’s works, a lot of them felt bit too fake for me and I couldn’t come to like them. His works actually made me thought HDR = non-natural looking images, until I saw other sites showing some stunning natural looking HDR images. Then, I said to myself, why not give this a try.
After a lot of research I’ve come to learn there are 2 very popular HDR software: Photomatix and Google’s Nik’s HDR Efex Pro 2; and after further reading Google has now combined 6 stunning softwares into 1 package: Nik Collection which includes HDR Efex Pro 2, Color Efex Pro 4, Silver Efex Pro 2, Viveza 2, Sharperner Pro 3, and Dfine 2 (visit www.niksoftware.com for more info on them). And the best news is the price for this 6 softwares package is just a little bit more than the Photomatix price, especially when you use 15% discount coupon which is available in many sites! Long story short I decided to give Nik Collection’s 15-day trial a go.
I initially thought that I’d only be using the HDR Efex Pro 2, but then after seeing a number of Nik’s free tutorials and what these softwares can do, I got into playing with all the 6 available softwares. On the first few days, I can tell you Nik’s trademark “Create stunning images faster” sounded like a big fat lie to me, but I think as I’m becoming more comfortable with the workflow, it does become faster with experience.
Remember I said that I was going for the natural looking HDR images? Nik Collection is evil! Although I tried to come up with as natural looking images as possible using the HDR Efex Pro 2, as soon as I process my images using Color Efex Pro 4 and playing around with all the filters, my images become…unnatural looking! I must say though I enjoy the process of trialling the filters and then ended with surreal and artistic images. Artistic images which usually you see in the movies, animations, or paintings however these origin from photographs, which is why I like to refer these as photoarts. A few of them actually came up different from how I imagined they would be, but somehow I like them.
My trial period has finished and no I haven’t bought the collection as yet. I’ve been extremely busy at work and home, which unfortunately have taken my time away from photography for the last few weeks. But I think I’ll probably buy the collection as soon as I get back from my upcoming USA/Canada trip (3 weeks to go!) to play around with photos taken during the trip.
In the mean time, below are some samples of my ‘photoarts’ :
Other images processed using Nik Collection can be found on my post a couple of weeks ago Best Photography Locations in Perth.