Nik Software Solution – Before & After

by Rick Diffley on May 3, 2012

Original Image As Shot

Nik Software Solution – Before & After

What I’m calling the “Nik Software Solution“ is the image editing software I started using last Thanksgiving. I purchased: Viveza, Color Efex Pro 4, Dfine, and Sharpener Pro at the time because there was a great good sale.

Nik Software has revolutionized my editing process. Gone is Photoshop CS. Sort of sad because I spend many months really digging in learning PS and starting shooting RAW to maximize all tools. In its place is Nikon Capture NX2, a RAW photo editor specifically for Nikon images, and Photoshop Elements.

I went with Elements for three reasons: First, I didn’t want to spend the money to upgrade to a new version of Photoshop CS. Second, it serves as the host for the Nik Software plug-ins. Finally, its tools work pretty darn well, although I rely on Nik Software filters to make most of my editing and it is easy and quick!

Editing Time

Using Nik Software it took me about 5 minutes to transform the above image, as shot, to the edited version below. Honestly, I’m not knocking Photoshop, Lightroom, or any other image editing program. The question is how much effort and time to you want to spend editing your images to get terrific results?

Capture Information

It was a perfect day for shooting Macro images here in Spokane; overcast and slightly raining.

I was driving down the street, looked over, and observed a long row of red Tulips in a yard next to the sidewalk. Finding three red tulips lined up close together without a lot of clutter around them is a gem! I prefer either shooting one of something or three. The background for the tulips was a large group of dark tall green shrubs, perfect for this shot.

The image was captured (hand-held) with a Nikon D300, manual mode, Tamron 90mm macro lens (Focal 90mm), ISO 400, SS = 1/6000, f/3.2.

Nik Software Solution

What I Was After

Honestly, when I got home and viewed the original image I wasn’t that thrilled. I almost deleted it! However, I know Nik Software plug-in filters could be the solution to turn a so-so image into something workable. I had a picture in my mind, but didn’t know how it would look or turn out until I starting playing with the various plug-in filters.

I wanted a dreamy, slightly soft focus look in the final image. I new I had to make the middle red tulip standout more and be the focus for the viewer. The background needed to be blurred a little more and some of its detail removed to make a smooth, consistent looking background.

Nik Software Filter Details

OK, so here’s my five minute makeover using a variety of Nik Software filters.  I always open the image in Nikon Capture NX2 to simply check and at times perform a little color corrections. From there, the image is saved as a .tiff file and imported to Photoshop Elements. Below, you will notice that with each filter listed I provide the specific application applied by using a Nik Software “color control point” and moving individual sliders for the effect. You have the choice to apply the effects globally (That is, to the whole image.) or selectively. To actually see how this works checkout this short video: Nik Software Controls. Here is a list and description of Color Efex 4 filters.

Note: Just think, it took me longer to write this portion of the article then actually applying the Nik Software solution to the image (-:

Color Efex Pro 4: Classical Soft Focus filter > Method #1, Diffused detail = 0 > Strength = 42%, Brightness = 22%. Note: I used a negative single ”color control point” on the center tulips so the effect would not be applied.

Color Efex Pro 4: Brilliance/Warmth filter > Saturation = -20%, Warmth = 30%.

Color Efex Pro 4: Detail Extractor filter > Extractor = 36%, Contrast = 26%, Saturation = 5%.

Viveza 2: Used “color control points” to decrease the brightness in some areas of the background, reduce contrast, and reduce structure or detail in the green shrub background.

Pro Sharpener: Nothing to it. Simply use a slider to apply the decree of sharpening for the whole image or selectively using “color control points.”

Other Articles You May Find Useful

The Art of Seeing: The Rules of Photography

“Exceptional Contrast – How to Improve Your Image Taking”

“Nik Software – Post Processing & Where the Excitement Happens


- The End (Almost) -

First, thank you for stopping by and reading about the Nik Software Solution(s)!

Second, I really hope that you get inspired to go out and create what I call “Picture Perfect” shots.

Third, it takes practice. I didn’t pickup my Nikon D300 and produce good shots. I try and shoot everyday. Why? Read this great and truth-be-told article posted in Outdoor Photography magazine: “Never Stop Shooting” by Ian Plant.

Finally, I want you to be aware of the power of Nik Software and how it can turn a so-so image into some thing promising! Even a keeper (-:



{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Cardinal Guzman May 4, 2012 at 12:18 PM

Of these two I actually prefer the original.


Rick Diffley May 4, 2012 at 12:51 PM

Thanks for stopping in. What makes the 1st image work for you vs the edited version?


Cardinal Guzman May 7, 2012 at 1:35 PM

The background is darker: it makes the flowers & drops of water stand out more from the photo and be more clear.


lynne ayers May 7, 2012 at 4:29 PM

Actually, I really like original as well. I find in the edited version that the middle and right flower are competing for attention. It’s stunning.


Patti Kuche June 12, 2012 at 10:01 AM

Rick, I was shocked to read that you almost deleted the original photo which is such a dramatic shot! The second version is the more preferable when viewed from more of a distance, beautiful! Plus, you could not have one without the other!


James Partridge October 25, 2013 at 2:02 PM

The detail looks nice on the edited image, especially on the middle tulip however it feels a bit over processed. I prefer the tone of the original though. The deeper reds in the tulip stand out and give a warmer feel to the image as a whole. It’s a beautiful shot though no doubt. If I was to want to make the middle tulip stand out then I would have lowered my point of view slightly, shifted to the left and maybe even exclude the left tulip, but that’s my preference. In terms of processing this image, you could do a little more dodging and burning to make the middle tulip stand out more and use the excellent sharpening tools that the Nik software provides. Please don’t take this as criticism, we’re all different!


Rick Diffley October 26, 2013 at 10:57 AM

Thanks James for taking the time to view this blog post and share your comments.

>> “Please don’t take this as criticism, we’re all different!” – Not a concern and I welcome it! I welcome viewer comments, but Word Press Daily Photo Challenge usually is not the place where folks are willing to provide detailed feedback. So, I rely on other dedicated sites where it is expected.

>> “shifted to the left and maybe even exclude the left tulip, but that’s my preference.” I can see where that would work. Although, I usually look for to shoot either 1 or 3 of something (Rarely, an even number) that is my main subject.

Come back anytime and share your thoughts!


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