Silver Efex Pro 2 - any tips or advice?

Discussion in 'Image Processing' started by applemint, Jan 10, 2013.

  1. applemint

    applemint TalkEmount Veteran

    Sep 20, 2012
    Have downloaded and (after a few teething troubles grr) installed the free demo version of Silver Efex Pro 2 - have played around with editing a few photos, but don't really know what I am doing. :D Nothing new there, but as I know there are a few Silver Efex Pro 2 users on here, do you have a specific workflow or just any tips in general? Links to good tutorials etc also welcome. I had a read of the 'getting started' pdf and I know there are a few videos on their site, but I am a bit lost as to where to start.

    Edit: Just watched this by Steve Huff and Puff - should be enough to get me started on the basics. :D Tips, advice and similar links still welcome though of course.

  2. Rich

    Rich TalkEmount Veteran

    Nov 20, 2012
    Salisbury UK
    Oh boy, there's a question!
    Well done for getting it first of all, you will not be disappointed, its an amazing piece of software!
    I don't use it as much as I should, but I'm hoping to get back to it shortly, other work has got in the way.

    I'm no expert, I will confess that up front. When I first got it, I was very confused by all the available adjustments. What I did was to import a picture and simply went through all the pre-set styles.

    When I found one I liked, I think it might have been "Wet Rocks", I started playing with the various film simulations, followed by the toning controls, and all the other sliders one by one, until I hit a version of the picture that I liked.
    And thats what I do now really. Just toggle through all the pre-sets. Find one that suits your picture and gives you a look that you like, or comes close to the vision you have in your mind for that picture, and then refine it with the other controls. It really is good fun.

    When it comes to processing whether Lightroom, Photoshop or Silver, if it looks right, it is right!

    Put a picture in there and play with all the settings. Remember, the rule is, there are no rules!

    I am sure that you will get some sensible answers from more experienced and knowledgable users than me. I'd like to hear from some others on this one as well.

    Anyway. For what its worth, I hope that helps. Enjoy!

    All the best.


    Edit: Thanks for posting the video, I learnt a few things there.
  3. ChangshaNotes

    ChangshaNotes Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Aug 15, 2012
    If you are playing around with it and find a look you like, remember to save it as a preset. (button in the lower left-hand corner) so that you can apply it again to other photos without trying to remember everything you did. Do this before you make fine adjustments with control points.
  4. applemint

    applemint TalkEmount Veteran

    Sep 20, 2012
    First attempts with a photo of Stirling Castle: :)


  5. Rich

    Rich TalkEmount Veteran

    Nov 20, 2012
    Salisbury UK
    Looking good!
    I like both versions. :D

    Edit: One of the things I like about the NEX is its ability to give that old "film" look!
    Especially when files are run through SE :cool:
  6. applemint

    applemint TalkEmount Veteran

    Sep 20, 2012
  7. freddytto

    freddytto TalkEmount All-Pro

    Dec 2, 2011
    Puebla, Mexico
    hello friend, I use 98% This software and let me tell you it is a great program for all your photographs in B / W, you can save the presets according to your preferences, you can also add control points (as you want) at any area in the picture, so they can give more effect, adding more contrast, brightness, etc

    There is the option to apply some color filters, in the last part you can add grain, or choose any presets already there, like kodak, fuji,Agfa, there have many options, and even add a border and vignette.

    Look at my page, I have some examples here.

    After the Superstorm Sandy « Street Photography por Freddytto Robles

    Untitled by Freddytto Robles, on Flickr

    Untitled by Freddytto Robles, on Flickr
  8. applemint

    applemint TalkEmount Veteran

    Sep 20, 2012
    Thanks Freddy - those are great especially the second one.

    Do you start with one of the presets and work from there or do you just start off in the panel on the right? I guess presets are just a starting point, just like they are in lightroom, but I was not too keen on any of them.

    I was starting with the panel on the right and working my way down (as that's what I do in lightroom - get the WB and exposure right (if required) before doing anything else).

    But with Silver Effects P2 I would work my way down and then get to the film styles and they all made my image look totally different (in a few cases improved it a bit but in most cases not). So basically it just undid all the work I had already done!

    So I am guessing it's better to START with a film style (if wanted) and then make the other adjustments.

    I found this comment posted on another site - which says to choose a film effect first (if any) which seems to make sense in terms of workflow:

    "The trick I use in SEP2 is that before I do anything I decide if I want to apply a film effect first. There is are a range of film simulations that not only simulate grain but also simulates the film's response curve, particularly the foot and shoulder's curves which affect black and white rendition and how well a film holds it's details on the low and high end of the zone system scale. Applying the film first changes the feel of the image's contrast significantly. Agfa film for example is much softer than Kodak Tmax 100, and you want to take that into account before you make any adjustments or you'll end up with an image that looked nothing like what you adjusted prior to applying film effect. It's really an approach like working with large format film: you always determine your exposure and development type based on the film you want to use to render the feel you want to express.

    After the film I then go after the brightness, contrast, and structure, followed by control points (I think of control points like the dodging and burning step in a dark room) and then apply edge burn or vignette, then the border, followed by tone (I'm a selenium fan). If you've ever had or been in a darkroom, the steps are exactly the same."

    From here: Fun With Silver Efex Pro*2 - ApertureExpert Tips - (first 'reader comment').

    Think I will try doing it that way from now on.
  9. olli

    olli TalkEmount Veteran

    Aug 16, 2011
    Washington DC
    Just to give an alternative viewpoint, I used to use SEP - both V1 and V2 - but I don't any more. Partly because my preferred 'look' for b&w has changed over the years and I no longer find I need SEP to achieve it. Partly because LR has evolved its capacity for B&W conversion so much in successive generations that I now find I need nothing more than LR4 to get what I'm after. All of the B&W images on my website and my 500px site were done entirely with LR. Depending on the look you are going for you might find that you don't need SEP (though I can't speak for any alternative programme other than LR).

    One piece of advice (based on my own mistakes, all of which I subsequently deleted) is not to get too carried away with 'dramatic' skies. Like many first time users of SEP I got a bit carried away and ended up with far too many horribly overcooked images.:)
  10. Grisu_HDH

    Grisu_HDH TalkEmount Veteran

    Dec 16, 2012
    Southern Germany
    Really nice shots in B/W.
    I'm doing all my B/W stuff with Photoshop Elements 11 at the moment.
    Does Silver Efex does really make a difference??
    Grrrrr.... there's so many great software out there I would like to have...
    NeatImage or NoiseWare, Silver Efex, HDR Efex ...
    And all sooooo expensive.... :-(
  11. Rich

    Rich TalkEmount Veteran

    Nov 20, 2012
    Salisbury UK
    applemint. I love black and white and I love using SEP, but I find it very difficult. Sometimes I can find a pre-set that works as a base, and if I'm in the right mood I can fiddle for hours to get the picture right. Sometimes I have to walk away from it!
    Fortunately, now I have learned when to walk away if its not working! ;)

    A steep learning curve for sure..........but fun..........sometimes! :D

    Stick with it my friend.
  12. applemint

    applemint TalkEmount Veteran

    Sep 20, 2012
    Found a few more useful videos/ video tutorials:

    Composing for Black and White
    By John Batdorff
    In this episode, award-winning landscape and travel photographer John Batdorff shows viewers what he looks for in the field when he's composing images for black and white. (8 minutes)
    Composing for Black and White | Peachpit

    Martin Bailey. Silver Efex Pro 2 Walkthrough - 30 minutes. Quite a long video (but hey when there is nothing on TV - watch this intead) Has some great examples of colour photos which are enhanced by being converted to black and white, followed by a step by step of converting an image in SEP2. Narrator has a British accent for those of use who are allergic to the overuse of the word awesome. :)


    Silver Efex Pro 2 Tutorial for High Def Black-and-White Photography by Erika Barker. Quite helpful short video (despite the overuse of the word awesome). Example of a portrait conversion from colour to black and white using a nice simple approach - using a preset as a starting point and then using control points.

    [video=youtube;d5oRdAQudOI] [/video]

    For those who prefer reading to watching there is a step-by-step walkthrough here: (Only problem is that he also uses Color Efex Pro 3.0 and Sharpener Pro 3.0 as well - more expensive Nik software)
    Bret Edge Photography » From Color to Monochrome With Nik Software Silver Efex Pro 2
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