Good b/w can be surprisingly hard to do with Photoshop. A plug-in can help
Photo: Mikko Reinikainen, mikkoreinikainen.fi
If you read our monthly Fix It Fast department you know how much we love Nik’s Silver Efex Pro 2 plug-in. It is simply the fastest way we know to create really beautiful black-and-white photographs from color image files.
But while it’s easy to make conversions once you get the hang of the software, Silver Efex’s tool names and selective adjustment controls aren’t necessarily intuitive to a new user. And if you’ve never used a plug-in before, the way it works can be confusing at first.
A plug-in acts as a program within a program, so to work with Silver Efex, you need to open it within one of its supported applications, such as Adobe Photoshop or Apple Aperture. In Photoshop, after you’ve made your adjustments, Silver Efex closes and can output your b&w conversion to a new layer. In RAW workflow programs such as Aperture or Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, Silver Efex can bring your converted file back in as a TIFF.
Here’s an intro to working with Silver Efex that will show you how and when to use some of its unusual features. You will quickly see how different (and more efficient) it is to make a b&w conversion in this plug-in compared with using one of Photoshop’s tools.