#466. Nik Software plugins for free (and other news)

By pascaljappy | News

Mar 25

A couple of years ago, Nik was acquired by Google and the cost of the set of LightRoom/Photoshop plugins dropped from $500 to $150. I immediately jumped on board and never regretted it. In recent months, filters have faded away from my typical post-processing workflow but I still think that they are tremendous tools to explore various looks and for inspiration.

Nik Silhouette

Nik Silhouette

If you’ve been on the fence yourself, Google have just made it that much easier for you to fall on the fun side of it by dropping the price to zero. Yes, you can now download the 7-plugin set for free. While the long-term perspective (no maintenance) is probably not what current users would hope for, it’s great news for those who have been holding back. Have fun.


Tintype (c) Eileen Blom & Margaret Muza

For those preferring a more authentic way of creating mood, why not consider tintype? According to this 2 minute video, there are no negatives to this ancient polaroid-style process. Does this mean film or pain?

And, since I’m pouring a few links into this post, here’s one I find interesting for those who enjoy cinema and photography: 10 Movies About Photography Every Photographer Should Watch. The title is pretty explicit and the selection is indeed very nice. Not focused enough ? Why not try Four Awesome Photography Videos That You Should Watch ASAP on Fstoppers.

(c) Stev'nn Hall

(c) Stev’nn Hall

Last but not least, let me end this round-up with an interesting piece from Creative Bloom: Artist merges photography and art to create beautiful impressionist landscapes. Typically, this sort of initiative falls somewhere between oh-hum and tacky but artist Stev’nn Hall achieves something that’s not an easy copy of Monet’s work and goes well beyond “simple” appropriation.  While I’m not (subjectively) convinced by all his mixed media, those involving water are stunning. The juxtaposition of realistic tone and impressionist colours really grabs me. There ain’t no Nik filter for that, just yet 😉

Storm clouds over Provence - Sony A7r and Zeiss C-Sonnar 50/1.5 ZM

Nik-s perfect storm


Email: subscribed: 4
  • David A. Mack says:

    Good Morning;
    Well, once again you’ve touched a really large issue in photography. What to do about all these tools to enhance photos and create art?? To be candid, I struggle with the total lack of a single genome of “Art” in my entire DNA code sequence, as proven my lack of understanding of math above Calculus and struggle with new language skills. German language lab was a disaster! So what to do with all of these great tools? If Art is the mode of expression of how our cultures see the world through the use of media, it begs the question of what does it take to recognize and create that art and avoid “trite”? As we all know, painters make great photographers, but photographers don’t necessarily make good painters. Hmm? Clearly a well composed photograph, properly exposed with an inherent story is the place to start and may itself be art, but when does employing these tools truly enhance the work or change it in a way that may even change the interpretation? To me, so far, that is the biggest challenge I am trying to bridge with photography.
    I took up photography because I can’t draw a stick figure well. It quickly became apparent to me that photography may require the same composition skills, but I was never going to create a “work” like a landscape/portrait like painting tools or not. Finding abstract subjects on walls and posters similar to earlier painters is the only method I’ve discovered so far. That requires that I enhance my visualization skills and maybe use some post processing “tools” to better bring out what I saw. Ah yes, so many shots, so little time.

    • pascaljappy says:

      Hi David. I think the best place to start is to try to put words on the photographs you like from your own production and from others. Not just photographs, in fact, but paintings, sculptures, collages, even music. Anything that moves you. Once you are able to describe these in a semi-formal manner, you can start to work on reproducing these qualities one by one until they become part of your alphabet and second nature. Tools such as Nik are wonderful because you can create all sorts of weird and wonderful looks in very little time. They’re a good experimentation ground. Some filters are really overboard. You’ll naturaly grow tired of them but still retain some of the essence in your post processing. They guide you to places you like or dislike, eliminating the blank page syndrome. I think there is a danger to relying exclusively on them after a while. It’s easy to get trapped into a certain filter without any of your personality showing through. But once you are able to find a style you enjoy and still reflects you, you’re in a really nice spot. I find Paul (Perton) to have mastered that beautifully. His use of filters give his photographs a consistent portfolio feel (whereas mine can be all over the place 😉 ) and yet his personal style really shines through. We’ll discuss all of this in great detail in a couple of weeks 🙂 All the best, Pascal

  • MurphyWasAnOptimist says:

    Pascal, I’ve had the Nik suite for many years now (bought mainly as an upgrade to Silver Efex Pro), and I’ve loved it to pieces — when and where it worked. Again, probably an 80:20 ratio of Silver Efex Pro vs. all the other plug-ins. So I heartily concur with your comments, and I think everyone interested should try them.

    But. There’s a big capital BUT.
    Thom Hogan has just posted a very pertinent caveat, and he puts it so much better than I could, so by your leave I’d like to quote him:

    “Google’s announcement makes it seem clear that they think that mobile device photography is where they’re putting all their attention, and the desktop is dead for them. I don’t expect any additional updates or changes to the Nik Collection, and I don’t know what will happen when one of the big OS (Mac or Windows) or application (e.g. Photoshop) updates breaks it sometime in the future. So I’d consider its use as a free goodie limited in time.

    But the second bitter part is this: by taking Nik Collection down to zero dollars, it’s going to put strain on the companies still selling similar suites (OnOne, MacPhun, and Topaz, mostly). It’s hard to sell against free. MacPhun, in particular, has been making big strides lately with their Creative Kit tools. Topaz has continued to bring new tools to their suite and refined the existing ones quite nicely. And OnOne has taken to integrating their tools into one standalone suite that’s starting to get some Lightroom-like capabilities to it.

    Putting these innovative companies under monetary pressure is one of the things I don’t like Google’s “free” announcement. I believe that we won’t get the kind of innovation and creativity in professional level products unless we pay for them.”

    As a user of Topaz, OnOne and MacPhun products, my sentiments exactly.

    If it’s OK with you, here’s the link to Thom’s post:

    • pascaljappy says:

      Hi, yes, it’s a sad fact of life that the guys at Google destroy businesses without thinking a second about it. It happened to a former colleague of mine who was working insane hours to repay a loan he’d taken out for his startup that fell to pieces when Google pulled the plug on his product. David rearely wins against Goliath. I also feel sad for the guys at Nik. Sure, they got to divest their company and are probably well off today. But to see your product thrown to the trash can’t be pleasant.

      Still, I think photographers should take this free offer as an opportunity to try digital filters (my ratio is also very strongly in favour of Silver Efex) and spend the saved money on excellent products from Topaz (Paul Perton loves them) OnOne and MacPhun.

      The fact that Google see digital photography going the way of the Smartphone is what troubles me most. Given their size and influence on the market, their profecies are often self-fulfilling. In other words, had Google wanted to support high quality over ease of photography, they could have. They guys have spent so many millions (billions ?) on experimentation, on project that work out and others that don’t, theat I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t have damaged their business model to continue supporting a quality product. That they didn’t, to focus on mass market, seems strangely at odds with their promise of making the world a better one …

  • >