Easy ways to amazing mono
Discover how to create superb, high-quality black and white conversions using the FREE Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 plug-in from Google
Discover how to produce high-quality black and white conversions with Silver Efex Pro 2.
Software Photoshop or Elements, plus the Gooogle Nik Collection free download Image type An architectural or still-life shot with plenty of texture and detail
The Nik Collection from Google is a suite of pro-quality effects for Photoshop, Elements and Lightroom. The full package of of seven plug-ins used to cost $500 but, back in March 2016, the technology giant decided to make it free to download from www.google.com/nikcollection
Silver Efex Pro 2 is the black and white option in the suite and has long been used by enthusiasts and professionals to create fantastic-looking mono pics with a nod to the film stocks and darkroom techniques of yesteryear. Once downloaded and installed, it appears at the bottom of the Filter menu in Photoshop or Elements, and clicking on it launches the plug-in’s interface.
In this tutorial, we look at the basic workflow of Silver Efex Pro 2, and reveal how to create and control a great-looking mono effect. The finish will emulate the grain structure of fast film and we’ll add a subtle border to give an authentic fine-art feel.
1 Pick an existing Preset from the Library Open your colour image into Photoshop or Elements, and when it’s on screen, go to Filter nik Collection silver Efex Pro 2. The image will appear in the plugin’s interface. On the left is the Preset Library, with 38 options. Select All at the top and click on the Preset or use the cursor keys to scroll through, until you find the general kind of look you want for your image. It doesn’t have to be exactly right, as you can fine-tune the effect. For the example image, we picked the 032 Film Noir 3 Preset. You’ll see a preview of the effect in the main window in the middle of the screen.
2 Make your adjustments At the bottom-right of the interface, select in the Loupe & Histogram panel, and scroll around to get a detailed view of the scene. At the top-right, click the arrow next to Global Adjustments to show Brightness, Contrast and Structure. These options can be further expanded with the arrow alongside, and you can fine-tune the settings to get the effect you want. To make a change to a small part of the scene, expand Selective Adjustments, click the Control Points icon, and then click on the pic. Move the sliders on the floating menu to make your changes. To duplicate a Control Point, hold Alt and drag the icon to another area.
3 Set the film type and finish off
In the Film Types panel, click the dropdown box to choose from different film stocks. If you wish, adjust the film’s character by expanding the menus beneath. With this done, expand the Finishing Adjustments panel, and you can add colour toning, darken the edges with Vignette or Burn Edges, and choose from 14 different types of Image Borders. In each case, you can fine-tune the settings sliders. Once you’ve got a great looking image, click
OK, and the effect will be processed. It’ll appear on a separate Layer in Photoshop, so you can quickly compare it to your original pic.
Before Taken in the Chapter House of Wells Cathedral in Somerset, the oblique angle and detailed stonework lends itself well to an arty mono treatment.
After The contrast and grain structure of fast mono film gives a satisfying, fine-art finish.