“Silver Efex Pro 2 is one of the most popular tools for replicating the darkroom”
BASIC EDITS The RAW file is opened in Adobe Camera Raw. Lens Corrections are applied then the Auto tab under the Basic menu is checked. Clarity is increased then the image is opened in Photoshop and saved as a TIFF file. The image is enlarged to 100% and sensor blemishes are removed using the Healing Brush Tool.
SILVER EFEX PRO 2 This is used for converting to mono. The High Structure (Smooth) preset is selected from the presets on the left of the screen, then Contrast and Brightness are adjusted using sliders on the right of the screen.
BACK TO PHOTOSHOP The image is opened again in Photoshop and a duplicate layer is made. The Polygonal Lasso Tool is selected, feathering set to 1 pixel, the image is enlarged to 400% and the outline of the skyline and sky is carefully selected using the Lasso Tool.
DARKEN THE SKY The sky is darkened using Image> Adjustments> Curves to add drama and impact and also make the buildings on the skyline stand out. The image is again enlarged to 100% and the sky checked for sensor blemishes.
BRIGHTEN The water in the foreground of the image looks quite drab. Using the Polygonal Lasso Tool set to a feathering of 20 pixels, this area of the image is selected. Next, the water is brightened using Image> Adjustments> Levels and dragging the Midtone slider to the left.
INCREASE CONTRAST The image is starting to take shape, but it’s still lacking drama. Contrast is boosted across the entire image using Image> Adjustments> Curves then selecting the Medium Contrast preset from the drop-down menu in the Curves window.
ADD ATMOSPHERE Another duplicate layer is created then using the Polygonal Lasso Tool again, set to a feathering of 1 pixel, individual buildings on the skyline are selected and contrast/exposure adjustments are made using Levels or Curves. This is done to taste to give the image a slightly surreal look.
DODGE AND BURN The Dodge/Burn tools in Photoshop can also be used on images like this, to selectively lighten or darken parts of the image to enhance the look even more. You need to keep the Exposure set quite low (15% or lower) and build up the effect slowly, otherwise you’ll leave tell-tale signs on the image.
AFTER MANHATTAN FROM LIBERTY STATE PARK, NEW YORK it took around 60 minutes of computer work to process and edit this image from start to finish