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Streetshooter's new Presets for Nik Silver Efex Pro

Discussion in 'Image Processing' started by Ray Sachs, Sep 16, 2012.

  1. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/20889767@N05/7992288574/" title="street-photography-presets1 by ramboorider1, on Flickr">
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
    "578" height="434" alt="street-photography-presets1"></a>

    As a longtime user of Silver Efex Pro B&W processing plug-in and a huge admirer of Streetshooter’s (Don Springer’s) street photography, I was excited when he asked me to try out some street presets he’d created for the program and to share my impressions of them. Don’s presets can be seen and purchased here:

    Street Photography Presets | Lightroom & Nik | Street Presets

    These specific Nik presets are found here:

    Street Photography Presets | Lightroom & Nik | Street Presets

    There’s also another set of several Lightroom presets available on the site, but this discussion is limited to the Nik presets, which I’ve had a chance to preview.

    I tend to use a handful of presets of my own when I work with SEP2, mostly as jumping off points for further processing. I have a handful of presets that have evolved out of my own work and survived the test of time - when I have a new shot to process, I’ll usually try a few of the presets and see which one grabs me and then I’ll use that as a basis for whatever additional processing I feel the shot needs. To check out Don’s presets, I decided to do a bunch of my existing shot using ONLY these new street presets.

    So I grabbed a folder full of shots, imported Don’s presets into Silver Efex Pro 2, and got to work. He has five presets in his collection, a “clean” preset which the others are mostly based on, and then four others that add various other effects to varying degrees. All of the presets create the same sort of feel and personality of B&W film, with a good deal of grain, mostly with some degree of vignetting, and have a very very nice film-like feel to them. I worked a lot with Tri-X in my college days, generally pushed it to 800 or more, and the results that come from these presets are generally what I was trying for in those days, but rarely achieved. All are fairly grainy, but beyond that, there are a number of other changes to other parameters such as exposure, structure, color channel manipulation, some toning, vignetting, etc. All five of these presets are somewhat similar, but each is unique, with its own mix of grain, structure, color channel manipulation, vignette, etc, giving each its own distinctive feel. I can’t really describe the differences in words, so the best approach is just to show some before and after examples of each. For each shot, I pulled the shot into SEP2, and tried applying all five of the presets to it, usually one or two would jump out as most appropriate for that photo, and so then I’d fine-tune it with the one that worked best.

    To start, here are a couple of before and after photos processed with the “clean” preset:

    This is a slightly out of focus shot that I’d initially processed in a manner pretty similar to this preset – I find grain works well with shots that aren’t quite perfectly in focus.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/20889767@N05/7986995121/" title="P1000778 by ramboorider1, on Flickr"> View attachment 230712 "1024" height="683" alt="P1000778"></a>

    This version uses the preset with a slight reduction in “soft contrast”, a couple of control point manipulations, and both vignette and borders added:
    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/20889767@N05/7986995799/" title="Clean Preset by ramboorider1, on Flickr"> View attachment 230713 "1024" height="683" alt="Clean Preset"></a>

    This shot worked best with the clean preset and preset #4 – this is the clean version:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/20889767@N05/7987002958/" title="untitled-299-Edit by ramboorider1, on Flickr">
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
    "800" height="800" alt="untitled-299-Edit"></a>

    This adds nothing to the preset except for a control point on the face and the borders:
    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/20889767@N05/7987004686/" title="Clean Preset (1) by ramboorider1, on Flickr"> View attachment 230714 "800" height="800" alt="Clean Preset (1)"></a>

    The next two photographs are processed using Preset #1:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/20889767@N05/7987004524/" title="DSCF3440 by ramboorider1, on Flickr">
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
    "1024" height="769" alt="DSCF3440"></a>

    For this I reduced soft contrast (this is one of my most often used controls in SEP2), reduced the yellow color channel, and added control points on the face and fabrics:
    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/20889767@N05/7987003606/" title="Preset 1 (1) by ramboorider1, on Flickr"> View attachment 230715 "1024" height="769" alt="Preset 1 (1)"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/20889767@N05/7987003888/" title="P4270071 by ramboorider1, on Flickr">
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
    "800" height="799" alt="P4270071"></a>

    This process just adds a few control points (faces, sky, coat) and borders:
    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/20889767@N05/7987003556/" title="Preset 1 by ramboorider1, on Flickr"> View attachment 230716 "800" height="799" alt="Preset 1"></a>

    The next photograph uses Prest #2:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/20889767@N05/7986994851/" title="PB051898 by ramboorider1, on Flickr"> View attachment 230717 "800" height="800" alt="PB051898"></a>

    For this photo, I reduced soft contrast, added control points on the faces, reduced the red and yellow channels, and added the border. I also reduced the grain size somewhat, but probably should have used even finer grain than this:
    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/20889767@N05/7987003446/" title="Preset 2 by ramboorider1, on Flickr"> View attachment 230718 "800" height="800" alt="Preset 2"></a>

    The next two photos were done with Preset #3:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/20889767@N05/7987003740/" title="PB051883 by ramboorider1, on Flickr"> View attachment 230719 "800" height="800" alt="PB051883"></a>

    This has reduced red channel, addusted vignette, and added borders:
    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/20889767@N05/7986994671/" title="Preset 3 by ramboorider1, on Flickr"> View attachment 230720 "800" height="800" alt="Preset 3"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/20889767@N05/7987004560/" title="DSC01807 by ramboorider1, on Flickr"> View attachment 230721 "1024" height="681" alt="DSC01807"></a>

    This processing only adds a couple of control points, slight increase in vignette, and the border:
    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/20889767@N05/7986994563/" title="Preset 3 by ramboorider1, on Flickr"> View attachment 230722 "1024" height="681" alt="Preset 3"></a>

    Finally, a couple with Preset #4:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/20889767@N05/7987004004/" title="P1000524 by ramboorider1, on Flickr"> View attachment 230723 "1024" height="576" alt="P1000524"></a>

    Here I reduced soft contrast, red and yellow channels, added a couple of control points on faces, and borders:
    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/20889767@N05/7986994421/" title="Preset 4 (2) by ramboorider1, on Flickr"> View attachment 230724 "1024" height="576" alt="Preset 4 (2)"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/20889767@N05/7986994231/" title="R0011609 by ramboorider1, on Flickr"> View attachment 230725 "1024" height="680" alt="R0011609"></a>

    This shot has one added control point (face) and borders – otherwise a pure representation of the preset:
    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/20889767@N05/7987003276/" title="Preset 4 (1) by ramboorider1, on Flickr"> View attachment 230726 "1024" height="680" alt="Preset 4 (1)"></a>

    I like these presets a lot. My own style tends to use a bit less grain, a bit more structure, and a bit less vignette most of the time. I usually end up with a cleaner shot, but that’s partially because I always struggle finding just the right balance with the grittier look. I've always liked it - I just haven't been as good at it. But these new presets give me a MUCH better starting point for the grittier look than I’ve ever gotten on my own. Don really gets the balance between the various elements he manipulates in these presets just right and they create a MUCH better starting point for this kind of work than I've ever gotten to on my own. As a result, I’ll probably incorporate more gritty shots into my repertoire in the future as a result of these presets. I like this grainy look and Don seems to have dialed in JUST the right combination of grain, vignette, exposure, and structure to give anyone a good jump-start in this type of processing.

    If you’ve admired Don’s work, as I have, and sometime wondered how he does it, this will get you a great jump on his processing skills. They EYE, on the other hand, we each have to provide for ourselves, and that’s where his magic mostly happens! But these presets will definitely become part of my workflow – I strongly recommend that anyone interested in this type of B&W photography check them out!
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 21, 2016
    • Like Like x 12
  2. Papadoc

    Papadoc Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 12, 2012
    Way cool. Way. Thanks for the links.
  3. Papadoc

    Papadoc Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 12, 2012
    And the images.
  4. jpplenissart

    jpplenissart Mu-43 Regular

    Thank you Ray for the info, it is the kind of preset that can be powerfull and precious.

    How will you compare theses presets with the B&W grain filter that is incorporated in all Olympus bodies ?

    I imagine that they are incomparably flexibles and customizable, but is the final rendering dramatically ameliorated ?
  5. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    I think the flexibility and customizability of working with Silver Efex Pro, using a preset as a starting point or not, pretty much answers the question. Occasionally you might get something from the B&W grain filter in the camera that you like as much as you could create with a good post processing program, but you should always be able to at least equal it with your own post processing, and in most cases, make it more to your liking given the far greater set of tools at your disposal. The B&W grainy filter in the camera is essentially one preset that you can only slightly manipulate after you apply it. With a post processing tool, you have any number of presets to use as a starting point and an infinite combination of settings at your disposal to fine tune the image.

    • Like Like x 3
  6. twokatmew

    twokatmew Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 1, 2012
    Lansing, MI, US
    Thanks for the pointer and shots, Ray! I've already invested in Topaz plugins, so I either use B&W Effects or LR4.2 for b&w PP. Based on your post and the gallery on the Streetshooter web site, I just invested in the Lightroom version of the plugins. Can't wait to give 'em a whirl. I thought $19.99 seemed a bargain for more b&w options within Lightroom. :biggrin:
  7. Rick Waldroup

    Rick Waldroup Mu-43 Veteran

    May 28, 2009
    Can these presets be used with Silver Efex 1?

    I also use Lightroom 3.
  8. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    I doubt it Rick, because SEP2 has a lot more adjustments. I think you can bring SEP1 presets into SEP2 (although I'm far from sure about that, too), but I don't think the reverse would be true. You could call the folks at Nik to find out for sure, but I think you're gonna come up dry on that one.

  9. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    Thanks, Ray. These presets look great! It's also worth mentioning that they sell for $10, which is what I spent this morning on a cappuccino and breakfast sandwich at Starbucks this morning.
  10. nagual

    nagual Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 25, 2012
    B&W concept is good, but I've got to say, looking at the examples above that is not a good presentation of it, IMO.
    • Like Like x 1
  11. petach

    petach Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 18, 2011
    nice, guys.....real nice. No.1 is exactly the look I used previously but lost and have since been unable to replicate.

  12. digitalandfilm

    digitalandfilm Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jul 18, 2011
    I would agree.. good B&W should have blacks, whites, *and* mid-tones.

    Don't get me wrong.. I like the "Tri-X" grainy thing- but too much of a good thing can ruin it.

    I'm finding that each shot calls for different settings in first LR4.1 then a good fine-tuning with Silver Efex 2.

    View attachment 230812
  13. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    Eye of the beholder and all that. Sometimes i like a wider range of tones, sometimes i like high contrast. Obviously I used these presets for every shot in a discussion of these presets! I did a bunch of shooting yesterday after I'd put this review up and of the first eight to ten shots I've processed, I only ended up using these to process a couple of them. For some other shoots i might end up using them far more - only time will tell. But it's a great arrow to have in the quiver, tool for the toolbox, etc. Having them as an option doesn't mean you'll use them all the time.

  14. digitalandfilm

    digitalandfilm Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jul 18, 2011
    I think, what it comes to, is the Masters Syndrome!

    Let me explain..

    The large majority of todays "street shooters" often read about Henri Cartier-Bresson, Garry Winogrand, Walker Evans, and see "thier style" which is composed of grainy images from fast B&W film and say "Wow- I like that! That's Street Photography!"

    In reality, it's general look and feel was determined by the tools and technologies available to the artist at the time. Think about it.. what the genre is partially composed of is actually 50+ year old film and "stand" development of negatives up to ASA1600.. hence the grain. Can you imagine what we would be seeing if the "Masters" had dozens of "Art Filters" in their camera's?

    I used to shoot B&W as recently as last year.. but find I prefer to spend my time actually shooting (imagine that!) then messing around with old technologies. As a matter of fact, I'm starting to keep the color (with exceptions) and favor it- like another guy from the Bronx: Joel Meyerowitz.


    See iN-PUBLiC | The home of street photography for more Street Shooters
  15. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    I had a whole response to post, but, I don't really want to hijack Don's thread any further with a philosophical discussion of B&W photography. His presets are great tools if its a look you enjoy working with. If not, they're not for you. I do. Sometimes. Sounds like you don't - no problem! They're there for those who want them...

    • Like Like x 1
  16. digitalandfilm

    digitalandfilm Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jul 18, 2011
    I think you missed my point.. I *do* use the presets, but tailored to my own tastes.

    See: celluloid to silicon, images endure. | Black and White

    I was simply trying to shed a bit of light of what my experiences have been with B&W conversions, which are within the confines of this thread.

  17. digitalandfilm

    digitalandfilm Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jul 18, 2011
    Google seems to be interested in the Snapseed App.. I don't think any change will be on the horizon for the other apps.
  18. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    Phila, Pa USA
    I will add one thing to my above statement.
    When I was Admin here and at SC, one thing I never tolerated was the killing of spirit.
    I am aware that there are many shooters of all different levels and never allowed anything to kill the spirit of those especially trying to find their way.

    For the most part, this group is very supportive and helpful and always ready to lend a hand. I made these presets for those shooters that want to find their way out of the box.

    If you see your frame either in the camera or the computer as a box, these presets are not for you.
    If you see all the little nice little tones from black to white with all the nice grey tones in place, these presets are not for you.

    If you see the frame of your images thru the camera or on the computer as a window, these presets may be for you.
    If you want to work to find yourself in your photos, these presets may be for you.

    No one here could ever kill my spirit. I have been on the street for 50 years. It's not me I'm concerned about.
    It's the members that want to find their way and may be afraid to take the next step because they now feel intimidated.
    Next time you guys want to tear a thread apart, remember...your not the only ones reading it....

    Something to say, good or bad, I am always at bluezdon19111@yahoo.com

    thanks for your time and courtesy....don
    • Like Like x 7
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