Boats at Varanasi, revisited.

Blogging with WordPress.

The last few weeks have seen me making a few revisions to my WordPress blog.  These revisions, or repairs if you like,  were prompted by the discovery that I have/had numerous broken links to image files from entries posted over a year ago, and required,  in some cases,  reprocessing some of those images.      This has actually been an interesting,  if time-consuming,  process as I’m now approaching the processing of images in a different way due to things I’ve learnt over the last year or two and also due to new software that has become available.

Experiments with Nik Color Efex Pro.

One such piece of imaging software is Nik Software’s Color Efex Pro.  (Please note that Nik is a US-based company hence the mis-spelling of Colour ) 😉   The software is a plugin that can be used (depending on which version you get) with Photoshop,  Lightroom or Aperture.    The effects available in CFX Pro could no doubt be achieved through careful use of Photoshop’s own filters but the ease of use in the Nik plugin makes it an interesting and useful product.    Having used the plugin for a few weeks now,  I’m impressed by the intuitive user interface, responsiveness, and efficiency in terms of time spent at the computer.

One of the images which I’ve reprocessed and updated is the Boats on the Ganges at sunrise image which I captured at Varanasi back in April,  2010.   I re-posted and updated the links for that image and blog entry with pretty much the same processing ie;  Adobe Lightroom, with only minor changes to colour saturation,  vibrance, and contrast.    Here’s a reminder of what the image originally looked like:

Boats on the Ganges at sunrise, Varanasi, India.

…. and here is the reprocessed image using CFX Pro….

Boats on the Ganges at sunrise, Varanasi, India. (CFX processing)

.….. I think you’ll agree a fairly dramatic difference.

Whether the new version is preferable or not is really a matter of personal taste.   I think when I presented the original image,  I made the comment that it was an “impressionist” interpretation or words to that effect.  Well in the new version we’ve moved even further from a strict documentary image to something that is really taking some liberties!   The colours are not realistic by any means and maybe the image is now more about evoking a feeling rather than being a strict record of what was there.     Make up your own mind about whether you like this approach or not,  for me,  I feel like I now have two very different images both of which I like in different ways.     In any case, it’s an interesting example of what can be achieved in a few keystrokes with the plugin.

For those who may wish to experiment with the plugin,  it can be downloaded for trial via Nik’s website.    For those who ultimately wish to purchase it,  there are numerous websites that offer 15% discount codes.   Unfortunately, these discount codes appear to be for US-based users,  not available to Australian users,  here we go again!   Don’t get me started!

Using Color Efex Pro filters

Filters used:

  • – Brilliance/Warmth, this filter affects colour saturation and colour temperature.

  • – Classical Soft Focus, which applies a diffusion filter.

  • – Color Stylizer, which applies a colour toning to the image.

All of these filters have a number of preset values which can be navigated quickly and then applied with the capability to go in and further refine each effect according to your taste.   For this image I tweaked one of the Brilliance/Warmth default presets to reduce the strength of the effect,  the other two filters were used at default settings.   With the filters stacked,  it is a simple matter to go back into each filter and “season to taste”.    To give a comparison of before and after filter effects were applied,  here’s a screengrab of CFX Pro’s split-screen mode.

Boats on the Ganges, Varanasi. Before and after

Finally,  you’ll notice that I chose to crop into the sky on the new version.    The increase in contrast has washed out some of the light tonings in the sky,  something that I could have worked around if I’d wished.

As usual, I welcome any comments you may have and a reminder that you can stay up to date by subscribing to the blog!      ~KD.