Converting a difficult image to Black & White with Silver Efex Pro

Hi, it’s been a while since I did a video tutorial so here’s an old one about a plug-in that suddenly is "hot" again. It’s about converting a "difficult" image with a very bright sky into a dramatic Black & White with lots of sky detail. Done with my Black & White conversion plugin of choice: Silver Efex Pro. The video also shares some tips on file preparation before you enter the plugin. Please note that the info at the end of the video regarding discounts and pricing is no longer accurate. In fact, that's why I wrote that five year old Silver Efex Pro is hot again: while Silver Efex Pro 2 used to be a $199 purchase, it’s now only available as a bundle (the "Nik Collection by Google") with the other 6 Nik plugins and… it has now become completely free! Yes that's free as in F.R.E.E.! That means that Silver Efex Pro is no longer only one of the best Black & White plug-ins out there, it's definitely the cheapest one! More about that in this blog post.

Sure enough, at that price, it probably won't receive any new features any time soon but I don't really care. It's got all the features I need and the Control Point technology is still as amazingly simple to use as it was more than five years ago when the software was released.

The best Black & White plug-in for Lightroom and Photoshop just became free!

In this eBook about Dynamic Range, I talk about HDR Efex Pro and I also explain a cool technique on how to use a Black & White plug-in like Silver Efex Pro 2 to enhance the dynamic range of my colour images.

In this eBook about Dynamic Range, I talk about HDR Efex Pro and I also explain a cool technique on how to use a Black & White plug-in like Silver Efex Pro 2 to enhance the dynamic range of my colour images.

If you've followed me online or read some of my eBooks, like Pushing Light, it probably does not come as a surprise that I'm a big fan of the Nik plug-ins. Years ago, you had to pony up some $500 to get the entire suite but after Google purchased Nik about four years ago, they slashed the price down to $149. An absolute bargain. True, apart from Analog Efex Pro, an interesting plug-in that lets you simulate old-school film processes, Google did not really update any of the other plug-ins. There were only compatibility fixes when new OS updates came out. It seemed that Google had mainly purchased Nik for Snapseed, which is a great (and free) iOS and Android mobile editing app. 

The best Nik plug-ins are the creative ones: Viveza, Silver Efex, Color Efex, HDR Efex and Analog Efex.

The best Nik plug-ins are the creative ones: Viveza, Silver Efex, Color Efex, HDR Efex and Analog Efex.

Yesterday, Google announced that the Nik Collection would follow the same pricing path as its mobile sibling. Yes, you've read that right: the once so expensive Nik Collection is now entirely free! You can start downloading it right now through this link.

Obviously, this probably means that we don't have to expect new features any time soon but you know what? The existing features actually work pretty well! In fact, even though it's been over 5 years since Silver Efex Pro 2 came out, I still consider it to be the best Black & White plug-in on the planet. Period.

Silver Efex Pro in action. The unique feature about Nik that you find in all of the plug-ins is the fact that you can quickly and easily make local edits without having to create complex masks: the amazing, patented U-Point Technology does the job for you.

Silver Efex Pro in action. The unique feature about Nik that you find in all of the plug-ins is the fact that you can quickly and easily make local edits without having to create complex masks: the amazing, patented U-Point Technology does the job for you.

If you happen to speak Dutch, you can sign up for a 2 week free trial to Photofacts Academy, my Dutch Photography Training website. I've got a 4 hour course on Nik Software, including some very cool tips and special techniques.

If you don't, the links below will take you to some of my English Nik tutorials.