The Macphun Creative Kit XXL: over $2000 worth of software for only $129

If you're a Mac user, chances are that you've already heard of Macphun software. 

Macphun creates a number of interesting photo plug-ins for Lightroom and Photoshop. Their plugins can be purchased separately, but you can also get them in a bundle: the Creative Kit. For a limited time (until the end of May), Macphun has a special version of that Creative Kit, called the Creative Kit XXL, on sale. Basically, it's a bundle of the Creative Kit and a bunch of other photography related resources, such as eBooks, training videos, actions, textures and a bunch of Lightroom presets, including an unreleased set of my own!

When purchased separately, the total bundle would set you back over $2000 or €2000. Until the end of May, it's only $129 or €145 - the price difference between dollar and Euro is because of European VAT. In any case, it represents a savings of over 90 percent. And even if you aren't interested in all of the content, there's bound to be enough that interests you to make this killer deal worth your while.

I did the exercise and here's my personal top-10 of software and extras that are included in the bundle:

1.    Tonality CK

This Macphun Lightroom and Photoshop plug-in is one of the best plug-ins for creating great Black and White pictures. It comes loaded with presets for quick results but it caters to advanced users, too. One of the coolest features in my opinion is the fact that you can work with layers and layer masks inside of the plug-in. So, for example, you can combine the sky of one preset with the foreground of another. Or you can add a separate dodge & burn layer or a separate creative sharpening layer and work selectively in those layers.

Tonality is normally €60, but now it's included in the Macphun Creative Kit XXL.

Converting this image from a bland to a powerful Black and White was a breeze with Tonality Pro. Thanks to the built-in layers and layer masks, it's easy to combine several looks into one or to add a dodge and burn layer for selectively brightening parts of the image, as I did here with the jacket. By the way, this is the Dutch interface. The App is obviously available in English, too!

Converting this image from a bland to a powerful Black and White was a breeze with Tonality Pro. Thanks to the built-in layers and layer masks, it's easy to combine several looks into one or to add a dodge and burn layer for selectively brightening parts of the image, as I did here with the jacket. By the way, this is the Dutch interface. The App is obviously available in English, too!

2.    Intensify Pro

This is my second favorite Macphun plug-in: as its name implies, it lets you intensify your pictures. Think of it as Lightroom's Clarity slider on steroids. Intensify gives you incredible control over the texture, structure and sharpness in your images. 

Intensify is normally €60, but now it's included in the Macphun Creative Kit XXL.

All it took was one click on an Intensify preset to add more drama and mood to this image. And the sensor dust it brought out? That's an easy fix for Snapheal.

All it took was one click on an Intensify preset to add more drama and mood to this image. And the sensor dust it brought out? That's an easy fix for Snapheal.

3.    Snapheal

This third Macphun plug-in is great for removing unwanted elements like dust spots or power lines from your images. It's more powerful than Lightroom's Spot Removal tool and as such it's a great plug-in for Lightroom users that don't have Photoshop.

Snapheal is normally €50, but now it's included in the Macphun Creative Kit XXL.

4.    Africa with Athena. A photographic adventure.

A video-tutorial on shooting in South-Africa with award-winning photographer Athena Carey and filmed by talented Dutch photographer and filmer Armand Dijkstra (he's the guy that makes some of Joel Tjintjelaar's videos).

Normally € 68, now included in the Macphun Creative Kit XXL.

5.    Frank Doorhof's Live in Boston video.

The Dutch King of Fashion Photography and Training needs no further introduction! There's always something to learn from Frank. Normally €45, now included in the Macphun Creative Kit XXL.

6.    The Essentials of Street Photography eBook by James Maher.

An eBook on the increasingly popular genre of street photography. Normally €23, now included in the Macphun Creative Kit XXL.

7.    Getting Started with Portrait Retouching by Lesa Snider.

A tutorial video on portrait retouching. Normally €57, now included in the Macphun Creative Kit XXL.

8.    HDR with luminosity masks.

A video tutorial by Howard Snyder. Luminosity masks are a great way to have fine control over your images. If you're a landscape photographer, you have to know about them. Luminosity masking is one of the few things I leave Lightroom for and turn to Photoshop. Normally €68, now it's included in the Macphun Creative Kit XXL.

9.    Landscape eBook bundle by Nature Photo Guides.

If you're planning a trip to Iceland or Death Valley, these ebooks will help you get the most out of these places. Normally €57, now included in the Macphun Creative Kit XXL.

10. MoreThanWords Preset Mix Vol. 01.

Yes, that's right. I'm in the bundle, too. I've contributed a set of 20 Lightroom presets that aren't yet available elsewhere. If you like my Colorific Colour Grading Presets or my Black and White presets, you'll love these, too. Normally, they're €20, now ... you guessed it, they're included in the Macphun Creative Kit XXL. If you love Lightroom presets, there are hundreds more in the bundle, including the ones from Contrastly (by themselves another €112 value).

One click on the 'Warm Fuzzy Feeling' preset was all it took to transform this image. The preset bundle contains 20 presets: 10 color ones and 10 black & white ones.

One click on the 'Warm Fuzzy Feeling' preset was all it took to transform this image. The preset bundle contains 20 presets: 10 color ones and 10 black & white ones.

There's loads more than this top-ten, obviously and your top-ten may be different than mine. But a quick calculation taught me that this top-ten alone represents over a €500 value. And 330 of that €500 are extras, so that's not even counting the software. So the Creative Kit XXL might even tempt non-Mac users!

If you want to get the Creative Kit XXL, there's really only one downside: the deal is only valid through end of May 2016. So if you're thinking about it, don't think too long!

This is an overview of the all the extra goodies included in the Creative Kit XXL bundle, on top of the actual Macphun of the original Creative Kit, obviously.

This is an overview of the all the extra goodies included in the Creative Kit XXL bundle, on top of the actual Macphun of the original Creative Kit, obviously.

 

 

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.