Reconnecting People

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Occasional fits of obsessive analysis, bits of what I'm learning along the way, with a dash of self-promotion.

Color Grading Tools for Lightroom

 

Note (February 2, 2015): It's almost laughable that my post ignores the amazing Lightroom products by the Visual Supply Company (VSCO). They aren't cheap, but they're well worth looking into.

Summary

  • When Lightroom is your starting point for editing photos, you have two options: edit in LR or edit in another app. Nik, like Photoshop, is another app. The others are plugins that run inside LR (a single application workflow). Nik and Photoshop both integrate with LR, so you can launch them from within LR and once you're done editing, your photo gets saved back to LR (a round trip workflow). Round trip workflows create extra TIFF files, because Nik and Photoshop can't work with RAW camera originals.
  • The weakness of Nik is editing lots of images. It's slower than LR plugins and there's no batch feature. But it would be a great tool for you when you're creating distinct looks using single images for ads, posters, social media, etc. You would just need to correct a photo's exposure before opening it in Nik.
  • The weakness of Lightroom plugins like the one by Fstoppers is that they're a bit hacky. But it is the most mature Lightroom photo-retouching plugin I've seen, and it harnesses the power of RAW camera originals.
  • See the Fstoppers's video to get an impression of whether their workflow works for you.
  • Download Google Nik and try out Color Efex Pro. Of the 6 Nik tools, it's the killer app.

1. Trey's Lightroom Presets

Impressions

  • Over the top
  • A variety of looks and color combinations

2. Lightroom Presets v5.1

Impressions

  • Clear 4-step workflow
  • Stays in Lightroom
  • Doesn't generate TIFFs
  • Includes Brush presets
  • Workflow is similar to http://www.lightroompresets.com/collections/lightroom-4-5-presets/products/clean-and-creative-advanced-workflow ($39)

3. Google Nik

Nik overall

Impressions

  • Smart tools, especially the 3 color-grading tools: Color Efex Pro 4, Analog Efex Pro 2, Silver Efex Pro 2
  • The most useful tool to us would be Color Efex Pro 4

Advantages

  • More tools in our editing toolbox
  • Beautiful, tasteful looks
  • Great preview feature shows several possibilities side by side

Disadvantages

  • Not editing RAW
  • 2 apps instead of 1
  • Creating large TIFFs
  • No batch editing option
  • Editing requires saving a TIFF and opening a new program
  • Doesn't integrate with Lightroom

Viveza

Impression

  • Viveza provides control points (feathered masks for editing) for detail work
  • Not useful to us

Advantage

  • Linking multiple points together (so their adjustments are synced)

Disadvantage

  • Fewer functions than LR's native control points

Dfine

Impressions

  • Noise reduction tool equivalent to what we can do natively in LR
  • Not useful to us

Analog Efex Pro

Impression

  • Instagram meets Photoshop
  • Useful to us

Advantage

  • Really good Instagram with huge variety of incredible looks that are convincingly film-y
  • 1-click wonders
  • Fine-grained editing tools for detail creations

Disadvantage

  • None

Color Efex Pro

Impression

  • Amazing tool for applying unique looks to single photos
  • Very useful to us

Advantage

  • Color Efex Pro is truly special and ingenious. It sports loads of looks and tools.
  • 1-click wonders
  • Fine-grained editing tools for detail creations

Disadvantage

  • None

Silver Efex

Impression

  • Solid black and white editor
  • Rarely useful to us

Advantage

  • The many shades of black and white

Disadvantage

  • None

Sharpener Pro 3

Impression

  • Powerful version of LR's native sharpening tool
  • Not much of a use case for this tool
  • Not useful to us

Advantage

  • A little bit more precision that LR
  • Create slightly more dynamic looks

Disadvantage

  • None
 
Nathan LucyLightroom