When I shot film I was a traditionalist. Straight photography was something that I took pride in doing. My first business cards had my name and directly under my name, in big type, the name of my ‘studio’- Unretouched Photography. I stole the name from Edward Weston.
I was never into multiple exposures, heavy use of filters or plastic cameras. My goal was to get the sharpest and best exposed image that I could get and creativity be damned. As I got older I realized that this was a pretty limited (and limiting) way of working. Still, until I began using digital cameras and embracing imaging programs, it was what I had to work with and what I did.
When I began using Photoshop, Photoshop 3 as I recall, things began to loosen up for me. I saw things that could enhance an image or totally destroy it and sometimes it was one mouse click between those two points. It wasn’t at all unusual for me to work on an image for an hour and then discard everything that I had done.
Now my workflow is different. I shoot everything as a native, straight color file. I shoot raw and jpeg at the same time and work on the one that I need to use. Usually I’ll use the raw file. If you got all that information you might as well use it.
Then the fun starts. I use Lightroom most of the time. When I find an image that I like I go to the Develop module and adjust according to what I’m looking for. Keeping in mind that the monitor I’m working on may not be anywhere near what the monitor that the next person who sees the picture will be using. So, minor tweaks and I’m done. That would be Picture Number One.
But then what? Presets! I have a pile of presets. Let’s see what this picture would have looked like if I shot it on Kodachrome 64. I never shot much Kodachrome film so I’m not a fanboy of the film but here’s Picture Number Two.
That was okay but not what I was really looking for. So we get to Nik Silver EFX Pro. It works from Lightroom in this case though it will also work as a stand alone program. Open the file and start with the presets. This particular preset was called Wet Rocks. I don’t know why. The preset is then tweaked to make it reach the levels that I want and exported back into Lightroom where I’ll save it. Picture Number Three.