Google Makes Nik a Free Download (…for those who don’t know the original Nik plugins were the “cat’s meow”)

B&W conversion using Silver Efex Pro 2

B&W conversion using Silver Efex Pro 2

Final edit includes adjustments performed using Color Efex Pro 4, Tonal Contrast, Pro Contrast and more.

Final edit includes adjustments performed using Color Efex Pro 4, Tonal Contrast, Pro Contrast and more.

As many photographers may have heard Google has just made the Nik Collection a “free” download. Many photographers already know about the Nik plugins, however I personally have met many photographers who never heard of Nik plugins, even after Google acquired the Nik collection from Nik. I guess I was naïve to have thought everybody knew what they were. I have been using Nik for many years now. I had purchased Color Efex Pro 3 and Silver Efex Pro 2 from Nik and then after Google acquired them one day out of the clear blue I received an email from Google giving me a link to download the whole collection and this in turn moved me up to Color Efex Pro 4. Google stated because I was a current Nik Customer they were dishing out the love and it really was a beautiful day for sure.

Now real quick for those who don’t know the original Nik plugins were the “cat’s meow” especially Color Efex Pro and Silver Efex Pro.

I fell in love with Silver Efex Pro 2 (SEP2) for making black & white conversions. Although I have several methods for making B&W images SEP2 is by far the best and most creative. I love my color images, but at the same time I can get lost in playing with SEP2. Most important to me when working with images that have a face, is being able to see the zone mapping so I can apply my personal recipe for zone mapping human skin. I’m not going to go into all the details about the zone system, but for those who know about Ansel Adam’s zone system… well you know what I’m talking about.

Most important (in my opinion) is that if you want to create amazing black & whites you need to first create a great color image and then move into SEP2. So for those of you who have Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom, you need to get these plugins and get started learning how to use them. For me… if you asked me to choose one tool or plugin for Photoshop and nothing else. Hands down the Nik collection would be my choice, mainly Color Efex Pro.

Another source that increased my wanting for using SEP2 was famed photographer Vincent Versace’s book “From Oz to Kansas” but you must first read “Welcome to Oz” because it is all about making cinematic edits that can stop at being beautiful color images or… move to the next book “From Oz to Kansas” and that is taking those awesome color edits and moving to black& white. The books truly are worth reading, however so many people I meet who want to call themselves a “photographer” want instant gratification and reading a book is just too much trouble, or so it seems. Sometimes I will mention that I learned “this or that” technique from a book I read and I get looked at like I have two heads.  I want to be the best photographer I can be and when I look at anybody who has ever succeeded at anything I many times see people who know their craft inside and out and many will tell you that part of knowing your craft is studying the people who have traveled the road before you. When you think about it it’s a “no brainer,” but seems many have no brains. Every photographer out there in this big ole world wants better images and the Nik collection will get you closer to that holy grail, but do yourself a favor and read a book or take a class that is written or taught by a true master of the trade/art. Fuck those stupid Facebook advertisements and find somebody who is a master. I live in NYC/Philly area and when I know Joe McNally or Cliff Mautner or Lindsay Adler are in town speaking or teaching… well you bet your last dollar I’m gonna be there. And those are just a few of the masters photography has to offer.

So down load the Nik collection from Google and let your creativity move of to the next level. I did!

Are You Google Smart? (“yep I can remove that brain tumor thingy you have… looked it up on Google and a… looks pretty easy.”

A very quite special place I visit. No phones, no internet... just pure nature. 1/100 sec at f/3.5 ISO 233 Canon A640

A very quite special place I visit. No phones, no internet… just pure nature.
1/100 sec at f/3.5 ISO 233 Canon A640


Are you Google smart? Or do you really know what you are talking about. I am 49 years old, so I have lived life without internet, mobile phones and even lived without a remote control oscillating fan. (can you believe that, no remote for the fan) But this “Google Smart” as I call it is so perplexing to me. Now if you are a younger person and grew up with the internet and does not know that there was a time when window fans did not come with a remote control, yes there was life without the internet and there were no search engines. Now before you think I am some old guy bitching about change, I have to say “I think Google, Bing and the like are amazing tools that make life a little more easier.” I like anybody will look at traffic on my phone and take a different route. Why not? So what is Google Smart? Google smart are these pathetic people both young and old that use Google and or any search engine as a way to find information and take that found information as “real” information 100% of the time. These for lack of a better word f##ktards are (in my life) the most annoying people to be around. Yes there is an infinite amount of information on the so called “information highway” but it is not all real or correct. Now I know you’re thinking of the last time you went to Youtube to find a video to fix or make something and seen a 14 year old kid showing you how to do it and your end result was, he was pranking you the whole time. In the end you ended up breaking or ruining what it was you were trying to fix. That is what the video was there for… to prank you, same as lighting a bag of dog crap on fire, ringing the door bell and running away.

Even worse is the medical information that people gather from the internet. A long time ago I had a very long conversation with my family doctor, who was also a friend of mine. He left family practice to pursue a career as a Lyme disease specialist and just study that one thing. He had told me he published a paper that was being printed in a medical journal and had been named by the governor of New Jersey to head up and oversee Lyme research. He gave me a link to read the paper he had published and I asked him (jokingly) is this “real” information. That is when the conversation started. I was really just joking, but Doc was serious, sat me down at his computer and started going through web page after page of horribly wrong or misleading medical info. Being naïve at the time, I asked why would someone do this or who would do this. Doc says “hey… it’s the internet anybody can post anything.”

So now cut to almost 15 years later it is still the same, if not worse. The internet revolutionized the world in the way connect with each other as well as the way we find information. So let’s get back to these Google smart idiots. These morons can tell you how to do just about anything, but can “they” actually do it, or have they actually done it, or they just like talking about it to make you think they are so dam smart. Even more annoying is that when you tell them something they have to verify it with Google before they’ll even consider it as real information. In the end there is real life information, living, learning and most of all experiencing life and not just looking something up on Google, reading about it and telling yourself “yep I can remove that brain tumor thingy you have… looked it up on Google and a… looks pretty easy.” “Oh yeah I can fix your car, I’ll just go to Youtube… how hard can that be?”

I have to admit finding info on the net is so much easier than going to a library. But at the same time it was a whole lot harder for someone to put “bad information in the library.” While yes it could be done it was very rare. So as good as the internet is, we suffer the collateral damage of the poor Google Smart souls, just another facet of the Zombie Apocalypse.