Crossing The Stream Part II

f/18, 240 sec, at 17mm, 100 ISO, on a Canon EOS 60D, Tamron 17-50mm f2.8

For the most part, the only visual difference between this image and the first Crossing The Stream is that this one is landscape where the first was vertical, but that is not the only difference. Today’s image was processed completely using onOne Software’s new Perfect B&W from their Perfect Photo Suite 7. Being heavy into the black and white images lately, I’ve started looking at software options for conversions. Yesterday’s trials included Topaz B&W Effects, NIK’s Silver Efex Pro 2 and the Perfect B&W. Here’s some thoughts on each.

I used to be a big fan of Topaz’s products, but since changing their interface and trying to offer more selective adjustments, which are a good thing, I’ve found it very difficult to get where I want to go with any of their products, with the only exception being DeNoise. Their selective adjustments seem clunky and hard to maneuver – I know some folks love them, and that’s great, but I found the Topaz B&W Effects to much of the same and had to give up on it.

The interface with NIK’s Silver Efex Pro was very much to my liking and the control point adjustments are quite good, but I found them to be very useful for making broad  adjustments, where a more selective, oddly shaped adjustment became a bit cumbersome when using a round control point. I’m sure with more trial and error this will become more adaptable to my workflow, but it did seem to produce a lot of repeat work in duplicating and applying the same control point along a long rectangular plain. Otherwise, I loved this product and will continue to play with it.

Of the three products sampled, Perfect B&W was the best. It allowed for much more localized control, as well as a plethora of global adjustments, and the perfect brush is really a game breaker. I do wish that masking was available for the global adjustments, but you can apply the most basic adjustments as a brush, you just can’t remove them as one.

Both Silver Efex and Perfect B&W worked seamlessly with Aperture, which is huge. The movement between Aperture and Topaz products is quite troublesome and I have to go through Photoshop Elements to make them work correctly.

Price points: Topaz B&W Effects $59.99, NIK Silver Efex Pro 2 $199.95, Perfect B&W $99.95 (Perfect Photo Suite 7 $299.95, but only $149.95 to upgrade from Suite 6). Based on what you get for the money, I’m still leaning towards the Perfect B&W, mainly because for another $50, because I own Suite 6, I get the entire Suite 7 along with the Perfect B&W.

I will keep playing with these products and may change my mind after doing so, but onOne is hard to beat right now. Do you have any conversion suggestions? Leave a comment below.

I’d also like to take a moment and wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving. I’m very thankful for your fellowship and interaction – it means a lot to me. I will be taking the rest of the week off to spend time with the family and hopefully get some shooting in. Until next week then…

12 Comments

  1. Chris Nitz November 21, 2012 at 12:34 PM #

    I’d just go with onOne. For the price, you get a hefty set of tools that you will benefit from far more than just b/w conversions.

    Hey, you have a happy Thanksgiving yourself and your family!

    • Jim November 21, 2012 at 2:17 PM #

      Agreed! Thanks for the Thanksgiving wishes my friend! Right back at ya!

  2. Len Saltiel November 21, 2012 at 12:40 PM #

    Another stellar shot Jim. Have a great Thanksgiving

    • Jim November 21, 2012 at 2:17 PM #

      Thanks Len – really appreciate it!

  3. Toad Hollow Photo November 21, 2012 at 5:08 PM #

    I just love this Jim! Dramatic and serene, at the same time. Those logs strewn about in the foreground in the river are fabulous additions to the composition, giving a bit of extra character to the scene!

    • Jim November 21, 2012 at 6:07 PM #

      Thanks Toad! Always appreciate your kind words and support!

  4. Chris Maskell November 22, 2012 at 3:07 AM #

    Great image Jim, works well in B&W and I love the low view point and long exposure.

    I’ve been playing with Perfect Suite 7 as well lately and although I’ve not tried everything it looks an accomplished bit of software.

    • Jim November 22, 2012 at 5:29 AM #

      Thanks Chris! I haven’t gotten to all of yet, either, but do agree with you!

  5. Chris Wray November 23, 2012 at 9:29 AM #

    I’m a big fan of NIK Silver Efex Pro. I love their easy to use interface and the results are stunning.

    You’ve achieved some beautiful tones in your stream photo. Love the long exposure. Hope you and your family had a great Thanksgiving.

    • Jim November 23, 2012 at 9:49 AM #

      Thanks for the input and kind wishes Chris! Hope you and yours did as well!

  6. Kevin La Rue November 27, 2012 at 12:24 PM #

    Hi Jim –

    It was great to see the comparison tests; definitely appreciate the feedback! A few notes/clarifications I wanted to make with regard to selective editing in Silver Efex Pro: (a) the Control Points actually do an intelligent selection based on a bunch of different factors, so the circle you see is really just a visual reference of the “area of influence.” (b) if you select the checkbox to the right of the Control Point in the list, you’ll show the mask that’s been created – note that the effect is irregular AND the intensity of the enhancement diminishes the further away you get from the actual point. (c) be sure to check out the selective color feature if you’re into that sort of thing. (d) if you’re running w/in Photoshop, you can also brush in the effect for additional selective control.

    Thanks for checking out the product! Kevin (from Nik)

    • Jim November 27, 2012 at 1:12 PM #

      Thanks for chiming in Kevin and I appreciate the details – I kind of figured that the control points worked differently than they appeared, but had not taken the time to find out. I would prefer to run the plug-in from Aperture rather than going into PSE to access it – I already do that for some things, few things, and it is not that convenient. Once again, thanks for commenting!

One Trackback

  1. [...] Crossing The Stream Part II – black-and-white photography has a great way of capturing the essence of a scene and conveying all the drama held within.  This beautiful landscape image from Jim Denham is a great example of that, taking us to a wonderful waterfall that Jim carefully composed with strewn logs, creating a piece that is as equally enthralling as it is mesmerizing. L1000667_v2 by Sigfrid Lundberg, on Flickr [...]

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