Friday, July 21, 2017

Dead But Still a Darling

Nik Software may be dead, but it's still such a joy to use, especially to someone like myself who did not toy with it until Google released it as freeware.

It's been a busy past month. With some foundation-building contracts dying in the business, I've found time to invest my energies in event organizing. And, without the relative, persistent burnout of constant photo work sapping my more experimental creative energies, I've found time to invest in attending conventions apt to bring along photogenic people, and the drive to exercise latent business-minded muscles in running photography "work" for a much more fun-loving clientele.

I bring up the Nik Collection on account of my current state of enthusiasm for use of the Color and Analog Efex packages, specifically, in editing some stragglers in a collection of photos from aforementioned conventions and the events I'm running. With some (actually, quite a lot of) help from friend and business partner Rob, I've been able to experiment heavily with reflectors and high speed sync flash (which has me yearning for a leaf shutter more and more every day). The look of the image files alone are incredible, a cry from my usual available light work. Tossing in color and light bleed through Nik's aging collection of algorithms, however, ads the extra spice I'm looking for every time.

Admittedly, I've always been a sucker for faux film looks, however resistant I am to the alluring pull of modern methods such as VSCO packs. I enjoy the added elements in subtle doses available through the Nik Collection, though. In particular, light bleed effects function well for augmenting extant bloom lighting, or at the very least throw in the character inherent in color bias in an interactive fashion. The same applies to vignetting, which doesn't simply darken areas, but reads some measure of luminance and saturation data and applies itself dynamically. How nobody else has incorporated such intelligent manipulation with otherwise basic features is beyond me - I'm absolutely addicted at this point.

I find myself going back and wanting to retouch photos of yesteryear, see what sort of character I may have envisioned in the images originally but was unable to produce. Paired with fondly revisiting Photoshop-based methods of skin softening, especially. Lightroom had me quite lazy for the longest time, but today I am driven to attentively massage files I'd otherwise slapped with a preset and called them "finished".

Most poignant is the photo below. A moody, scenic portrait of Kevin on a trip to Boston this past January. I was unable to come to a processing style that satisfied my vision of what the image should evoke tonally. Some time in the Nik Suite after initial Lightroom processing and I'm actually quite thrilled with the result.

I feel back in touch with my art. Not simply photography-as-art, but in general. I'm even drawing again, vectoring sketches into quality pieces. It's a great feeling. And for a change, I'm not afraid of it leaving this time.