Self Portrait and Nik Analog Efex Pro First Impressions [Portrait]



Basic Portrait, no toning added.  Canon 5D Mark II, 85mm f/1.8 lens.  1/100th, f/4.0, ISO 100

I was going to take the night off last night, relax and play some video games.  In fact, I had a saved file in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess that I was spending some time on to chill out and unwind.  I absent-mindedly deleted it last night while not paying attention.  Well, time to go find something else to do.

I broke out my camera gear and started building a backdrop and light setup.  Had recently purchased a Savage Thunder Grey seamless background for doing portraits, and I haven't had much opportunity to work with it.  Initially, used a beauty dish and reflector to set up a basic clam shell configuration, which worked well but didn't exactly flatter me.  I just don't have the features that get the best out of that lighting setup.

I decided that a feathered lastolite ezybox softbox approach would work well. Additionally, I placed a small flash behind me to light up the background and provide a nice natural vignette.  I was pleased with the final result after about 10 minutes positioning my lighting and 20 minutes of finding the right pose.

Then the fun began.  I chose my image to work with (unprocessed shot at the top of the post) and cleaned up a little acne and stray hairs.  I noticed that Nik software had added Analog Efex Pro to my plug in collection, so I booted it up to see what it was about.

It's pretty damn cool.

Wet plate black and white toning.  Notice the out of focus areas on my shoulder where previously it was in focus.  This is what the "Bokeh" filter is capable of.  I will test this on some other photos.  

It's simple, familiar to anyone who uses Nik plug ins already and has some really great toning options.  You are able to emulate classic cameras (film emulation), toy cameras, wet plate and vintage.  You can take each of these as a starting point, as each one has a different collection of filters to apply.  

In the photo above, I used the Wet Plate Camera and fiddled with some of the settings to get the result you see.  In the wet plate camera, you get the basic adjustments, a really neat bokeh adjustment tool (more on this later), dirt and scratches, plate emulation, vignette and film type. 

If it sounds like a lot, don't worry, it's very straightforward to use and you can toggle the filters on and off if you're not enjoying the look they give you.  I wasn't digging the scratches and plate effects, so I turned them off.  

The following two photos were processed with the "Classic" camera preset, with some film toning added.  You can take the image to the extreme, but I'm actually quite impressed with the way that a subtle tone can be added. 

Very subtle film toning, not too much of a deviation from the original, but slightly desaturated and more detailed. I really like the warm skin tone in this result. 

This has a bit more cyan toning to it, as well as desaturation.  The film grain is more subtle, and the details aren't as enhanced. 
My first impression of Analog Efex Pro is very positive.  The software is very simple, fast loading and easy to use.  You can go from your starting image to something very useful in moments, and the results are professional and clean.

I personally don't care much for the "Toy Camera" or "Vintage Camera" settings, they just seemed a bit tacky/instagrammy.  They may suit a different image, and to each their own.  I was really impressed by the film toning and the Bokeh filter.  What I would really like to see from this software is a bit deeper control over the Black and White conversion, and the ability to use the Bokeh filter in the Classic Camera setting.

So, not a wasted night, even though I'm thoroughly miffed at myself for deleting the Zelda save file.  It's only a video game though, and it will be there tomorrow.