Today, Nikon officially released the full version of Nikon Capture NX-D 1.0.0. This release marks the end of support for Nikon Capture NX 2 and ushers in a new chapter for Nikon software. As I mentioned in previous posts and video blogs, the new NX-D software is a far cry from the previous Capture NX 2 software since Nikon chose not to include many of the higher-end editing tools. It is unfortunate that tools like color control points, HSL adjustments, and selection brushes won’t be included in NX-D.
NX-D is a basic RAW converter and I have loaded the program on my computer. At this point, my main use for NX-D will be processing image files from brand new Nikon cameras before other software packages (i.e. Lightroom) have the capability. There’s almost always a month or two delay from when a camera is released until 3rd party software companies are able to process the camera’s RAW files, so NX-D will fill that time gap. I don’t see using NX-D for any significant image processing in my overall workflow.
Download Full Version of Capture NX-D here: Nikon Capture NX-D
I’m always looking for interesting shapes and textures when I travel because they keep my mind engaged in the photographic process. Sometimes I succeed in creating a compelling photograph. Sometimes I completely fail. The point is that I’m always trying. Always pushing. Always attempting something new.
Over this last weekend, I was walking some of our local beaches and found a few pieces of driftwood to photograph with my Nikon D7000. All three photos were processed in Capture NX2 using Nik Color Efex Pro 3. I used Pro Contrast and Black and White conversion.
Creating a compelling photo with every-day subjects can be extremely difficult. Take for example, the venerable tulip. It has been photographed in every conceivable way you can imagine. I’ve seen photos of tulips splashing in water, upside down, against black backgrounds, against the blue sky, and repeating in patterns of giant fields as far as the eye can see. How do you create something visually compelling that has been photographed literally millions of times? The answer isn’t always in taking the photo, but rather in what you do after you take the photo.
I took these two images (above and below) yesterday while practicing my “Program Mode” photography from May’s GOAL Assignment. I knew that the images weren’t going to be anything special in the camera, but I had an idea about making the flowers appear metallic. Perhaps with just the right amount of post-processing I could create something fascinating.
Capturing the Image
As you know, the great end result always depends on a great initial photo. Therefore, make sure that your photo is well exposed and in sharp focus. In this case, I used a Nikon D7000 and an ISO of 400. Since I’m spending this month shooting in Program Mode, I set my camera to “P” and began different compositions. As I took the shots, I verified that my shutter speed was high enough so I wouldn’t get any blurriness from camera shake. Oh, I also turned on Vibration Reduction just to make sure my images were sharp.
Here are the two original images as captured in the camera.
Turning Tulips to Metal
The next step was to bring the photos into post processing software. I regularly use Lightroom, Photoshop and Nikon Capture NX2 about equally in my workflow and they all do a great job. I knew that I wanted to use the solarization filter in Nik Color Efex Pro 3.0 to create the metallic effect. I also knew that I wanted to darken down the green leaves in the background. For me, the fastest and easiest way to perform these two actions was in Nikon Capture NX2 since it works with Nik’s Color Efex Pro 3.0 plug-in and it has the amazing Color Control Point technology.
Here’s my step-by-step process in Capture NX2:
1. Choose multiple Color Control Points and place them on the green leaves and background (shown below). Reduce the brightness, or”B,” slider which changes the brightness of the selected areas.
2. Click the New Step button to add a new Adjustment Step. From the pull-down menu, choose Color Efex Pro 3.0: Stylizing –> Solarization. See example below.
3. Now, you’ll need to adjust both the Saturation slider and the Elapsed Time slider (below) until you’re happy with the result. There isn’t a magic formula here so keep playing until you like what you see.
4. Done! That’s it. Now, save the photo or print it out and you have your metallic tulips! If you don’t have Nikon Capture NX2, that’s ok. You can do these exact same things in Photoshop, Lightroom or Aperture. In fact, Nik Color Efex Pro 3.0 is a plug-in that works in all four of these host programs.
Never forget that the process you apply after you take the photo is just as important as the process of taking the photo. I think it is important for us to “see with post processing eyes” so we can always be thinking about where to take our images and how to create something new.
This summer, my hometown of Gig Harbor commissioned some very talented street artists to create sidewalk chalk drawings along our main walkways. The art was all very well done and it was a colorful event. I had fun taking images of the art.
Today, I took a few of those images and worked on them in Nikon Capture NX 2 using the Nik Color Efex Pro 3.0 Plug In. I used the Film Effects plug in and chose the Agfa Optima 400 film type. I like the saturated and gritty look of the film and think that it improves the overall look of the images.
I’m out doing some work today for a new book project with Rocky Nook. I took this image of the New Oregon fishing boat by hoisting my Nikon D90 digital camera into the air with a home-made DIY aerial photography monopod. I made the monopod out of a paint roller extension handle from the Home Depot which allows me to raise the camera about 20′ into the air. To get the shot, I put the Nikon D90 on self timer with a five second delay.
I converted the image to Black and White in Nikon Capture NX 2 and added some extra contrast to the sky using the Selection Brush tool.
Here are a couple of other versions of the same file. The first is with a bit of a softening filter. The second is a color image.
A reader of the Nikon Capture NX 2 book just sent me a question over email:
Mike – just finished your book After the Shoot. I found it the best explanation to date of the functions and use of NX 2.
You mention that you crop at the end of you workflow. However, if you add control points prior to cropping, the location of the control points will be in the wrong place after the crop. Therefore the cropping needs to be done at the beginning of the workflow for control points to be used correctly. Is this correct from your experience?
Here was my answer:
Robert – You can crop at the beginning or the end and still have the color control points be in the correct position. If you crop at the end, the effect of the control point doesn’t change, but its virtual position changes. For example, if you put the control point on the sky and change the saturation, then the sky will still be saturated. However, it will appear that the control point’s physical location has changed. Rest assured however, that the same pixels are still being affected just as they were before the crop.