The Nik Collection suite of software, which has been owned by Google since 2012, was downloaded to Encounter Studio this afternoon. I know very little about the different software products in the collection----Color Efex Pro 4, Nik Sharpener Pro, Viveza 2, Dfine 2, HDR Efex Pro 2 and Analog Efex Pro 2 apart from Silver Efex Pro--and I'm not interested in some of them--eg., HDR Efex Pro or Nik Sharpener Pro as I detest that digital aesthetic. Nor do I know if they add much to what you can do using Adobe's Lightroom or Photoshop.
The reason for downloading the collection is Silver Efex Pro 2. I find that Lightroom is not that good for post-processing my scanned black and white files --- they come out a bit flat and they lack a rich tonality. I've been without Silver Efex Pro 2 since I upgraded the Mac's operating system to Yosemite, and I've missed using it for post-processing my black and white medium format negatives. Silver Efex Pro works well, but it is now part of a package, rather than a standalone software. Hence the download.
I have started exploring Analog Efex Pro---a film emulation program---to see what it offers. When people nowadays think of the film look, and when they go ga-ga over the film look, they aren't really going ga-ga over the look of film. They're fetishising a simulation of an idea. An implanted memory of something that didn't really exist. That's Analog Efex Pro.
I'm not interested in its gimmicks (eg., adding dirt and scratches to the image), but I am willing to explore how the various types of retro or aged looks would work with black and white medium format. Will the software add anything? Or should I just stick to using Silver Efex Pro?
More specifically, I wanted to see if the software could help me to overcome the over-contrasty back and white scans of rocks at Venus Bay that have been sitting on the computer's hard drive for 18 months or more. The scanned files were too contrasty and over-sharpened from the scan and the highlights are blown out. My scanning is a weak area in my work process., given that one of the reasons black and white film has such a distinct look is because it has an enormous amount of highlight dynamic range – the rolloff to overexposure is gradual.
So what could Analog Ex Pro do? Could it help me to avoid having to re-scan the negatives?
Unfortunately no. It basically refers back to the classical, vintage, and alternative processing techniques that photographers used so many years ago.
The medium format b+w negatives need rescanning since the highlights have no information in them. The contrast needs to be reduced. So its re-scanning using the knowledge that I gained from a scanning tutorial at Photonet Gallery in Fairfield, Melbourne. The key advice was to keep the scanning simple and avoid sharpening. I'll re-scan the negatives so they are flat.