Google offers Nik Collection of photo editing tools for free

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Staying true to its mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful, Google recently made its Nik Collection photo editing software free of charge.

Google acquired Nik Software, the company behind Snapseed, the popular Instagram-like photo editing app, back in 2012. Originally, Nik offered six desktop plug-ins as a bundle for $500, and then Google dropped the price to $149 roughly six months after the acquisition.

The free package contains the following photo editing plug-ins for Photoshop, Lightroom and Aperture.

1. Analog Efex Pro: Explore the look and feel of classic cameras, films, and lenses.

2. Color Efex Pro: A comprehensive set of filters for color correction, retouching, and creative effects.

3. Silver Efex Pro: Master the art of black-and-white photography with darkroom-inspired controls.

4. Viveza: Selectively adjust the color and tonality of your images without complicated masks or selections.

5. HDR Efex Pro: From natural to artistic, explore the full potential of HDR photography.

6. Sharpener Pro: Bring out hidden details consistently with the professional’s choice for image sharpening.

7. Dfine: Improve your images with noise reduction tailored to your camera.

While some Nik fans are concerned that these tools may by discontinued, Google said in a statement on their Nik Collection Google+ page that they are continuing to focus on long-term investments in building incredible photo editing tools.

Now that the collection is free, here’s a great tutorial to walk you through all of the new tools.

Personally, I was most excited to give the HDR Efex Pro tool a try. HDR stands for high-dynamic-range. For those unfamiliar with HDR photos, here’s how Digital Trends explains them:

At the most basic level, an HDR photo is really just two (or three, or nine) photos taken at different exposure levels and then mashed together with software to create a better picture. It’s a bit more complicated than that, but not much more – that’s basically the gist of it. Ideally, the photographer takes a range of bracketed photos – that is, photos of the same subject taken with varying shutter speed/aperture combinations in order to produce a set of images with varying luminosity and depth of field. Then, with the help of advanced post-processing software, the photographer is able to blend the photos together and create a single image comprised of the most focused, well-lit, and colorful parts of the scene.

Digital Trends

Over the last few months, I’ve shot multiple scenes at different exposure levels with the hopes of one day taking the time to merge the collections photos into single images. While there are many HDR programs on the market, HDR Efex Pro’s free download motivated me to finally give HDR processing a try.

The following images were shot in Mexico on a sunny day. The weather was great for sun tanning, but the bright sky washed out a lot of the detail in the sky, the ocean and on the rocks.

HDR, Nik Collection, Google, Mexico Beach

Using the HDR Efex Pro tool, I merged three photos with different exposure levels into a single image. While I still need to spend time mastering the new tools, I was able to create this image in less than five minutes.

HDR, Mexico, Beach, Google, Nik Collection

By merging the photos, we can now see greater definition in the clouds, the range of colours in the water and the texture of the rocks.

To explore more examples of HDR photos, visit Digital Camera World.

4 Comments
  • Mario Aquilina April 11, 2016, 8:45 am Reply

    Jon, very interesting information and thanks for the tips! I have not used any photo editing software other than what’s available through iPhoto on my MAC laptop. Personally, I’ve always tried achieving great photos by simply adjusting the camera settings to get the image that I’m looking for. Lately though I’ve been using the cropping, sharpness and saturation tools on the iPhoto software and in certain situations it certainly enhances the quality of the picture. I find the cropping tool most useful but the saturation control is also very nice when trying to illustrate the more true to life colour of the birds that frequent our bird feeders. I will have to experiment with Googles Nik Collection! Thanks Jon!

  • watercolourarchive April 10, 2016, 6:07 pm Reply

    This post was made for me! I was about to load a bunch of photos I am editing for a friend’s bridal shower to my phone just so I could use the filters on instagram to edit them but now I can use this program. Thanks for doing this write up Jon : )

    • Jon April 10, 2016, 7:07 pm

      That’s great! Yes – edit them on your computer! Loading them on to your phone is way too much work!

  • Sarah MacIndoe April 10, 2016, 4:18 pm Reply

    I look forward to seeing some of these edited photos printed on our wall!!!

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