Control Points – The Secret Weapon
I’m a new user of Nik Software products, so I’m not going to jump in at the deep end and dazzle you right off with all the amazing things that you can do with the filters and features. Instead, I’d like to share my experiences with you on the ways I have found to work with the different products and a few essential tips as I find them.
Attend the webinars
One of the things about Nik Software that sets it apart from other software providers is that they appear to be education led. Through the excellent webinars and articles available through this website, you can find out a lot about the products before you even buy them.
The first thing I did after installing the Complete Collection was to sign up for a bunch of these webinars. It was easy to do and the appointments went straight into my Outlook calendar. These helped me a lot. They weren’t sales pitches at all, but were led by very knowledgeable instructors who took time to answer many of the attendees’ questions.
Start global with your edits
There’s obviously been a lot of work put into these tools and the workflow involved with using them. Right off the bat I found myself thinking, “Is that all there is to it?” when, at the click of a mouse I removed noise from my image or added a great filter in Color Efex Pro 4, Silver Efex Pro 2, or HDR Efex Pro 2. The products are designed with a global to detail approach to the workflow. You can choose an overall style from any of the provided presets, make changes to it across your whole image, and then drill down to tweak changes to particular parts of the image. I’m finding the time it takes me to edit images has been cut drastically.
Control Points – the secret weapon
Control Points are an amazingly powerful way to make selections in your image. Not only are these Control Points far easier to use than making a selection in Photoshop, they are easy to use when making the selection. The sliders on a Control Point are different depending on the tool you are using, but are used to adjust image settings within the Control Point’s circle of influence.
If parts of the image change that you don’t want changed, just make the Control Point smaller by moving the top slider, or add another Control Point into the image where you want to preserve the settings. All the Control Points communicate with each other to affect the resulting selection.
I found this a little confusing at first, until I was told about a little check box to the right of the Control Point in the Control Point List:
Activate the check box and your image will show the parts of the image that are being affected by the Control Point selection. Anything shown in white is being fully affected, anything in gray is partially affected and anything in black is not affected.
With the selection mask turned on, I notice that the dials on the car dashboard are being somewhat affected by the Control Point. I therefore added another Control Point in the dials and adjusted the size until it was covering both dials.
The check box on the left side of the Control Point list turns the Control Points on and off. With both turned on, but only the mask for Control Point 1 activated, I now see that Control Point 1 is no longer affecting the dials, as shown below.
This method of selection has made my workflow much faster and has even allowed me to do post-processing that I would not have attempted when using Lightroom and Photoshop alone.