What Photo Plug-ins Do You Use?


I don’t use many plug-ins with my photo editing software, in fact, I only have two, NIK Color Efex and Topaz Adjust. I don’t always use them but sometimes I look at an image and think it could do with something more to finish it. Take the one below. It has balanced light throughout the whole image but I’d like to darken down the background area and lighten up the foreground just a little to give a bit more emphasis to that big rock.

I could play around with dodge and burn or maybe gradients but fortunately NIK Color Efex Pro has just the filter I need. It’s called Graduated Neutral Density and is one of a range of filters for colour correction, retouching and creative enhancements.

The effect of the filter is quite subtle as you can see above but you can be more creative should you wish with the possibility of using many of the stylistic options offered by the 55 filters (Pro version).

Topaz Adjust has been one of may favourite filters for a long time. I use it mainly for exposure and color balance but it can also be used for subtle photo pops, HDR effects, grungy styles and more. In the image below I have used Topaz Adjust to darken down the whole image.

That about wraps this one up but what about you. Do you have a favourite plug-in? Could you work with your photo’s without it? I know I don’t use my plug-ins all the time but I would be unhappy if I didn’t have them.

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10 thoughts on “What Photo Plug-ins Do You Use?

  1. Cheryl December 2, 2011 / 13:29

    Thank you for this tutorial, Mike, especially the graduated images showing the different impacts. Topaz Adjust is my favourite of the three. Beautiful image to begin with and you’ve made it spectacular two times over! You make it sound so easy. I find photo editing software intimidating (not so much freeware – Picasa and Picnik). Photoshop Elements has been on my PC virtually untouched for almost a year. What a coward 🙂

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    • Mike Hardisty December 3, 2011 / 00:27

      I find the best way to learn a new piece of software is just to play with it. Make a copy of the picture and experiment. that way you don’t lose the original. I can’t really comment about Elements as I’ve never used it

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  2. Connie T December 2, 2011 / 22:16

    I like the 2nd picture. I just got corel paintshow pro x4. It will take some learning on my part but it looks like it does a lot of neat stuff. I need to buy a book to read about it though.

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    • Mike Hardisty December 3, 2011 / 00:32

      I’ve just switched from Photoshop to PSP X4 and am still learning to use it. I have always used Photoshop but each year the price keeps going up and when I looked at it I realised I really wasn’t using all of the features. I saw the deal with PSP X4 and thought give it a go, it works differently to Photoshop in many ways but I’m finding that it does have quite an intuitive way of working with some great features. If you haven’t already done so take advantage of the user forums. There’s some great help on there….

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  3. Connie T December 2, 2011 / 22:17

    Oops, I should read for mistakes, I meant paintshop pro x4 by Corel.

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  4. Robert! December 3, 2011 / 23:18

    I use http://www.picnic.com a lot. Its not a filter ofcourse but its so freaking easy! And its enough for what i shoot because i don’t shoot in raw.

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    • Mike Hardisty December 6, 2011 / 21:20

      Each to their own Robert. I’ve never used Picnic but if you’re happy with it that’s great.

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  5. lifeofaphoenix December 4, 2011 / 04:17

    I love pictures of the water like this. Thanks for the photo tips!

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    • Mike Hardisty December 6, 2011 / 21:20

      I’m glad you like it…although I must say it was never really meant to be a tutorial.

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  6. Margie January 12, 2012 / 02:30

    I recently downloaded Wire Worm (http://vicanek.de/plugins/wireworm.htm) and am using it with Photoshop Elements 10. It works very well, though I expect there are any number of other plug ins for removing wires and other objects from images.

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