Hey Everyone! Hope everyone is doing fantastic today. This week I want to talk about plug-in's and what I use with Lightroom Classic and Photoshop. First of all, what are plug-ins? For our purposes, a plug-in is a separate program that works in conjunction with Lightroom or Photoshop. Usually they do a specific job, like color enhancement. There have been many plug-ins in the past that, as Photoshop and Lightroom have gotten better, make the plug-in obsolete. For example, HDR. I used to have a couple of HDR plug-ins before Lightroom could do an HDR, and now that Lightroom has that capability, the plug-in is no longer needed. So I use plug-ins for things that Lightroom Classic doesn't do very well.
Working with plug-ins from Lightroom Classic is very easy. You right-click and go to "Edit In" and then go to the plug-in that you want to use. You can also go to Photoshop from here also. When you finish your edits in whatever plug-in you are using, when you save the photo or a copy of the photo, it comes up in Lightroom. This is called Round Tripping. It's very easy to do, and this is how I access my plug-ins.
ON1 No Noise AI. ON1 No Noise AI intelligently removes all the image noise while intelligently recovering and enhancing the details. Even though we have great cameras now with low-light capabilities and being able to shoot at high ISOs, noise can still creep in, especially if you're using a higher megapixel camera and really crop in. You're going to get noise. Now Lightroom Classic does have a noise reduction feature in it, and I haven't really had much luck with it. A couple of weeks ago a member of my camera club told me about this plug-in and how it was rated #1 of all the noise reduction plug-ins, and it was on sale! So I went ahead and bought it on the spot. I haven't used it much on newer photos, but I have played with it in older photos that I had a lot of noise in, and it worked really good. I think the regular price is around $70 and well worth it if it can make my shots look better.
Topaz Sharpen AI. This is another new plug-in for me, and I caught it on sale also. It also runs about $70. I have lots of photos that need this, especially ones that were shot with cheaper lenses that weren't as sharp as I would like them to be. There are all kinds of adjustments you can make with this plug-in, and it also has a masking feature that lets you mask the main subject. That way your whole photo doesn't get sharp, just your main subject. Nailing focus on moving subjects or in low light is sometimes hard to do even with modern cameras. Its nice to know that I can go in and fix the focus with this plug-in.
Other plug-in's I have used that I really liked were Silver Effects Pro. This is a black-and-white program that really gives pop to your monochrome photos. This company has changed hands a couple of times, but it is a fantastic plug-in if you can get your hands on it. I did use Luminar 4 at the time, mainly for sky replacements. But now there is a sky replacement feature in Photoshop that I like, so I don't use Luminar anymore. It has been updated a few time since I've used it, so it's probably a pretty good one to try. Nik Tools has an array of plug-ins that have been great in the past. They are a whole suite of tools from the Silver Effects Pro to all kinds of tools. They have been bought and sold a couple of times and are owned by DXO, I believe, now.
Plug-ins are a special way to put your touch on a photograph that maybe someone that is not using them can't. They are a great way to improve your art and keep your creativity going. So until next time, be creative and get out and shoot!