Silver Halide (Prints) Using Analog Efex Pro, part 1

Black and White photography is very successful in the industry, but it is much more complex than you imagine. In this article, we’ll learn how to create the perfect silver halide print that you’d proud to hang on your wall. As the go-to pluging for making black and white images Silver Efex Pro isn’t the only option. Indeed, we’ll explore Analog Efex Pro and highlight some of its unique features. 

This topic was also covered in a recent webinar, which has been embedded here.

Understanding Silver Halide

The use of silver in making photos and prints is as old as photography itself. At a very basic level, both the photographic negative and the print are made through a photochemical process involving the conversion of chemicals to silver. As photography evolved, the use of silver in prints became less necessary. But even to this day, you can have a photo print made using the silver halide process. Unlike a modern inkjet or laser printer, a silver halide print still involves the darkroom and chemicals — even if you’re printing from a digital photo!

When making black and white images for print, especially for silver halide prints, it’s important to understand where your silver will show up the most. Essentially it shows up in the grey tones; white is simply white, and black will be extremely rich and deep. Technically the darker the tones, the more silver there is. But there arrives a point where too much silver becomes less silver-looking, if that makes sense. 

Preparing a Photoshop File for Analog Efex Pro

Start with a Smart Object when you use Photoshop for Nik Collection. Applying a Nik filter to a Smart Object makes the filter a Smart Filter. This means you can go back and edit it at any time. I find this flexibility extremely important for my workflow. 

If you’ve opened a RAW file in Adobe Camera Raw, then once you’re finished tweaking it, hold down the Shift key and the Open Image button becomes Open Object. 

If you’re not starting with a RAW file, you can still convert any layer to a Smart Object by right-clicking on it and choosing Convert to Smart Object. 

As far as adjusting exposure on your image to ensure it’s optimized for B&W conversion, as with any image you’re planning to filter, the most important thing to do is ensure that you aren’t clipping your shadows or highlights. I recommend adjusting for as neutral an image as possible, focusing on the regions you know you’ll want to highlight. For example, if your photo has lots of shadow detail, make sure that it’s all visible in the image you send to the filter.

Consider lifting the shadows a bit in Camera RAW to ensure that you can see everything you want. You can always make it darker in the filter, but if you send a photo with minimal detail to Analog Efex Pro, you’ll have a harder time recovering it. Finally, pay close attention to your histogram. You want to be sure you’re not clipping any shadows or highlights. Watch the edges of the histogram and enable the clipping indicators so you know exactly what you’re getting. 

Create a Clean B&W Preset

Analog Efex Pro has

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