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How do plug-ins actually work?

LidiLidi Member
edited March 2012 in general photography
Hi Neil

You sometimes mention using plug-ins for editing your photographs - please help me understand - where do I download them to, and how do I access them when I've opened a photograph in Photoshop (CS3)? IOW how do I get a plug-in to help me in the editing process?

Many thanks


  • TrevTrev Moderator

    Plug-ins are individual programs created by different software company which can either work as 'stand-alone' [meaning you don't need to have other software] but generally are installed and they 'plug into' photoshop and are accessed through the Filter menu in photoshop.

    They cost money and there are endless software companies out there creating these plug-ins.

    A couple of the most popular plug-ins is Nik Software [various programs there] and Imagenomics Portraiture program for skin smoothing.

    You pay, download, install and during installation it will ask where to go, merely choose the PS version you want. Make sure when purchasing that you select the Windows Photoshop version, there are versions for Mac and also can be installed into Lightroom as some of the Nik ones will be able to do anyway.

    Here is a link to some sites, you need to check each different program, see if it's something you would be interested in. There are usually trial installations anyway so you can try for usually a month or so many times you open it before you need to purchase or uninstall it.

    Nik software: http://www.niksoftware.com.au/nik/index.php?q=software

    Imagenomics Portraiture: http://www.imagenomic.com/pt.aspx

    OnOne Software: http://www.ononesoftware.com/products/phototools/

    I think that's enough for starters for you.

  • Tanks a million, Trev, for your excellent reply - I appreciate it tremendously!
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited March 2012
    You are welcome, and I forgot to point out that some, like Nik Software, have little window palettes that come up so it's a simple click with the mouse to access the specific one you want, also you can have presets [called Recipes] you create yourself to immediately apply a specific end result, which you can still adjust if you want, but some I have, like putting a quick border on an image, can be done in less than 5 seconds.

    eg: for putting a black border around a 10x8 print I have a Recipe 10x8 Black Border, I click that and even before it's fully opened, I immediately click the 'Enter' key and as soon as the program opens and renders it immediately closes and applies my black border layer. Depending on how complex my recipe may be it can take literally less then 2 seconds and maybe up to 5 tops to apply.

    Here is image of my Nik Plug-in Palette showing some presets I created for Nik Efex Pro 4 but you also see I have Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 [for Black and Whites] and Nik Viveza, and Nik HDR Efex Pro [High Dynamic Range which I purchased all as a bundle, cheaper, but never use HDR].


    The best part also is you can 'stack' these effects in Nik's Color Efex Pro 4 during choosing so when you apply it comes out in 1 single layer on top of your original file instead of having to do each individually. eg you may wish to apply a Tonal Contrast, then you can add a Darken-Lighten Center [like vignette], then add some warmth all at the same time by selecting 'Add Preset' then you adjust to taste on that particular preset.

    My personal recommendations would be Nik: Color Efex Pro 4; Viveza; Silver Efex Pro 2 and on that site you can see lots of tutorials and what they do.

    Videos: http://www.niksoftware.com.au/nik/index.php?q=node/20

    With the OnOne Software: PhotoTools 2.6 and only if you do super enlargements they have a fantastic program called Perfect Resize 7 which can upsize your image hugely without detrimental changes to image sharpness or pixelisation.

    If doing a lot of portraits then Imagenomics Portraiture is fantastic. Not only for smoothing, but also to add/remove warmth/tint in the skin itself leaving the rest of the image alone.

    All of these have a learning curve and if you are new to Photoshop I most certainly would invest in time to learn as much about it first, after all you just don't jump into an F1 with a learner's permit and expect to win a Grand Prix. :)

  • Depending on what you are trying to do with your photo, you might think about the use of Photoshop actions. You can create your own or use and/or modify those that meet your purpose. A quick search will provide sites with many free downloadable actions. Some mimic commercial plugins to varying degrees. Here is just one you check out. Hope it helps.
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