Loving Nik Software’s HDR Efex Pro

October 20th, 2010 by John Batdorff

Editors note:  Welcome John Batdorff to the blog!  John is an award winning landscape and travel photographer who splits his time between Chicago and Montana.  John loves the outdoors and traveling, and sharing his images with others. You can learn more about John at the end of this article.


HDR of Tree (Single Exposure)

I don’t shoot a lot of HDR but on occasion I like to mix things up and just have a little fun to get the creative juices flowing. I’ve always used Photomatix for all my HDR photography, but when I heard Nik Software was coming out with its own HDR plugin, I would be lying if I didn’t tell you I became a bit giddy. I’ve been in Montana this past week and much of the color has left my corner of the state, so I decide to have some fun with my filters, bracket a few shots, and give Nik’s new HDR program a little test drive.

I was amazed at how easy Nik’s HDR Efex Pro was to use. If you’re familiar with any of Nik’s software then you know they’re the masters of making the most daunting task manageable. Simply export a single image or bracketed images into HDR Efex Pro’s plugin and get ready to have some fun.

I’ll give you a quick rundown on today’s images:


HDR (Single Exposure) Imported into HDR Efex Pro

I took this image using a single exposure with a blue graduated filter for the sky and a yellow graduated filter for the grass. I simply exported the image out of Lightroom into HDR Efex, selected a preset that felt right, made a few global adjustments, and tweaked the image using its selective adjustments option. I had a fun HDR image in the matter of minutes.

HDR Dead Tree (Multiple Exposure)


HDR (Three Exposure -1,0,+1) Imported into HDR Efex Pro

This image was taken using the same blue/yellow graduated filter but this time I took three exposures, -1,0, 1, and I exported the images once again out of Lightroom into HDR Efex. The quality of the three exposures seemed slightly better (but barely noticeable) than the previous experiment I did with one exposure. I was really surprised at how little ghosting there was, especially since I didn’t use a tripod…;)  I manipulated the images using the same steps as mentioned above, and when I was finished I simply saved the image and imported it back into my Lightroom catalog. Keep in mind, this plugin works with Photoshop as well.

The bottom line is— whether you’re new to HDR or are a seasoned pro, this is a program you need to try. I truly think Nik Software hit another one straight out of the park…If you’re into HDR then HDR Efex Pro will do for you what Silver Efex Pro did for black and white photographers: take you to the next level.

Learn more about John, view his images and check out his blog here.



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