Lightroom can do black and white, and you could also use Photoshop, but I prefer to spend my time taking pictures and not fiddling around when there exists a great tool that makes life easier.  One of my favorite software packages for black and white development is by a company called Nik Software – Silver Efex Pro (Mac or Windows.). Why?  The results are incredible, and it’s easy to use as I’ll show you below.

I use the version that integrates as a plugin for Adobe Lightroom.  It makes it super easy to stay organized and keep things simple. Here is the simple three-pane interface. You can see the different styles listed in the column to the left. The preview is in the middle and the simple set of sliders to fine tune the results are on the right side. That’s it. It’s that simple.  The default selection is neutral style.

Here is one of my favorite styles called “Wet Rocks.” There are over 20 preset styles to choose from with over 30 additional preset styles. You can download all of them from Nik Software’s website.

One of the best features of Silver Efex Pro is Control Points. With Control Point you can selectively control Brightness, Contrast and Structure to a limited part of the picture and not just the entire image. These selections let me darken the sky to bring out more detail without darkening the entire image.

Final results by using Holga style and applying two local Control Points to the image.

This brief article is by no means an in-depth review of everything that Silver Efex Pro can do, but at the end of the day, it’s a slick way to add some dramatic black and white effects to your photography. So if you’re new to black and white, give it a shot.  The $150 price tag is well worth what it can do for your pictures. If you want to give it a whirl before dishing out the cash, however, they do have a 15 day trial you can download right now.   About the Author: Although the usual hangout for sharing his photography is, you will also find brickmonkey as an occasional groovyContributor here @ for photography tips and tricks. Comment