Today I’m going to help you make your drone images pop, by introducing you to my favourite plug-in of all time, Pro Contrast from Nik collection. You first need to download Nik Collection, a free series plugin here:
It used to be pretty expensive! Thanks to Google, it is now free, so enjoy it, I use it ALL the time.
If you use it for the first time, the entire collection can be a bit daunting, that’s why we are only going to focus on one plug-in within the collection, Color Efex Pro 4, and within this, Pro Contrast.
Pro contrast is the most badass plugin ever. You can make a massive improvement to any picture in a minute. It’s always the first start of my editing process and I’m sure it will become yours too after watching this video.
First, to open it, once Nik Collection is installed, click on filters, Nik Collection and Color Efex pro 4.
Then find Pro contrast in the list of folder. You could also add it as a favourite by clicking on the little star icon, we are going to use this a lot!
And this is your new interface. Pro Contrast is really easy to play with, with only 3 sliders.
I always start with Dynamic contrast. It will take your picture from washed out to wow instantly. Go far to the right, until you feel this is too much and come back to the left until you are happy with the image. With drone images, I’ve found it is fine to go quite far on the right, sometimes all the way (it’s a question of personal taste here).
Go onto Correct Contrast next, and do a similar process. Correct contrast is extremely powerful, so you can’t go too far with this slider. And watch your histogram on the bottom right. If the highlights are clipping, which means the right part of the histogram looks peaked like the image below, you’ve got to stop. It means you are losing the information in the highlights (the brightest part of the image). In this example, it the waves became completely white, I lost all the details in them.
So stop right there, and click on highlights and move the slider on the right until that ‘peak’ has disappeared. This stops the filter from applying it to the highlights in your image. You can also have a similar situation where correct contrast makes the image too dark, and you can do the similar process with the shadows slider.
Lastly correct color cast, I use sparingly if there is a massive overcast in my image. If your image is warm overall, it will try to add some blue to it and vice versa. I don’t think this is the best place to do this, but sometimes a little bit might help to balance your image’s colours.
Once you save and go back to Photoshop and you feel the effect is too strong, you can always reduce the opacity of the layer to 70-80%.
And voila, play with Pro Contrast, it needs to become your best friend, this is the bedrock of my editing landscape photos.
As always don’t hesitate to ask me any questions in the comment section.