In part 1 of this article, we explored what a Silver Halide print is, how to prepare a file in Adobe Photoshop for Analog Efex Pro, and how to create a neutral B&W starting point in the filter. Now, it’s time to continue to explore Nik Collection‘s editing processes to make the most creative silver halide print! 

Starting with a Neutral Image

In part 1 we created a neutral preset. Start by selecting that to load up a basic B&W conversion. This allows us to add effects, instead of takin them away. It also gives us an easy way to “reset” the image without having to go back and manually adjust a bunch of settings to neutral.

The Film Type adjustments have a lot of effects built into them already. So if you start by adjusting exposure or curves or vignetting, you may end up negating those with the film type. Therefore, start here, and then make adjustments afterwards.

This adjustment doesn’t offer much guidance on what you’ll get with each option. You really just have to click through them and see what looks best for your particular photo. For the photo I’m workin with, the #2 preset in the middle row works out quite well. You’ll see that her eyes are a little too dark, so we’ll fix that next.

Apply Basic Adjustments as Needed

On this photo, a little bit of Detail Extraction actually benefits it greatly. Not only does it amplify her blouse, but it also brings out details in her hair, setting it against the background quite nicely. It even brings her eyes up a bit — it’s a pretty great all-in-one adjustment!

Use Control Point

The darkness of her eyelashes are still a bit too much though. A quick Control Point added to those and brightened up a bit will fix that easily. Look closely at the screenshot below. You’ll see that I’ve added a control point to the eyelashes and brightened it just a little. But then I also added a control point with no effect right on her eye.

This protects her eye, which would otherwise have been affected by the first control point. To see this clearly, be sure to enable the mask view on the Control Point you’re working with while you move the Control Point around. See the screenshot below for how to enable that.

For this image, I’ll leave the vignetting and curves adjustments alone, at least for now. Of course I may decide to revisit them later! 

Let’s start the creative Silver Halide Print

Now that a solid base image has been created, it’s time to get creative. There are so many tools to chose from that will dramatically affect the overall look of the image. In fact, every remaining filter will do that! I encourage you to explore all of them, of course. For this photo, I’ll start with the Double Exposure. This image already has a bit of a spooky, etherial look to it and I want to play off of that vibe.

To add any effect, open the Cameras list on the left if it’s not already visible, and click the (+) next to any effect you want to add. I’ve twisted the double exposure with the Rotate Strength, lowered the exposure and moved around a bit.

Add Dirt & Scratches

Next up, I’ll add some Dirt & Scratches to make this look like an old print found in an attic somewhere. A word of caution with this effect; it’s really easy to overdo it. The strength starts at 100% which is a good way to preview just what the overlay is doing. But be sure to scale it back quite a bit before you move on. For this photo, I chose one from the Eroded category, and scaled it back to about 50% strength.

Use a Photo Plate

Then I added a Photo Plate. This is another great old / scratched / vintage addition. For my photo, I chose one from the Streaked category and dialed it back to –75% (by going negative, it inverts the dark/light areas). But more importantly, I added a control point to the top of the image where the double-view of her face was, dialing the effect back to zero there. The effect had obscured the eyes up there, which I found to be an important part of the image. So if you add any of these effects to your photo but find that it’s obscuring an important element, don’t forget about the Control Points!

Next and last thing…

The last thing I want to add here is Frames. Old photos like what I’m trying to recreate here were often printed with white borders, so I’ll add that in now. I chose one under the White category, and scaled it back a little big, making the border a bit smaller than the default.

I do feel like the white itself is a bit too white… I really want that to be dirty as well. So, we’ll do a little Photoshop trickery for that, which we can do because this image started as a Smart Object. Confused? Don’t be, it’ll all make sense in a moment.

Finalizing in Photoshop

Hit OK on the filter, which will bring it back to Photoshop. Select the layer in the Layers list and duplicate it. Then double-click on the title of the filter Analog Efex Pro 2 to open it back into the filer editor. Disable the Frames and hit OK, going back to Photoshop again. Now you have two layers of the photo, one with the frame and one without. What I want to do is been between the two layers, and there’s lots of ways to do that. You could create a mask on the top layer and brush the frame back in by revealing the framed-image below, but what I did was choose the Darken blend mode. You could adjust the opacity of the layer, too… lots of ways to go! Here’s what your creative silver halide print looks like:

Time to Print

Remember the original topic here is all about the Silver Halide print. If you decide to print, be sure to follow the guidelines of the print company you’re working with. For example, one of the print companies listed below specifics a 300dpi JPEG at the exact size you want to print at works best. However if you don’t have enough pixels to do that at the size print you want to make, before you just scale up in Photoshop, I recommend talking to your printer. They may have recommendations on how they’d like to handle it. For example, they may have superior scaling software, or prefer to let the printer rasterizer do the scaling. The only way to know is to ask!

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