One of the best features of Nik HDR Efex Pro 2 is that they have Adjustable control points. Control points allow you to change the effect and exposure balance on selected areas of the image. Most HDR programs in tone mapping allow you to make adjustment globally but don’t let you work on Local areas. Nik HDR Efex pro does.
So let’s take a look at how Control Points work.
When I first saw Control Points in Nik HDR Efex pro when it was introduced, I actually was a little confused by them. I thought they just worked like a circular selection tool in Photoshop with a feathered edge. No, they are far more sophisticated than that and the fact they show that circle is probably what makes it confusing.
So before we use them let’s take a look at how they work and then it will make more sense. First the point itself. It is going to look at the tone of what lies directly underneath it, so in our sample image, if the point was over a cloud or the white sky, will make a difference on how the effect affect different ones. It won’t only affect that tone but the bias will be to those or similar tones first.
Then you have the area circle, this affects how big of an area the adjustment works on. But again, this will NOT be a hard edge or even feathered edges since that would sitill give you a strange circular pattern on your image. So instead, the effect continues to be adjusted outside of that area to the tones that the center point is over. They just are affected to a smaller and smaller degree as it moves away from the center point. There may be a pixel totally on the other side of the image and not in the circular pattern that may be affected. But just in a much smaller proportion to what is contained within that circle area. This keeps the image very natural looking and not these big haloed circular areas put all over the image.
Putting control points to use
I thought I would use an image we used last week in the post about problems and how to fix them. If you remember from that post, we wanted to get our building the right tone of white. So taking that image into HDR Efex Pro, I was easily able to get that building to look correct; however certain other areas of the image were affected globally and now looked bad. So let’s use control points to bring those areas back under control.
Here is the image and the problem areas pointed out.
We’ll start with the large area of sky that is now blown out and has no detail. I am going to place a point there by clicking the “Add Control Point” button and place it over an area of open sky and I adjusted the circle out to cover a good portion of the area I wanted to affect. I lowered the exposure by .5EV and also reduced the white level by about 21%
If we go over to the adjustments panel and to the control point section, we can turn on the mask area (Pointed out by the arrow) to see really what areas and tones are being affected by this adjustment. This is where you really can see better how things are affect and how while the areas that have the largest amount of the effect applied to are within the confines of that circle. It really is not applied in a circular fashion. We can also see in the adjustment panel that this control point affects 31% of our total image area.
Now I can go ahead and place more control points throughout the image and adjust each one of the separately to really bring out that areas so that it looks best.
With all of my control points in place and the mask on we can see the areas of the image that are affected by our control points.
One thing to take note of, see inside the garage where I am showing the active control point. I placed the control point on a midtone of the red Life preserver.
In the next image I show how the control point changes the affected area by moving the control point to dark area of the wall.
And here is our final image with all the control points in place showing how those point are now corrected without changing the global look of the image or how the building exterior looks.
Control points are available on various other Nik offerings like Sliver Efex Pro, Color Efex Pro and Sharpener Pro 3.0. Just their operation may vary depending on the program. But it sure is nice having that control.
To Try or Buy HDR Efex Pro 2 as part of the Nik Collection by Google click the link below