It’s often difficult to know the best way to handle images with a high brightness range, especially in outdoor photography under bright skies. One solution is a graduated filter, which isn’t always practical, another is HDR software, which seems like an extreme solution to a simple problem. Here’s a third.
It’s called the Detail Extractor, and it’s a single slider within Analog Efex Pro’s Basic Adjustments panel. The presets in Analog Efex Pro use this panel and others to create their ‘looks’, but it is possible to use the Basic Adjustments panel on its own. For this, you need to swap from the camera categories in the drop-down presets menu, top left, and choose Camera Kit.
Here are some instructions on how to use the Analog Efex Pro Camera Kit from version 1 of the software. The tools and options have increased since then, but the principle is the same. If this is your first time with this software, see this guide on how to get started with Analog Efex Pro.
TIP: 16-bit TIFFs
How to use the Analog Efex Pro Detail Extractor
When you use the Camera Kit, you choose the panels you want to see by selecting them from the list in the left sidebar. I’ve selected only the Basic Adjustments tool in this list, so that’s the only toolbar showing in the right sidebar.
There’s almost nothing to know about the Detail Extractor slider. It has two actions, which increase in strength as you push the slider. It has the effect of bringing up shadow detail while bringing back highlights – exactly why you might try to achieve with HDR software – but it does it in a very naturalistic way. However, you should watch out for edge halos around hard object edges against bright skies (circled in this screenshot).
The Detail Extractor slider also has the effect of increasing local contrast and clarity, to give images a much grittier, more textured appearance. This really useful for images which look just a little flat and lifeless.
These two effects work in unison, you can’t control them individually, so you have to judge just how far to push the Detail Extractor slider. But there are two ways to adjust the result – you can use the Brightness, Contrast and Saturation sliders to adjust the image’s overall appearance, and you can use Control Points to change the effect in different areas.
Once you’ve got the image looking how you want it to, you can save it back to your host software or take it further by adding other tools and effects from the Camera Kit list in the left sidebar.
- DxO Nik Collection 3 review | Analog Efex Pro review
- More Nik Collection articles | More Analog Efex Pro articles
- Try/download the DxO Nik Collection
Other things to try
This is a new feature in the DxO Nik Collection 3 release, which lets you return to your editing steps in the Nik Collection plug-ins, even after you’ve saved and closed the image. Here’s how it works.