Tech Reviews

A Second Look at Detail Extractor

Not too long ago I blogged about using the Detail Extractor Filter in Color Efex Pro 4 by NikSoftware, since then I have used it a bit more while processing my aviation images. This image was taken last September of a F2G Super Corsair. Now a plane like this really doesn’t need an enhancer it just rocks the way it is but when working with the light in the early mornings it can have a nice effect on the plane. All planes have lots of little characteristics that you really can’t see until you’re up close and trying to bring out all of them is quite difficult but rewarding. Detail Extractor can help with that. For instance the front of the engine surrounded by the cowling is usually in shadow, this filter helps bring out some of that detail inside the shadow. In fact it does a great job with any shadow. The under sides of wings always seem to pop out without bringing out any noise. It’s really cool!

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Here are the exact same image processed in the same way but with two different percentages of the filter applied. Take a look at both of them.

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The top one has only about 10% detail extracted, the bottom is 70%. This filter can do amazing things but it can easily be overused. It IS a tool to have but a couple notable concerns you might want to think about. First off if your image isn’t clean of dust it will become apparent instantly. I’ve had to go back numerous times because I thought I got it all and I didn’t. Next the sky, there isn’t much detail to bring out in the sky so using the whole filter won’t due much good with a bald sky. In fact if there is any vignette in the sky it will be pulled out and not look good. Using the points or brush application seems to work best for controlling where you want that detail pulled out. It also makes it easier to use higher levels of extraction. Finally the one that seems most prudent to me is if you make a selection in the image and brighten that selected area and then go into CEP4 for detail Extractor, there is a good chance of creating a halo. The lower image here is an example of that, it can happen. You don’t want that to happen because it’s a sure sign that you played with your images in post.

Now I’m not saying any of this to be mean merely to inform others so that they can avoid wasting time as I have done. I hope anyone reading this does go out and play with this. If you don’t have CEP4 yet you can download a 15 demo and give it a try. This simple plugin does a really great job. This is one of those filters that can easily get you hooked just like Tonal Contrast or even an HDR look. It’s amazing what can be done and the looks that can be achieved.

Images Captured with Nikon D3, AF-S 70-200 VRII, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

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