People seemed to like the previous set of Silver Efex Pro re-enactment images, so with a bit more experience of the software, I thought I’d post another set of pictures with similar treatments.

This time they’re from a couple of events in October. The first ones come from a weekend when “my” regiment garrisoned the Tower of London. Even if for me the Tower is a building I used to pass every day on my walk to the office, it’s still quite a privilege to spend a couple of days photographing there, and for the re-enactors it’s about as sexy a gig as you can get. What made it especially poignant for these guys was that the regiment, the Tower Hamlets Trayned Bandes, is closely modelled on its 17th century predecessor which was raised in that part of London and guarded the Tower during the war. And it’s not every day you get to take weapons and gunpowder into a UNESCO World Heritage Site where the Queen keeps her bling, is it?

The pictures were corrected in Lightroom 3 but finished in Silver Efex Pro 2. They were not sent directly to SFX though. While that would be the most obvious route, it would mean that SFX would return to Lightroom a flattened TIF file with all the toning, borders and local adjustments baked in. Instead I prefer to initially send pictures to Photoshop CS5 as smart objects, and then invoke SFX. This means SFX’s adjustments are applied as smart filters, so they remain editable and I can always go back to these files and fine tune the treatment. And this fine tuning is something I often do. The other difference from before is that I no longer seem to be using the Selective Colour slider in SFX to restore the colour but instead do it in Photoshop with a copy of the image layer with its Blending Mode set to Color. It’s a close choice, but I prefer the accuracy I can get by creating a mask with tools like Select > Selective Color, Quick Selection Magic Wand, or even just the Brush, Quick Mask and blur to hide my handiwork. You can see with this example how detailed some of the masks can become.

The other event was one Sunday at Knebworth House, an hour or so’s drive away, and was during the recording of an episode of a major ITV police drama series. We’ve been asked not to mention the programme name or the storyline, but a few hundred re-enactors had been hired as eye-candy and I was able to hang around and take pictures. Fascinating though it was to watch the filming (how many people does it take?), what I enjoyed most was the smoke they used to keep a consistent look throughout a long day and to provide atmosphere. In an ideal world, shouldn’t every photographer have 150 metres of smoke-pumping tubing?


*You’re talking roughly £160 for the Nik Silver Efex Pro software, and it does “only” do b&w. But it is a very well-designed program, powerful and easy to use. While I was also using Photoshop CS5 here, you can use it purely with Lightroom or just Photoshop Elements.