Plug Ins and Creative Tools

If you are seeking inspiration for interesting creative effects for your image, consider using plug-in software or creative technique actions.

Although I still do a lot of effects by hand, these tools make creative effects easy and can provide instant previews of how different effects might look for a particular image. Again, these are great time-saving tools that help creativity flow.

This section discusses three of the most popular creative effects plug-ins and program options.

Nik Software is a company with a range of products for photographers, but its most popular product is Nik Color Efex Pro. This plug-in software has 50+ separate filters with more than 250 different overall effects. From giving an image a 1950's glamour feel to a vintage film effect, there are dozens of effects you can instantly preview. This is a great tool for inspiration, because you see your image transform with different special effects applied. Nik's free trial allows you to test these tools firsthand.

As with Nik, onOne has a range of products addressing different practical and creativity needs. Many of the basic creative functionalities for Nik and onOne are similar. For creative purposes, you may want to try onOne's PhotoTools product for dozens of beautiful creative effects or its PhotoFrame product for edge and frame enhancements. A free trial lets you test these tools in Photoshop or even test as Lightroom/Aperture plug-ins.

Kubota Image Tools is a company that provides a variety of creative Photoshop actions and training materials. Photoshop actions are fundamentally instructions of repetitive changes to make to a file in Photoshop. For example, if you want a high-contrast image with desaturated colors and a vignette, you could create an action so that every time you want this effect, you apply this action to the file. This saves you time and creates consistent effects. Thousands of actions allow you to add creative effects to your images. Kubota sells themed action packs, so you can choose to purchase only effects that match your creative style. Kubota even has a pack specifically designed to complement the effects of Lensbaby. As a fashion flair photographer, you may be interested in Viva la Vintage, A3 High Fashion-Edgy, or the Texture Tools pack. Kubota's site,

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