Silver Shadows 2 Review
Who better to demonstrate Silver Shadows 2? Then read my review.
When Gavin Seim (rhymes with time) released Silver Shadows 2, the latest version of his Lightroom black-and-white converter, he wrote that “the goal for Silver Shadows 2 was to create a complete silver conversion toolkit to provide photographers of all levels with refined black-and-white right inside Lightroom.” Ambitious and most welcome goals for all us Lightroom users, no? An efficient and easy-to-use toolkit that we can use completely within Lightroom, AND at an affordable price, would be a most welcome addition to our processing workflows. So, the $64,000 question – did he succeed?
For you cut-to-the-chase readers: the short answer is “yes.” The program works as advertised; it contains more than 100 easy-to-use presets that cover a wide range of black-and-white looks. You can do it all within Lightroom, a real time-saver. Silver Shadows is affordable and worth the asking price ($45 if you order prior to November 30th; $54 after that). My recommendation for Lightroom users: add this program to your toolbox.
My original, light-painted image.
The conversion I wanted (in 30 seconds).
For you readers who have a bit more patience: if you already own Nik’s very popular Silver Efex Pro 2 black-and-white converter, Silver Shadows 2 will not replace it completely. Silver Efex Pro includes a set of handy photo borders. It has that very nifty control point technology that gives you pinpoint control over putting in or leaving out adjustments. If you don’t like or don’t use Lightroom, you still can use this popular program. But you know what? That’s about all it has over Silver Shadows 2. Really. And for a price difference of $199.95 (for the Nik software) versus a maximum of $54 (for Gavin’s program after November 30th), Silver Shadows 2 is a real bargain.
Presets are incredibly valuable for getting you immediately into the processing neighborhood you want to be in. SS2 (a little shorthand from now on) includes plenty to choose from. They include grain, tints, vignettes, classic looks, modern looks, and Gavin’s own favorites among others. The presets are easy to understand at-a-glance because many of them have codes attached to the title (such as G for a gradient filter that is applied). You will get a major hint at what the preset does many times from its name, also (for example, Tarnished Leather gives you a light bronze look). And if you are like the majority of us, you will begin to find favorites that you will remember what they do and what look you get.
Presets can be mixed and matched to give a new, personalized look to your image. All the Lightroom sliders still are available to you during processing. You have invested time and energy already into learning Lightroom; that knowledge translates directly into using Silver Shadows 2. There is no new learning curve; if you can use Lightroom, you can use SS2 efficiently right out of the box. There are some great programs out there that I just don’t have time to learn (I need to know how to use the ones I already have to their fullest). SS2 fits nicely into the Lightroom family you already are familiar with.
So, you ask, why don’t I just make up my own presets and save the money? If you have the time and ability, go for it. I don’t, and the time I do have I want to spend taking and processing photos. Plugins are valuable exactly because they mean you don’t have to continually re-invent the wheel. And sitting down to develop and tweak and coordinate more than 100 VALUABLE (not just different) presets is not a task to be taken on lightly. PLUS SS2 has batch processing tools to help you do all your similar images much more efficiently than my one-at-a-time previous method. Ask yourself: what is your time worth, what is your skill set, and what do you enjoy doing the most? If you enjoy taking and processing photos, Silver Shadows 2 will make your life easier.
Silver Shadows 2 is not Photoshop. Nor does it pretend to be. It is a Lightroom program that will help you convert your images to black and white, easily and efficiently. This program works. It is a very worthwhile addition to your bag of tricks. It is affordable (and in today’s economy that is a most welcome trait). I recommend this program to any Lightroom user who even occasionally converts an image to black-and-white. You will not be disappointed.
Click here to visit Gavin Seim’s website and check out his programs for yourself. Then click here to visit the Silver Shadows 2 page, complete with Gavin’s 45 day money back guarantee if you are not 100% satisfied with your purchase. What more could you ask for?