Google Nik Efex Now Free

Nik Software CompleteThe Powerful Nik Efex Suite is now free

As from March 24th 2016 Google has made the latest version of Nik efex plug-ins for free to download for all users. The Nik Collection is comprises seven desktop plug-ins set of image enhancement tools and photographic filter plug-ins for Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom , Elements and Aperture and other photo-manipulation and RAW conversion software. The collection includes:


  • Analog Efex Pro:  which allows you create the look and feel of classic cameras, films, and lenses.
  • Color Efex Pro: A powerful set of filters for color correction, retouching, and creative effects.
  • Silver Efex Pro: to create the best black-and-white photography with darkroom-inspired controls.
  • Viveza: to selectively adjust the color and tonality of your images without complicated masks or selections.
  • HDR Efex Pro: “From natural to artistic, explore the full potential of HDR photography.
  • Sharpener Pro:  to bring out hidden details consistently with the professional’s choice for image sharpening.
  • Dfine: a powerful sharpening and noise reduction tool to improve your images.

For a while Google offered version 1.007 of the Nik Collection for free back in 2013 after it had acquired Nik Software, but not long after the plug-in collection was selling for $149. Google say users who have purchased the Nik Collection in 2016 will be offered a full refund. Too bad for those who got it for Christmas. Worse for me as I paid £199 for the Nik Collectin back in 2012.

Nobody seems to know why Google are doing this and they say on the website:

Google: We’re excited to bring the powerful photo editing tools once only used by professionals to even more people now.

The general consensus on the web seems to be that they are no longer willing to continue development of the plug-ins in their current form, which would be a real shame. Only time will tell.

In the meantime, grab a bargain from here.

New Zoom Lens from Canon

Mark II of the Popular 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 L Lens Announced


Click for larger view

Of particular interest to myself, the much rumoured replacement from the 16 year old, EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L, push-pull, zoom lens has finally been announced from Canon.

Read More»

Fun With Video

I’ve not posted for quite a while, but that’s because I’ve been quite busy with other projects, one of which was to prepare a lecture for my local photography club, Worksop Photographic Society. My lecture was entitled “Ice Alert” at the suggestion of one of the members, but was really about my trips to Iceland and Antarctica. The title was fun though.

I first went to Iceland in 1975 believe it or not, where I spent almost 5 weeks as part of a School Geology and Geography Field Trip. It was amazing experience for an 18 year old. I did take a camera .. my mum’s Kodak Instamatic,

Read More»

Cashback On A Great Lens

Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L Deal

As part of their 2014 Summer Cashback scheme Canon UK are offering various rebates on several cameras, printer and lenses. Normally I don’t pay that much attention to what’s on offer as it’s rarely something I want. However, this time around one I notice that of the lenses is the fabulous EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens.

Read More»

Thoresby Gallery Exhibition

Worksop Photographic Society “Foto – Image” Exhibition


Worksop Photographic Society are staging an exhibition of photographs entitled “Foto – Image” at the Thoresby Gallery from the 5th to 27th of July. The gallery is part of the Thorseby estate, situated near Budby, a few miles north of Ollerton, Nottinghamshire. Rather uniquely, this is the first time the gallery has staged an exhibition of photographs, normally being reserved for the display of paintings.

Read More»

Travel Photography Supplement

Pictures published in DSLR Photography Magazine


It’s good to see some of your own pictures in print. If you’ve bought a copy of the July 2014 issue of  Digital DSLR photography magazine here in the UK, you’ll see some of mine. There’s a special travel supplement included with this issue and a few of my pictures were chosen to accompany the articles inside. You’ll even find a few words from yours truly, abeit a tad brief. It’s a great supplement with some great advice if travel photography is your bag. The cover has a simply stunning portait of a youg girl by Brett Harkness.

The pictures published are show below.

[slideshow_deploy id=’3441′]

Appalling Service from Adobe

Story of the Old Acrobat

acrobat-iconThis post is not specifically photography related, but as I use Adobe products in photography I think it’s relevant, and it sure has soured my impression of Adobe. Like many I use Adobe Acrobat; the free Acrobat reader to view PDF files but I also own a copy of Acrobat Standard for creating my own PDF documents. It’s quite an old version I must admit, Version 8.0 in fact, which harks back to 2007. I’ve this version used it quite successfully on my desktop PC since 2008. The PC originally came with Vista, but soon afterwards upgraded to Windows 7, and used Acrobat 8 without any major issues.

Old Software, New PC

Internet Connection Not Detected – error code 159:41

I’ve just replaced my PC , which came with (at my choosing) the same Windows 7 Professional 64-bit OS.  I’d planned to install my Adobe Acrobat 8.0. It worked fine on the old PC, so I had no reason to think it wouldn’t work on my new PC with the same OS. Well, just how wrong could I be and several hours were wasted trying to get the dam thing working without any success; no thanks to Adobe!

Lack of Activity

Activation of Adobe products by phone is no longer supported

The software requires an activation code, typically accomplished via the internet. However, I should have realised something was up when I got the message “Internet Connection Not Detected, Error code 159:41“. Of course I spent ages messing around to see if there were any  problems with my internet connection, but everything else connected worked just fine. I tried all the usual stuff, turning off the firewall and anti-virus, but still got the same response.

I checked and see that this is a technical issue, you will have to contact our technical support team to resolve this issue

There’s is an option however, to Activate by phone, so I thought I try that, only to be given the recorded message “activation of Adobe products by phone is no longer supported, please visit for further assistance“. I tried, but that page is utterly useless and you just find yourself going around in circles getting nowhere. I eventually found a link to a Chat window with a support agent, but after repeatedly been told to click the “Try Again” box in the install procedure, I received  the following reply: “I checked and see that this is a technical issue, you will have to contact our technical support team to resolve this issue“. What .. I thought I was talking to technical support!

Another Useless Web Page

Unfortunately, I was then directed to another useless web page ( where I was told I could contact technical support. It contains plenty of telephone numbers, but no mention of one for technical support! Luckily I viewed the page whilst still on the chat window, so I demanded the number for UK technical support before my support agent vanished into cyberspace. Call 0207 365 0735 for UK technical support. I tried it, it’s for everything. Several automated submenus later I finally got to talk to a heavily accented agent who eventually said ” Your product is no longer supported by Adobe” and simply refused to go any further.  I actually own this product but Adobe now REFUSE to let me activate it. And advice offered from Adobe .. buy the latest version; apologies .. none.

Your product is no longer supported by Adobe


Adobe make some terrific products, but with this sort of attitude it’s no wonder their software is some of the most bootlegged around. Whilst I can understand (but do not agree with) them not wanting to support legacy products, preventing us from using them is simply wrong. Will I be buying Adobe Acrobat XI .. not a cat in hells chance I’m afraid. Shame on you Adobe!

Postscript: I’m currently using Nuance (Scansoft) PDF Create Version 8 which is OK, but not ideal. If anyone can suggest a better alternative please do.

A New PC, but it’s not Apple

Out with the Old, In with the New

My ageing Windows desktop PC has finally reached a point where I need to replace it. The processor now struggles with the modern day demands of my rather large Lightroom Catalog and Preview files which just take too long to render. I  no longer have the patience to sit and wait. No, the time has come to get something new, shiny, sleek and a dam sight faster.

Read More»

Antarctica Video

Courtesy of Chris Sanderson, there is now an 18 minute video of my trip with Luminous Landscape to Antarctica earlier this year. It is really a taster (advertisement) for future LuLa trips there, but contains some stunning Antarctic scenery and wildlife, and for me a great reminder of such good times. I had hoped to embed the video below but unfortunately their privacy setting’s won’t allow that, so you just have to click on the screen grab below linked to the video. It’s well worth a watch. and there’s even the odd glimpse of yours truly.

Read More»

Day 5 – Whales, Icebergs & Penguins

Cierva Cove

Our morning was greeted by what was to become a very familiar voice, that of Morten Jørgensen, the Antarctica XXI expedition leader, urging us to rise from our bunks as there was “some really nice light outside“, and being we were all photographers it was something we “really shouldn’t miss“.

Cierva Cove

Iceberg and reflections, Cierva Cove

On deck, for those that took heed to the call, we were indeed greeted by some early morning, pale yellow light, and our first glimpse of the Danco coastline of mainland Antarctica with the occasional iceberg drifting by. That was soon followed by our first of many sitings of Humpback whales, which brought almost everyone to the viewing deck; a multitude of cameras snapping away like a veritable horde of paparazzo. For me this was the first time I’d really seen a whale up close … the trip was starting well.


Humpback Whale and whale shaped iceberg at Cierva Cove

Not long after the Ocean Nova was gliding into Cierva Cove littered with numerous icebergs from the surrounding glaciers. Impressive scenery indeed. The light was good too;  a lovely covering of quilted cirrocumulus stratiformis clouds providing a natural soft box. Great light for photographing icebergs. Soon were were cruising in amongst them in our zodiacs, with almost flat, calm, waters providing great refections of  icebergs and mountain peaks. Could it get any better than this?  It did. A couple of Humpbacks were spotted amongst the bergs, and a Minke whale swam right along side of our zodiac. I saw his eye checking us out. Wow!

Fluke shot

A fluke shot !

Time just flew by, and soon we were being urged to make an immediate return to the ship. In fact we were rather late and another Zodiac with approached with Morton onboard. Kevin Raber, our LuLa instructor was asked to switch zodiacs fully expecting a blocking from Morton for staying out too long. Instead he was given to opportunity to fulfil a long term wish – to drive a Zodiac in Antarctica. I think Morton just made his day!

Hydruga Rocks

Hydruga Rocks

Cruising around Hydruga Rocks

After a most enjoyable lunch, dominated by chat about our fabulous morning, we headed for Hydruga Rocks for our first landing. A group of low rocky islands in the northern part of the Gerlache Strait named after the latin mame for the Leopard seal, Hydruga leptonyx. Funnily enough there are no leopard seals there. The islands, with lots of bare rocky outcrops, are home to a large colony of Chinstrap penguins, but we also saw fur seals, Blue-eyed Shags, Snowy Sheath-bills, as well as an elephant seal and several Weddell and Crabeater seals. After a couple of hours amongst the islands wildlife, the afternoon was completed with a cruise around the island on our return to the ship.

Chinstrap penguins

Chinstrap penguins, obviously stopping for a chin-wag!

At 18:30 in the evening we attended what was to become another familiar feature of our voyage, our daily briefing and recap in the panorama lounge.  Here the Antarctica XXI crew reviewed the days antics and wildlife that had been observed, but more importantly what was planned for the day to come. With fine weather prevailing,  a decision had been made to heading south to cruise the famous Lemaire Channel at sunrise followed by a 5:30 am zodiac cruise around the icebergs of Pléneau Bay. Expect a wake up call at 03:45am!

Sleeping Fur Seal

A sleeping Fur Seal

< Day 4


© Copyright johnbirchphotography - Designed by Pexeto