Visions of Poppies Dance in My Head

Poppy - Tonal

Poppy – Tonal Contrast © 2011 Bo Mackison

I’m experimenting with my favorite flower from last spring – the pink poppy. I am slowly exploring a few post processing techniques. For several years I refused to try any pre-sets, instead choosing to do everything one step at a time. Every change in a photograph was a small change I chose. And I did many behind the scenes changes, but always with the intention of maintaining the look of original as I had visualized it.

Then I met Mike Moats at the Leeper Park Art Fair (South Bend) in June, and as we each looked at each other’s booth and art, Mike told me about the Nik software he is using almost exclusively for post processing. He invited me to attend a webcast he was giving on Using Nik Software.

I penciled the webcast in on my calendar, and then watched Mike demonstrate the Nik software, making tiny change after tiny change. The part that surprised me was that he often made the changes that I thought would be good changes to make. We were, if not the same wavelength, perhaps on neighboring wavelengths.

I was quite impressed with the software, and realized that the presets were only the jumping off stage — once you choose a preset, there are a million opportunities to individualize each photograph.

The above macro photo of the pink poppy did not have as much detail as I had hoped for at the focal point where the two rain-soaked petals overlap. I used the Nik preset called Tonal Contrast, and the raindrops suddenly popped off the screen. It provided a boost in the detail and I was able to get the abstract look I wanted.

So far, I’ve experimented with three different pre-sets on this poppy, plus many more on other photographs. I’ll post the original poppy plus the modified photos later this week.


Bo Mackison is a photographer and the owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC. She is experimenting with Nik software this month — exploring and testing and comparing, and having great fun with her photos.


About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. Fascinating description. Lovely photo. Those water drops do just pop! I, too, watched Mike’s webcast. It led me to purchase Viveza 2. I couldn’t afford Nik Efex Pro also. I’m curious, did you buy the Select Edition or the Complete Edition? I’m enjoying using Viveza. Looking forward to more of your photos.

    • Thanks, Anita. I bought the Complete as it was 40% off and cheaper than the Select version. I find I use Viveza less than I expected, but as I get more comfortable with these products that may well change.

  2. I look forward to comparison…

  3. I am intrigued by the crisp focus and progressive softening of the lines and colors. Very nice.

  4. Very nice, Bo. I’m not familiar with presets and will be watching your progress.

    • Jury is still out on how much I will use them. I cannot imagine spending so much time with each photo, but it does take those special photos a bit farther. I do like that!

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