I'm a big fan of plug-ins. They help photographers expand their creative horizon. What's more, they are easy and fun to use. Not to mention affordable.
A few weeks ago I posed the top two pictures you see here. The top image is an HDR image created in Photomatix from HDR Soft.
The next image is that image enhanced with Topaz Adjust. Topaz Adjust is not a true HDR plug-in, but it's amazing what it can do from a single image.
The next image is the Topaz Adjust image transformed to a black and white image using Silver Efex Pro from niksoftware.
The bottom image was was created by adding the Magic Portrait Fixer in onOneSoftware's PhotoTools - with a bit of a saturation and contrast boost afterward in Photoshop. (I often play more in Photoshop after applying a plug-in. Try it. You'll like it.)
Save some bucks on Photomatix, Silver Efex and PhotoTools Professional Edition by clicking here.
The next time you apply a plug-in effect to one of your images, experiment with other plug-ins on the same image – and then continue your creative exploration in Photoshop, or Aperture or Lightroom, etc.
Explore the Light,