Strange Squares Appearing in Images Edited Using the Nik Collection

by Apr 6, 2022Photo Editing Tutorials

Robin Whalley Landscape Photographer

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Strange Squares Appearing in Images Edited Using the Nik Collection

Recently I’ve received several emails asking for help with a Nik Plugin problem. What’s happening is that strange squares are appearing on images edited using some of the Nik Collection tools. This also came up when I recently ran a Lenscraft survey AND I’ve experienced this issue myself. Fortunately, I found a solution which I’m going to share in this article, and which may work for you.

Nik Collection Example Problem

Here’s a screenshot of the problem, when an image was opened using the Tone Mapping Plugin for HDR Efex Pro 2. If you look at the bottom of the preview you can see a square section which appears to be from part of the sky.

Problem example of squares appearing in images when editing in the nik collection

The difficulty when trying to track down the cause of a problem like this is that it’s rather erratic. It only seems to affect some of the Nik Collection plugins and the frequency and intensity of the problem also seem to vary.

The reason that I’ve illustrated the problem using HDR Efex Pro is that, at least for me, that’s where I’ve seen it most consistently. Even then, some days are worse than others and, on some days, it doesn’t happen at all. When it does happen, if I change a setting or use another preset, it might vanish or become worse.

The Problem Cause & Solution

Eventually, it was the inconsistent nature of the issue and seeing areas of the image redrawn in the wrong place that made me suspect a graphics processing problem. Once I realised this, correcting it was relatively easy.

When you open any of the Nik Collection plugins, you will find there is a button for Settings somewhere in the interface. With the plugins using the older interface design like Color Efex Pro and HDR Efex, it’s usually in the bottom left corner.

The Nik Collection GPU Setting

When you click the “Settings” button it opens a dialog with several sections arranged as vertical tabs, including one titled “GPU”. Click the GPU title to open that section.

Nik Collection Plugins including the GPU option

This section of the dialog displays information at the top about the GPU in your computer and below this a single option. The option controls if the Graphics Processing Unit in your computer will be used for image processing or not.

This option is ticked by default. Click it once to remove the tick and then click the OK button to close the Settings dialog. Now restart the Nik plugin to ensure the change takes effect. If GPU was the cause of the problem, you will probably find this has fixed it.

Please be aware that each Nik Collection plugin has its own setting for turning the GPU processing off and on. You will therefore need to turn off the GPU processing in each plugin where you see the problem.

More Nik Tutorials

You’ll find more high quality, free tutorials on my Nik Collection Tutorials page.

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