It is very easy to overdo it with photo filters, but when used correctly, filters can make your photos look much better than basic retouching. And as far as photo filtering plug-ins go, Nik Software’s Color Efex Pro 3.0 is one of the easiest to use, has plenty of options, and produces excellent results.
Color Efex Pro has 52 filters, more than 250 effects, and lets you edit multiple images at a time, flipping through them quickly and easily. One of the features that sets this software apart from other filter plug-ins is the “control points” option. After applying one of the filters, you can choose a region to exclude from the new effect. When you do this, your model in the foreground can remain untouched while the background gets filtered.
You can also change the opacity and size of the area affected for a unique and interesting look. If you’re a grayscale fan, Nik Software offers a similar plug-in that will desaturate your images and make them look like antiques.
Nik Software; $200