NIK has some pretty terrific plug-ins that are worth exploring. Also, NIK has developed U point technology to allow global and selective control of filters without masks and layers. More info at http://www.niksoftware.com/
The plugins interface with Photoshop as well as Lightroom and Aperture. My personal favorite is NIK Silver Efex Pro for B&W and toned images. Silver Efex also gives you the option of adding grain to mimic film types as well as Holga, pin hole and Infrared filters. Color Efex Pro 3.0 is also fun to play with for classic to wild color filter effects. Sharpener Pro 3 provides the ability to selective or globally sharpen or soften images with soft proofing cabability with improved control of the print. One I have not worked with yet, but plan to, is Viveza-2. Here is a great review of this newly revised Viveza-2 Plugin from NIK with links to other reviews and tutorials:
Capture NX for Nikon users provides limitless control of raw processing that is said to be superior to Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) but I still prefer the additional features and workflow of Lighroom to process my RAW files.
MY WORKFLOW includes downloading my images into LIGHTROOM from the memory card as a DNG file under the date with my custom re-naming format (YYYYMMDD_custom text_3digit sequence#) and with a backup RAW file (I keep for one or two months only until my archiving is complete) while adding my copyright metadata and some general keywords. I then do most of my global and selective RAW processing here (since the same as ACR). I may apply a NIK filter here or go on to edit in Photoshop as a Smart Object (Open as a Smart Object in Photoshop as a TIFF file or PSD with maximize compatibility selected in PS preferences - hit the down arrow with copy file options or set this up in advance under preferences). NOW this is important: When the edit is completed, I use SAVED AS and save it back in the same folder where the original is stored (DNG is my preference over NEF). Then if this image needs to opened through Lightroom and re-edited, the layed and editable RAW file is available. Remember, however to edit now in Photoshop CS4 (NOT as a smart object) but EDIT the Original (lowest checkbox on the list). If these steps are followed exactly, you will have a completed processed file (Derivative) that is still layered and available for further editing whenever needed stacked with the original image. This has always been a perplexing problem for many requiring them to save multiple copies of these large layered files. The solution was given to me courtesy of Tim Grey's newsletter at http://www.timgrey.com/. Sign up is free and highly recommended.
I hope this helps! More tips to follow. Next to tackle is HDR processing workflow via Lightroom and Photomatix Pro. I welcome questions and comments here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit my website at http://www.jmonteferrante.com/
Happy clicking and remember you are making a photograph not just taking one.