Anything Photoshop or Photography

Nik’s Viveza 2 Plug-In – A Hidden Gem!

A while back I listened to a really good webinar at the old Nik site called Incorporating Nik Software into your Daily Workflow with Don Smith. (See my blog “Digital Landscape Effects with Nik Software.”) Don Smith runs a great website called Nature’s Best by Don Smith Photography. In his excellent workflow, that is discussed in my earlier blog, he talked about using Nik’s Viveza 2 plug-in, a powerful plug-in to selectively control color and light in your photographs. I have owned Viveza since it first came out and never used it that much since I thought it was like Adobe Camera Raw. I only used the plug-in after I had processed an image in Lightroom (or ACR) and could not get back to make adjustments*.

This image was taken on the road up to the incredible Waipi’o Valley – it represents how the Big Island of Hawaii felt and looked to me while I was there. It was very windy and I had to really work hard to get a good HDR shot since the tree leaves and waves were moving so much. The final result was processed with PhotoMatix Pro 4. (It gave a great result since it lets you pinpoint exactly where the problem areas will be.) The tone-mapped image was processed in Photoshop and the first thing done was to use Dr. Brown’s Edit Layers with ACR script to get rid of noise in the sky and blue water. Noise and clean up corrections need to be done first before applying the beautiful color and light effects that the Viveza plug-in adds. Next a composite layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) of the image was created and converted into a Smart Object, and then opened up in Viveza 2. Here is what my dialog box looked like before applying and after applying Viveza.

The top window shows how the image looked as it was brought into Photoshop at this point. The settings indicate what settings were used on the blue sky area but is not turned on in the view screen. The second image shows how the image looked once all five control points were turned on and gives a much closer look to the final. These settings show what ones were used where the dot is placed. The circle indicates where these settings will be applied and they can be applied by pulling out the lines on the image or adjusting the sliders on the right. You can set the control point circle size by just dragging out the bottom bar to fit. The really nice thing is that the changes you are doing will not affect colors that are not in its range where the point is set. If a slight change does occur, just set a control point in that area and do not make any changes – that part goes back to the original state. To finish the image a Curves Adjustment Layer was created to emphasize the grassy area and the sky. The masks were filled with black and the areas to emphasize were painted back in the mask using a very low opacity brush and building up the effect.

The important thing to understand is the the real power of this plug-in is not in the global adjustments you can make when you first open it up (which appear to be similar to ACR); it is with the use of the control points on the image that make this plug-in incredible! If you have just one area that is not sharp enough, just add a control point to that area and move the Structure (great little slider!) and maybe the Contrast or Brightness sliders to blend the area into the rest of the image. The Warmth slider is great also. If you want to warm up the image just a bit, as done above in the foreground area, it can really give a lovely lighted glow. To cool down are area, just move the slider a little bit to the left. Move the Structure slider to the left to make a background area smooth out in a blur so it practically disappears. The more you work with this little plug-in, the more handy it is. I am not sure I could process an image without it now – although I am still using Lightroom’s Develop module as my first step. Most people apply Viveza after using the other plug-ins like Nik’s Color Efex Pro, OnOne Perfect Effects 3, or Topaz Adjust or Black and White Effects. In this photo, Viveza was the only plug-in applied.

Another webinar I listened to at the Nik site was called “Mastering Macro Images with Nik Software & Photoshop Elements, Presented by Mike Moats” who also uses the basic workflow like Don Smith, but applies it to the macro world. If you like macro photography, check out his Tiny Landscapes blog for some great information. He uses Nik Color Efex 4 first and then Viveza to finish up his photos. On this image, I used a recipe created by Matt Kloskowski of Lightroom Killer Tips fame in Nik Color Efex 4 and then added a Lens Blur to soften the bottom left edge and background. In Viveza I used 7 control points for color adjustment. Mike Moats does a great job in this webinar showing you how to apply the control points so you get the best results. If you have this plug-in, even if you do not do macro photography, this video should be viewed.

The Dome is in the Main Building of Flagler College, aka. Ponce de Leon Hotel circa 1887 (79 Louis Comfort Tiffany stained glass windows line the dining room in this building). Viveza was used with 14 control points to bring out the detail since the lighting was so uneven. It was also processed using OnOne Perfect Effects 3 (see the sidebar in my Tidbits blog for website) where a Glow Effect was added using the Effect Options (Effect-Glow; Type-Surface; Strength-70; Halo-68; Threshold-60; and Mode-Softlight.) to bring out the rich brown wood feel.

I hope you can see how the colors and lighting are fabulous when this plug-in is applied to an image, and it also works with all kinds of other plug-ins. Take the time to download Viveza 2 and see if you like the results. Check out some of my short blogs listed below for more examples of what this plug-in can do. I believe that after having used this plug-in for several months now, if I could only have just one plug-in, it would probably be this one. It does more to improve my photos than any other plug-in I have used…..Digital Lady Syd

* Now that has changed since Dr. Brown has come up with his script to let you open a layer into ACR once inside Photoshop – see my blog “Edit Layers with ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) Script” which, among other things, lets you get into ACR’s Noise Reduction sliders to fix your image.

Digital Lady Syd’s Related Blogs:
Topaz Star Effects on a Wildflower?
The Macro Shot
Another Pseudo HDR from Me!
Combining Plug-ins for More Image Interest
OnOne’s Perfect Mask Works Great!
Problems for Big Ben
Daisies are Everywhere!

18 responses

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  4. great stuff, just used it for the first time on some flower photography thanks for the tips!

    06/04/2012 at 3:40 pm

    • Bill, thanks for the comment. You do some beautiful work on your site!…..Digital Lady Syd

      06/06/2012 at 5:30 pm

      • TYVM for the comment, I can say a good portion of it is only due to following some of the helpful insights found on this site! keep the information coming!

        06/06/2012 at 5:32 pm

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