Anything Photoshop or Photography

Use NIK Color Efex Pro 4 and Silver Efex Pro 2 Together to Create Fabulous Landscapes!


I love this Hawaiian image of the wonderful wooden boats that run between the different stopping points along the one mile walkway at the Hilton Waikoloa Village resort. These boats are an absolutely great way to move about – and a great way to meet other people!

I tried a new technique to process all the landscape blog images that was learned from another of Nik’s great webinars! The first example in “Integrating the Complete Collection Workflow to Create the Dynamic Image” by Dan Hughes was used to create all these great effects. It does require that you own both Nik Photoshop plug-ins, Silver Efex Pro 2 and Color Efex Pro 4.

Here is the basic workflow.

1. First adjust the image in Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw and bring it into Photoshop – clean up any problem areas and noise.

2. Go into Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 – this image used the High Structure (Harsh) preset, which seems to be a good starting place on most images tried (and Dan Hughes started with this one). Go to the Color Filter section and set the Color and Color Strength slider. Adjust globally the Contrast sliders and Structure sliders. If the clouds look too sharp, which they did in this image, use a (-) Control Point on the clouds to remove some of the effect in this area. Add (+) Control Points in areas you want more Contrast or Fine Structure. The Structure sliders add texture to the image and make it appear very sharp. Exit to Photoshop and change the Layer Blend Mode to Luminosity – this is an important step!

3. Open Nik Color Efex Pro 4. Any of your favorite filters can be selected but the above image and Nik’s example used these two filters stacked: Brilliance/Warmth – use the Perceptual Saturation slider which works like the human eye sees color; and Darken/Lighten Center which acts like a vignette. Exit to Photoshop.

4. Final steps to consider are adding a High Pass filter to sharpen the image further, and adding a Curves Adjustment Layer for additional contrast. Not all images will need these steps, but both were used on the image above using a High Pass Radius set to 8.9 and a Curves Adjustment Point set to -1/2. (See the tip on the image in my Tidbits Blog “I Didn’t Know That! Curves Adjustment Layers.”)
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The view of the coastline from one end of the Hilton Waikoloa Resort used the exact same workflow as above. Nik’s Viveza 2 filter was added after the other two plug-ins to even out the saturation in the brown rock wall. This could have been done in Photoshop using a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer with the mask filled to black –  use a soft brush set to low opacity to bring in the saturation where you want it.
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This is an image of the road up Mauna Kea volcano on the Big Island in Hawaii – it has a bit of a surreal feel but the wild yellow daisies were beautiful and unusual. The same basic workflow was used except that the stacked  filters used in Color Efex Pro are the Detail Extractor, the Graduated Neutral Density to darken the top some, and Pro Contrast to make the yellow flowers show up more. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was targeted for just the flowers (using the same technique as on the wall above) to get the correct yellow tone. The original filters from the workflow were tried first, but the results did not look quite right to me so more experimenting had to be done until I came up with the ones used. Don’t get discouraged if you do not like the results with the filters you start with – there is always something in Color Efex Pro that will enhance even the most difficult images.
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Image is of Lapakahi State Historical Park on the Big Island in Hawaii, which shows part of a 600 year old village ruins. It was processed using the above workflow and adding Midnight to the bottom of the stack to get a little less of that bright daylight look. Otherwise the same workflow was followed.
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The Umauma Falls image is an example of a more difficult image to process. The first iteration used the settings in the workflow – it looked okay but the waterfalls were lost in the all the detail and color in the image. So I went back into Color Efex Pro 4 and started over. This time the following filters were stacked: Detail Extractor; Foliage to make the yellow flowers show up better; Remove Color Cast for the overdone yellow-green feel that is common in nature shots; Midnight – this filter made the image pop and gave it a “later in the day” feel (set to Color Set Blue, Blur slider moved way back to 10%, and the overall opacity of the filter set to 58%); and Vignette Blur using Type 3 to guide the eye through the image – a couple (-) control points were set on the waterfalls so they stayed in focus. After changing the plug-in filters, the whole image took on a totally different look. I think it gives a more unique look to the falls and does not look as much like your typical tourist shot.

QUICK TIPS: When working with Color Efex Pro 4, be sure to experiment with the Shadows and Highlights sliders at the bottom of many of the filters. By moving the sliders even just a little, you can bring out some missing details so be sure to check it out each time. Also, click on the arrow by the Control Points to get to the filter’s overall opacity sliders and try reducing some of the effect. The Midnight filter at 100% looked way overdone on the waterfall image. Press P to toggle between your original and your current look quickly.

If you have these programs, give this easy workflow a try – stacking the different Nik plug-ins can give some great results and takes your work to a higher level. And if you have not listened to some of Nik’s webinars, check them out – they have many great tips by some very knowledgeable people…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
NIK Color Efex Pro 4 – Digital Lady Syd’s Review!
Pseudo HDR Using NIK Color Efex Pro 4
NIK’s Champion Plug-in – Silver Efex Pro 2
Black and White Photo or Not? Give It a Try on That Difficult Image
Using NIK’s Color Efex Pro 4 and Viveza Together

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5 responses

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