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zoomed view of sunset areaReview of Nik Viveza for photo adjustment

A Photoshop plugin to correct/enhance images

Keith has been having a look at the Viveza plugin from Nik Software for this review.

It allows you to adjust images in subtle ways that would often take quite a lot more effort with normal masking.

Image adjustment

There are a number of techniques involving masked adjustment layers, that can be used for modifying images.

I've heard it said that learning efficient masking techniques is a key skill in advanced Photoshop use.

Unfortunately not everyone has the time or inclination to go for such an approach.

Viveza is designed to allow subtle selections to be made for application of adjustments to tone and colour.

Feb2010 - We have a review of V2 of Viveza

What do you get with Viveza

We're looking at the software working as a Photoshop plugin on a Mac here, but it works just fine under Windows. It also works with Elements, Apple Aperture and Lightroom.

It's possible to use the filter as a smart filter in Photoshop. This allows you to go back and re-adjust filter settings.

The software is available in a range of bundles and upgrade options. You can order by download or there are boxed versions.

I've recently looked at Nik Silver Efex Pro and Nik Sharpener Pro which offer similar selection mechanisms as in Viveza (Nik call it 'U-point'). If you're not clear about some of the selection options, then I'd suggest having a look at those reviews, since both have lots more examples.

Using Viveza

The first image I'll use to show Viveza at work, is one from our recent Gallery update. It was taken one cold January afternoon at Rutland Water in the UK.

I've processed the raw camera file with DxO V5 and already lightened some of the bottom of the image to bring up a bit of detail in the tree roots.

Since I'm printing this image (at 26"x17") I know that some of the colours of the sunset need to be enhanced to give the 'feel' for the image I'm after.

I always remember that for large prints like this, the emotional impact of the scene is very important. The colour contributes strongly to this - but it's the colour of the final print, not what's on screen that is important.

  • Do remember too, when looking at the images in this article that you are seeing them on the web, where colour management is still an afterthought, and screen shots have been reduced in size and compressed as JPEG images. I'm trying to give a feel for the effects you can get, not an accurate recording.

The image below shows the basic control screen for the Viveza plugin in Photoshop, with the Rutland water picture.

viveza opening screen

The small window at the bottom is a 100% detail or 'loupe' display

Viveza is all about control points. These are both the centre point for adjustments, and the source for image information used to control where the adjustment is applied.

There is one basic control here, and that is to add a new control point...

adding a viveza control point

I'm going to adjust some of the blue tones in the image to start with, so I've selected a blue area typical of what I want to alter (I've picked a blue in the middle of the range of brightnesses)

control point settings

The control point has four basic controls

You can either use the sliders at the control point or edit the numbers in the display to the right.

Note too how the colour you've selected appears in a little tile for the control point

If you move your mouse over the image below, you can see both the area of influence (the circle) and the effect of a saturation boost in the blue coloured areas.

saturation boost

The circle represents the general extent of the alterations, however it fades off in influence and covers a larger area.

There is a handy option to display what parts of the image are being affected.

If you move your mouse over the image below, you can see where is affected. The lighter the image, the more the adjustment effect is applied.

area affected by viveza filter

If you mouse over the image below, you can see the effect of lowering the brightness for the selected control point.

viveza brightness adjustment

I've next added a second control point, this time to affect some of the brightest sky near the horizon

Note again the tile, showing the colour you've selected.

At all times you can check detail.

The Loupe view gives a split before/after effect.

The small 'pin' button below the display allows you to lock the view position to anywhere in the image display.

This example shows blues with a slight saturation increase and brightness decrease, along with a saturation increase in the oranges of the reflected clouds.

There are techniques that you could use to do this effect without Viveza, but I for one don't use them often enough to always remember the exact process.

You can easily check the area of one or more control points as before.

Here's where the adjustment to the light oranges is being applied.

second viveza control point. Area where orange tones are being affected

You also have different ways of looking at a preview of the effects, such as the split screen before/after view.

split screen effect view

Or, a side by side comparison (remember - these are web images of screen grabs)

side by side comparion of adjustment effects

There are five more adjustments optionally available for each control point.

The colour channels alter the strength of the three component for any area affected, whilst the hue control allows for altering the basic colour, such as fixing an undue magenta tinge to a blue sky.

The warmth adjustment alters the effective colour temperature. Almost like being able to selectively tweak white balance for areas of your image.

I rarely use electronic flash, but this could be used to lower the colour temperature of people lit with fill flash outdoors. This could easily make up for some of the pale washed out look that people in such photos can have, particularly if taken with the Sun low in the sky. You could do multiple conversions from a raw file and mask them together, but Viveza might prove a whole lot faster, particularly if you've a whole load of images to do.

In the example below, I've warmed up a fair bit of the image area.

With this particular image, when finally printed, I'd only warmed up a bit of the brightest area, since I wanted to retain some of the feeling of coldness encroaching from the edges of the frame.

adding warmth to images

You can always check the main image at 100% to evaluate effects, whereupon the Loupe View becomes an overview of the whole image.

The picture below shows a zoomed view of some of the area I was 'warming' - less intensely than in the view above, but still slightly more than I used on the final print.

I was printing on a moderately high white luster paper, so I wanted to warm the sunset area to counteract the coolness of the paper. The paper colour then contributed to the coolness I wanted in other areas of the print. If you are doing adjustments like this, then it really does help to be comfortable with your soft-proofing set-up, as I discussed in the recent PDV Print viewing stand review.

zoomed view of sunset area

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You can use Viveza as a 'Smart Filter' which allows you to go back and alter settings, or you can add a layer mask and further refine application of the filter.

The masking option is available via the Nik Selective Tool. which allows you to selectively brush in or erase the effects of Viveza.

Conclusions

If you're thinking 'I could easily do all that in Photoshop', then congratulate yourself on your Photoshop skills - lots of people couldn't.

Like many plugins, Viveza makes some tasks easier to do - it's up to you to decide just how much your own workflow would benefit.

Initially I did wonder just what I'd use Viveza for in my particular work?

However, the recent set of prints I've created have been edited with a degree more subtlety that I might have managed before.

I've always been of the opinion that useful tools are there to make use of and adapt to your own needs.

See for yourself. The time limited demo version of the software is well worth trying.

There are a number of tutorials and demos of the software available on the Nik Software site.

Summary

Easy to use image editing plugin for subtle alterations to tone and colour.

Available both standalone and in various bundles, so it's worth checking for offers and the like.

System requirements

Macintosh

Windows

  • * Nik Software product filters are developed to integrate into many popular image editing applications that support the Adobe plug-in architecture and there are numerous software applications that accept Adobe plug-in compatible filters. Please consult your image editing application’s documentation for compatibility and installation instructions for 3rd-party plug-ins.

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