I am often asked about my digital photography post-processing tools and methods. I want to share with my fellow frugal photography enthusiasts a Photoshop plug-in that has quickly taken a key role in my post-processing workflow. Viveza, part of the free Google Nik Collection, is a wonderful tool that provides an easy, but highly effective way to selectively edit and control the two most important elements in any photo, color and light. With Viveza, you click on the portion of the image you want to edit, and make changes to brightness, contrast, and saturation. You control what portion of your image those changes will affect. To do this in Photoshop would require creating masks, working with layers, etc., a process that requires much more time and skill. With Viveza, all of those difficult steps are eliminated. Photographers at any level can post-process their photos in much the same way that the pros do, and get polished results.
Here is a recent example: The image below shows the converted default raw image open in the Viveza Plug-In in Photoshop. The default image is underexposed (I occasionally underexpose my images to preserve highlight detail). You add a control point by clicking on the portion of the image you want to edit (see the enlarged portion of the image), and a small control appears that allows you to edit the color and light in the selected portion of the image. By using Viveza, I was able to bring rich color out of the darkened areas of the image and leave the sky unedited. Typically, I now do 85% or more of my color and light edits in Viveza. The top image shows the final results. Other than resizing and sharpening for final output, all edits on this image were done in Viveza.
Using Viveza has streamlined my digital photography post-processing workflow, and reduced the time needed to create polished images. While I use this plug-in within Photoshop, it will also work with others photo editing software that is compatible with Photoshop plugins such as Corel Paint Shop Pro or Adobe Lightroom. Best of all, this tool is free as part of the Google Nik Collection. Check it out and get better color from your digital images!
Update: The Nik Collection Plugins have been sold to DxO by Google. For the present, they are being offered for free. That may change as DxO is incorporating the Nik Collection in its image editing software. Download the Nik Collection now (here’s the link) while they are still available!