Product Review: Page (1) of 1 - 03/14/08 Email this story to a friend. email article Print this page (Article printing at page facebook

Nik Software's Viveza

Plug-in for Photoshop and Photoshop Elements By Robert Jensen

First introduced for Nikon in developing its Capture NX editing software Nik now offers to all users of Adobe Photoshop and compatible editors the power of their U-Point technology. What is special about U-Point technology? Imagine doing away almost completely with ever having to deal with intricate selecting of an object or masks.

With U-Point you just drop a point on the item you want to adjust and away you go. Say you want to make a blah looking sky bluer. Traditionally you'd have to select the sky, then painstakingly go in to mask out trees (selecting tiny areas where the sky shows through the branches and leaves gives new meaning to the word 'tedious'. All that time and effort in masking all so you can get a natural looking effect.

With Viveza its SO much easier! You drop a Control Point in the sky that should be blue, adjust the top slider to the area of the image you want effected and then go down the adjustment 'tree' of sliders to separately adjust your Light adjustments - Brightness, Contrast or Saturation.

TIP: The first thing I do is drop Control Points on the areas I want to adjust. Here I placed one in the sky, one one the green bush and one on the tile roof top. Click for full view.

At the bottom of the Control Point tree is a small triangle. Clicking on that extends the choices of controls, adding the color adjustments - Hue, Red (Red/Cyan), Green (Green/Magenta), Blue (Blue/Yellow) and the Warmth (Warm/Cool). You can also make these adjustments on the right side panel by entering the amount you wish.

Now jump over to the right side panel and you'll see you also have an Eye Dropper Tool. Use that to select a color in the photo. Say you used a polarizer filter on a wide angle lens, and as happens only part of the sky was effected by the filter and is a deeper blue with another part of the sky lighter. In Viveza just drop a Control Point on the washed out part of the sky, click on the deep blue part of the sky with the Eye Dropper and BAM! Instant match! Now if there is no blue sky visible in the image you can click on the Color Swatch and up will pop the traditional Windows (or Mac) color picker panel. Just click on the color you want, in this case a medium blue, and the sky will instantly turn that color, without effecting anything else in the image outside your selection area because of Viveza's automatic masking! You can also do special effects similar to using a graduated neutral density filter, or a graduated warming filter.

Rectangle in middle of image shows the original image. I lightened the sand and added some saturation to some other colors. Neutralized the color cast of the clouds and brought them out more with a contrast/brightness boost.

You can always go in and fine tune any Control Point adjustments you decide on with the other controls (like contrast and brightness) to help bring out clouds. Note: Clouds can be almost impossible to select accurately with any software, or even manually, because there are usually no defined edges. If that happens with your sky just drop another Control Point on what you decide should be white and the effects of the other Control Point are neutralized.

You can also choose the Rendering Method for the tool :

  • Basic - the quickest, meant for web pages and less detailed work
  • Normal - for a good balance between speed and detail protection
  • Advanced - for working with shadow detail and intracate detail. Also for good for the highest quality art prints

Note: My advice is to set it to Advanced and forget about it. The masking works MUCH better that way.

If at any time you don't like your results you can just hit the Reset key on the control panel, or right click the Control Point and choose Reset to go back to no adjustments. You can also Delete a Control Point.

At the bottom of the control panel is the Navigator Loupe with two modes:

  • Loupe Mode - when viewing your image at less than 100% view the loupe will give you a 100% view of what's under your cursor. The window is split vertically in two with a red line to show a Before/After view of your image. You can lock the loupe's position using the Pushpin icon.
  • Navigator Mode when already viewing at 100% or higher magnification the window will show you where you are in the bigger image using a box outlined in red. As with Photoshop's Navigator window you can drag this box around to move your image within the main window.

Tips: Just like in Photoshop and other programs holding down the Space key lets you drag a larger than screen sized image around.

Note: Any color fringing in the original photo might show up as a halo effect after using Viveza. I suggest you try to reduce any color fringing BEFORE using Viveza to minimize/eliminate the possibility of that happening.

Tip: If you lose the Viveza palette on the main Photoshop window you can toggle it on again by going to File/Automate/Nik Selective Tool.

Apply to your original layer, a new, separate layer, or as a brush where you can selectively apply your adjustments. You can still do a Blending Change to the new layer further changing any edits.

New layer can also be a Smart Filter in Photoshop CS3 or Photoshop CS3 Extended. This gives you further control using Photoshop's masks and other controls to make adjustments after the Viveza editing panel is closed and you're back in Photoshop - all non-destructively.

If you also own Nik Software's Dfine® 2.0 or Color Efex Pro 3.0 and they are already installed, the Viveza installer will update the existing Selective Tool, enabling you to access all of these plug-ins from the same Nik panel. It would be great if the Viveza/Selective Tool could be added to the regular Photoshop tool palette dock.

The Selective Tool can be used with pressure-sensitive tablets such as the Wacom® Pen Tablet to apply the Viveza filter with pressure-sensitivity.

Note: The Selective Tool is available only with Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Photoshop Elements serving as host for Viveza.

A before and after view in Viveza. Working on this photo took all of 30 seconds.

Seeing that I've been using Nikon's Capture NX for awhile now a lot of the little changes Nik Software made in Viveza proved frustrating at first.

Want list:

  • I missed having a White/Black/Neutral Control Points as are available in Nikon Capture NX. Nik, are you listening?
  • I also wish Nik would allow you to use the right click to add or delete a Control Point
  • One thing that annoyed me was when duplicating a Control Point the new one appears so close to the original you sometimes can't distinguish between them. That can cause you to inadvertently change the image by dragging the original point instead of the new one
  • You should be able to maximize/restore the Viveza editing window by double clicking on the header bar instead of having to drag it using the lower right corner tag
  • Retain Control Points and adjustments after closing/reopening Viveza
  • Add button to main screen where you can choose whether to add new layer or use current layer when closing Viveza window instead of opening Settings
  • Choose whether interface follows Nikon Capture NX theme/control layout or Lightroom style
  • Ability to choose larger font and buttons
  • Ability to Fade results as with other Photoshop Filters
  •  Edges can have a halo similar to an overly sharpened image. Being able to Fade or Soften the edge would be a plus
  •  Background Color Selector should be moved from the main screen to the Settings box
  • Single Show/Hide Control Points button on main screen

Final thoughts
Battle tested inside Nikon's Capture NX, Nik Software's Viveza adds what's proven to be a very powerful photo editing tool into Adobe Photoshop's arsenal. It takes a little while to understand how to use this new tool but once you do you'll love it. Viveza is available for PC or Mac OSX, $249.95
See for more information and download a 15 day trial version. You can view several nice video tutorials here .

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Robert Jensen has spent most of his 55 years in photography, from the age of 11 when he got his first camera (a Kodak Instamatic) to the present, shooting professionally. From 1971 to 1997 he worked in retail selling photographic equipment to people of all skill levels. For most of that period he was also a manager.
Related Keywords:image editing, digital photography, Viveza,

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