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Viveza 2: Perfecting Contrast and Color with Precision

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This article is the fourth of five that focuses on the focused on plugins for Photoshop, Lightroom and Aperture, from Nik Software and Alien Skin Software. Here, Photoshop expert Dan Moughamian, author of Adobe Digital Imaging How-Tos: 100 Essential Techniques for Photoshop CS5, Lightroom 3, and Camera Raw 6, examines how Viveza 2 is a great way –once you’ve wrapped up your raw edits- to apply localized tweaks to color and contrast, in a short amount of time.
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For this article, we’ll use Aperture 3 as the “launch pad” instead of Photoshop or Lightroom. It’s important to note the process for using Viveza in each of these environments is nearly identical. It’s the same application being called in all three workflows, so what works for one photo editing platform works for another.

When using Viveza 2 as part of your workflow, you should apply your raw edits first per usual, to optimize the dynamic range using the Histogram, as well as the global color and contrast. For this demo, I made minor adjustments to the White Balance, Exposure, and Enhance settings (Figure 1). Most of the controls are self-explanatory if you’ve used Lightroom or ACR before. The only Difference is that in Aperture, “Clarity” is called “Definition.”

Figure 1 Prior to opening the image in Viveza, here are the basic raw edits that were made to the image.

Making Global Adjustments

Once you’re ready to invoke the Viveza 2 plugin from Aperture, right-click (or Ctrl-click) the preview and choose Edit with Plug-in > Viveza 2, as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2 Viveza 2 is easily invoked from Aperture, as well as Lightroom and Photoshop.

While you can make global adjustments with Viveza 2, its real strength is the U-Point technology and a group of core tone and color adjustments, which help you to make localized edits throughout your photograph. For many shots, you may find that after applying a few basic raw edits, you can finish the shot off with Viveza 2. Figure 3 shows the various global controls and U-Point widgets.

Figure 3 The Viveza 2 user interface is similar in layout to other Nik plugins, except that it does not use presets.

Good examples of tasks that Viveza 2 excel at include but are not limited to balancing skies that are darker on one end of the horizon than the other, adding color reflections to water, modifying the color of isolated objects, and adding perceived sharpness or blur to isolated objects.

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