Thursday, February 28, 2008

Viva Viveza!

This morning Nik Software launched an amazing new plug-in for Adobe Photoshop called "Viveza." I use the word amazing because Viveza gives ordinary photographers like me absolute mastery over making color and light adjustments.

That's pretty fancy, but what does it mean in practical terms? Well... it means that ANY object or area of an image that I want to make brighter (or darker), more "contrasty", or more saturated, etc, I can do INSTANTLY. I'm not kidding. All I have to do is click on the object or area I want to enhance, and move simple sliders back and forth until the image looks the way I want it to. Cool!

Let's say I take a pretty cool shot of a lamp at Seaworld, but the sky is flat and the colors are just not popping for me. With Viveza, I literally just point at the sky, and move a Brightness slider down and boost the Blue slider. Colors need brightening? No problemo: if it's lighting, I just move the Brightness slider. If they need to be pumped up, just move the Saturation slider. In about 10 seconds, I'm done!

Viveza uses Nik's award-winning U Point technology which is also found in the Capture NX software from Nikon, but packages the U Point powered "Color Control Points" within an easy-to-use Photoshop plug-in. It essentially replaces a number of complex tools that Photoshop users and photographers have struggled with for years such as making selections, using adjustment layers, fiddling with Hue/Saturation, and the like.

When Photoshop Gurus like Scott Kelby call it "freakin' incredible" and Ben Long says it could be "one of the most important software announcements of the year", ya know you're on to something!

If you already own Nik's Color Efex Pro 3.0, you might be wondering: "How is Color Efex Pro different from Viveza?"

It's simple: With Viveza, you're adjusting color, light, tonality and the like using U Point powered Control Points. With CEP3 (as it's affectionately known), you're using Control Points to selectively apply a photographic filter effect. Basically, I'm saying that you need both - hey, gotta put food on the table, right? After you've optimized your image for exposure and color, turn to CEP3 to further enhance and stylize your image with filters. Simple!

We're obviously hoping that anyone who owns Photoshop and works with photos gravitates to Viveza as an ideal first step in their editing workflow: Open an image, crop it, use noise reduction like Nik's Dfine 2.0, use Viveza to enhance light or color selectively, and then maybe apply additional filters from Color Efex Pro 3.0 or continue to work as normal in Photoshop.

Trust me when I say that Viveza will save hours of editing time, and will pay for itself handsomely. I had the opportunity last weekend to demonstrate the Color Control Points in Capture NX to nearly 30 Photoshop users. TO A PERSON, they thought it was fast, easy-to-understand, and something they could see themselves using. And believe me, it was not just my great demo! ;-)

Click on over to the Viveza pages at to read more, check out some video lessons, and download a 15-day Trial version. I guarantee you'll soon have the best looking snapshots on the block!

Another kick-ass image improved with Dfine 2.0 and Viveza!

:: full disclosure: I work for Nik Software ::

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