Though still free, as of July 2017 Google will no longer be supporting this excellent Lightroom and Photoshop Plugin.
It might be that the plugin will withstand many upgrades by Adobe – who knows?
I find the best image for using Color Efex Pro, is a flat looking image, that Lightroom doesn’t really improve. Some Landscape Photographers will use Color Efex Pro for every image though, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
The workflow is this, assuming you use Lightroom, not Bridge:
- Reset the image in Lightroom (Shift/Control or Command + R)
- Make sure you Lens Profile is set up properly. For example, the box is ticked, and your lens is showing – if supported.
- Take the Image into Photoshop (Control or Command + E).
- Add a Curves Adjustment Layer.
- Keeping the Alt, or Option key pressed, click on Auto in the Curves Panel.
- Go through the Four Algorithms to find which one you like.
- Merge down the image (Layer/Merge Down), or (Control/Command + E). Optional: Turn the layer into a Smart Object: Layer/Smart Objects/Convert to Smart Object, so you have a non-destructive Smart Filter when you run Color Efex Pro.
- Go to Filter/Nik Collection/Color Efex Pro 4.
- Choose Landscape to see the list of Filters.
- Add Brilliance/Warmth. Edit the image, then click the Add Filter Button.
- Add Tonal Contrast. Edit the image, then click the Add Filter Button.
- Add Pro Contrast. Edit the image.
- If you like what you’ve done, save it as a Recipe.
- Click Save, to return to Photoshop.
- Save again in Photoshop, to see the image in Lightroom.
YouTube Video using Color Efex Pro for Landscapes
The process from Photoshop onwards is:
Add a Curves Adjustment Layer. Press and keep pressed the Alt (Mac), Option (PC) and click on Auto. When the Auto Color Corrections Options panel comes up, release the Alt/Opt key. Choose an Algorithm.
Merge the two layers by going: Layer/Merge Down (Ctrl or Cmd + E) or, Layer Merge Visible (Shift/Ctrl or Cmd +E). Or even Flatten Image. A good practice is to Duplicate the Layer by going (Ctrl or Cmd + J)
Optional: Turn the layer into a Smart Object: Layer/Smart Objects/Convert to Smart Object, so you have a non-destructive Smart Filter when you run Color Efex Pro.
Load and Run Color Efex Pro 4
Go to Filter/Nik Collection/Color Efex Pro 4
Make sure you are in the Landscape Filters view. If you can’t see the Filters make sure you tick the Panel Menu icon – indicated by the yellow arrow in this image
Adding the Filters:
Some filters show you default presets in the panel itself. But every filter has a set of presets next to the name of the filter, indicated by a stacked image symbol.
You’ll be presented with presets. They could be a good starting point.
Don’t forget the Compare button in the top left of the preview area will show you a Before, and After.
Add the filters in the following order. And, don’t forget always Add Filter, to stack the filters, otherwise, you will lose your filter.
It does what it says, really
My settings are of course image dependent, but this gives a subtle effect. If you are getting a colour cast in the Sky, lower the Warmth, and raise the Saturation
Look upon this as the supercharged Clarity slider in Lightroom. Except, you have more Control.
The final filter. I find the only slider to move is the Dynamic Slider.
I recommend you save your filters as a Recipe because it will always be a good starting point.
Once you save and then save again in Photoshop, the image will be sent back to Lightroom, as a TIFF, (normally).
Maybe a Graduated filter might be called for, and that’s it………….