Editing With Google's Color Efex Pro
Editing Made Simple
If you are like me, you like quick, efficient post processing. Of course, some pictures will take longer than others, but I have been using one program to enhance my photos for almost five years now. In fact I use a number of different software from the Nik Collection. Google bought out this company some time back and now the programs are being offered for free. I can't believe something so powerful is now being offered for free.
In this post, I'll go over some of the features of Color Efex Pro, which in my opinion is the best free post processing tool for any landscape photographer. There are several other tutorials you can find online outlining some of the tools you can find in Color Efex. These are my top used adjustments.
One of my favorite tools in CEP (Color Efex Pro) is the detail extraction tool. This tool is simply amazing for bumping out lost detail in your photos. This tool is especially important for landscape photographers simply for the fact that you can squeeze out every last detail in your image without damaging quality. Here's an example below:
Now for obvious reasons the after image would probably need other adjustments and masks. But for the purpose of demonstration, you can see how much of detail is returned in the grass, mountains and clouds. Paired with some masks, the detail extraction tool is in the top 3 of most useful tools in CEP.
Contrast Color Range
Have you ever edited an image and after all the time you've spent on it, come to the conclusion that it is as flat as that opened coke can you left over night? I've often found that even after all the color tweaks, images can still benefit from a little bump in contrast. Here's an example of what this tool can do for you:
So what's the difference between contrast color range and regular contrast? Contrast color range in CEP contrasts a specific color value. This really is a fine tuning tool something you want to use to really hone in on those colors to make them pop.
Another tool I love using that doesn't seem all that popular to other users is the Cross Balance tool. It's basically like putting a filter on your lens. If you've ever heard of Daylight to Tungsten filters, these can instantly transform the mood, warmth, coolness of your image by manipulating the light color. Here's an example:
I often use these filters when dealing with images shot either in the golden hour or the blue hour. With proper masks and tweaks, adding these filters can really enhance the light that might otherwise not be noticed. The images above are an extreme example, but you get the point.
Not getting enough greens in your images? This is another one of my favorite filters. It can be rather frustrating at times playing with the saturation sliders to get greens just the way you want. However this filter makes life a lot easier. I've noticed over the years of using this filter, it doesn't just affect a small portion of the greens in the image, but it affects a nice ranger of green tones. It does a really good job at detecting those possible green tones and enhancing them. Here's an example:
I've bumped up the intensity a little in order for you to see the effects of the filter. You can also use a more orange color if you're editing fall colors.
These are just some of the filters available in CEP. With a plethora of filters and possible recipe combinations, CEP is hands down the best free editing software plug-in for Photoshop. I encourage you to try it out and to see what kind of images you can turn out.
I hope this little post about CEP has helped you or given you ideas for your post processing needs. If you found this information helpful, please feel free to subscribe for more content or leave me a comment down below. As always, be safe on your next adventure and have a great time experimenting with CEP!