In the days of film you could rely on emulsions like Fuji Velvia and Kodachrome to exaggerate and intensify the colours of a sunset, but today’s digital cameras deliver a more accurate rendition… which can also be quite disappointing.

Color Efex Pro Bi-Color filter

This picture is a good example. Admittedly, the conditions weren’t ideal for sunsets – it was one of those days where the sun goes down without a whole lot of colour. A meteorologist might be able to explain why this happens – it’s probably to do with dust in the atmosphere and light scatter.

In any event, this shot needs a little jolt of colour, and the Bi-Color filter in Nik (now Google) Color Efex Pro is just the tool for the job. Here’s how it’s done:

01 Color Efex Pro 4 window

Color Efex Pro Bi-Color filter

Here’s the Color Efex Pro 4 window. The filters are displayed in the long vertical panel on the left and the adjustment tools for each one are on the right – they’re not visible at the moment because we haven’t selected a filter.

02 Bi-Color Filter options

Color Efex Pro Bi-Color filter

If you select Bi-Color Filter from the list on the left, the default filter colours are applied straight away. You can choose a different colour set by opening the drop-down menu on the right, but the first in the list gives a great result.

03 Bi-Color Filter adjustments

Color Efex Pro Bi-Color filter

All we need to do now is carry out a few minor adjustments. Increasing the Opacity makes the colours more intense, increasing the Blend value spreads the gradient transition over a wider area and reducing the Vertical Shift value moves the transition towards the top of the frame, where our horizon is.

04 The end result

Color Efex Pro Bi-Color filter

The colours in our final picture aren’t exactly natural (we know how they were achieved, after all), but they do make a striking picture, and they’re close enough to real life that most people would accept them as real.

See also

More Color Efex Pro tutorials