Viveza 2

Viveza is a bit of an odd plug-in in that it offers no preset effects at all – it’s simply a vehicle for a more detailed version of the suite’s control point technology. The best way to think of it is as the colour equivalent of the dodging and burning tools you might use in black and white.

The control points are more sophisticated, however. With each one you can adjust Brightness, Contrast, Saturation, Structure, Shadow Adjustment, Warmth, Red, Green and Blue and Hue. You can duplicated control points and their settings and group control points so that they act as one – it’s a way of adjusting large and complex areas quickly.

That brief description describes pretty much everything Viveza does. Outside of these control points, the only control is a global levels/curve adjustment.

But Viveza’s strength only emerges gradually. You can add a single control point, make a couple of adjustments and wonder what all the fuss is about. But if you take a little more trouble, create groups of adjustments and start experimenting with ‘relighting’ your photos, you start to understand what Viveza can do.

Arguably, there’s nothing here that you couldn’t do with layers and masks in Photoshop, but Viveza encourages you to visualise and build your adjustments in a different way. When I’ve used it I’ve found myself creating effects that I wouldn’t have thought of producing in Photoshop, purely because the control point adjustment method has led me to approach the process in a different way.

And while, individually, control points can look like a somewhat crude and imprecise way of selecting and adjusting areas of a picture, when they’re used together and, in particular, when you use two ‘competing’ control points close together, they do actually produce very precise and natural-looking tonal transitions around object edges.

For those used to the precise, controlled world of selections and masks, these control points will feel vague and unsatisfactory, but if you stick with it and you’re prepared to work in a looser, more intuitive way, you may start to see the benefits.

Having said all of that, Viveza is not one of the strongest components of the Google Nik Collection. Its enhancements are subtle rather than dramatic and it takes a lot more work than the single-click results offered by Analog Efex Pro, HDR Efex Pro, Color Efex Pro and Silver Efex Pro.

It’s worth having, certainly, but it’s a tool you’re probably not going to use that often.