Viveza 2 is part of the Google Nik Collection, and I think it’s in danger of being overlooked in favour of the newer, flashier or more versatile plug-ins in the collection.

Viveza 2 is designed to offer localised adjustments for your digital image using the ‘control point’ technology now found throughout the Google Nik Collection. Viveza 2 control points combine adjustments and masks all in one. You place a control point where you want to make an adjustment, and the tones under the control point are then used to define the ‘mask’ used to limit the adjustments to that particular area.

In practice, these control points are a little less precisely defined than regular selections in a program like Photoshop, but that’s actually no bad thing, because they blend in with the surrounding areas more subtly, and you can use them in combination to achieve some elaborate and complex image adjustments.

Viveza 2 really only does one thing, using the same control points found throughout the Google Nik Collection, and this is why it’s easily overlooked in favour of the powerful image effects in Color Efex Pro, HDR Efex Pro or in the latest addition, Analog Efex Pro.

Often, though, you don’t want to apply any fancy effects to your photographs, you just want to make them the best they can be, and this is where I think Viveza 2 excels. Its strength is its simplicity, and its power lies in the way you can use what look like simple tools in clever and subtle ways to achieve great results.

Viveza 2 control points

I’m going to use it on this picture I took at Glastonbury Abbey in Somerset. The sky and the silhouettes of the ruins were working beautifully, but there isn’t enough detail in the shadows in the original shot. To the naked eye, the stones were bathed in a warm, reflected light, but the camera’s just picked up the strong contrast and left them in deep shadow.

Incidentally, I took this with what I think is one of the most extraordinary lenses on the market – the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 full-frame super-wideangle. I just wish I could afford one!

01 Add a control point

Viveza 2 control points

If you want to see how your edited image is looking compared to the original, use Viveza 2’s side-by-side view. Here, I’ve clicked the control point button (circled) in the tools panel on the right and then clicked in a shadowed area in one of the arches.

These control points display a set of drop-down sliders for adjusting the appearance of the adjusted area. I’ve started off by increasing the Brightness slider, and you can see how it’s affected only this area of the arch, but it’s had little or no impact on the sky areas alongside.

02 Adjusting the contrast

Viveza 2 control points

A brightness adjustment on its own isn’t always enough. Sometimes you need to make other adjustments to make the adjusted area look more realistic. The brightness adjustment left this area looking a little flat, so I’ve increased the Contrast value.

03 Structure

Viveza 2 control points

The Structure slider does something different. It increases the localised contrast around the details in the image to make them stand out more clearly, and it’s the secret weapon across the whole of the Google Nik Collection – it helps make this adjusted area look ‘punchier’ and more natural.