Viveza 2 is part of the Google Nik Collection, but it’s often overlooked because it meets a fairly narrow need. It’s designed as a kind of colour ‘dodging and burning’ tool, where you use Nik Software’s clever control points to both mask and adjust specific areas of the photograph at the same time.

These control points turn up everywhere in Nik Software, from Silver Efex Pro to Color Efex Pro, HDR Efex Pro and even Snapseed, as ways of fine-tuning and enhancing your effects. You can use them with Colour Efex Pro 4’s Levels and Curves filter, for example, to apply localised brightness and contrast adjustments in a similar way.

So is Viveza 2 redundant? I don’t think so! I have spent some time with it, and I think the secret is using multiple control points, not just one. On their own, these control points don’t necessarily appear much more useful than an adjustment layer in Elements, say, and the automatic masking is not always that effective. But it’s when you use them in combination that they really start to shine.

To show how this can work, I’m starting with this relatively plain shot of a vase of tulips. Technically, it’s all right, but the lighting is rather too flat and it doesn’t have the vibrance and ‘sparkle’ I was looking for.

Viveza control points

So bear with me as I set to work with Viveza 2. There are quite a few steps, but they’re all very straightforward, and they show how the effect can be built up. Viveza 2 doesn’t demand any great technical knowledge; instead, it relies on the photographer’s ability to see just what will make a photograph work. It’s nice to be able to use a creative tool rather than a technical one!

01 Add a control point

Viveza control points

I want to start by brightening up these tulips and bringing out their detail, so I’ll click the Control Point button in the tools panel on the right (circled in red), then click in the middle of one of the tulip heads.

The control point has four sliders: Brightness, Contrast, Saturation and Structure. You can reveal more by clicking on the arrow at the bottom of the list, but I’m not going to use them. If you click and hold on the control point, a larger circle indicates its approximate range. This is only approximate because of the self-masking nature of the tool. You can adjust the size of the area with the top slider, but don’t bother trying to get the effect area right first time – the more control points you add, the more selective the adjustments become anyway.

02 Increasing the structure

Viveza control points

The Structure tool is Nik Software’s secret weapon. It increases contrast on a localised basis, but with a much finer effect than most localised contrast tools. If I push the Structure slider up to maximum, the textures and shading in the tulip really start to leap out.

When you’re adjusting a slider, the others are hidden, but when you release the mouse button they’re visible again. I finished this adjustment by pushing the Brightness slider a little to the right.