Using Google NIK Collection in Photoshop to Edit a Sunset

Editing a Sunrise or Sunset Scene Part Four

Using Photoshop, Lightroom or Capture One Pro can be very daunting at first for anyone starting out in photography & editing images.  Luckily for anyone who feels too overwhelmed with all the features for two listed applications already mentioned (Photoshop & Lightroom) their is a plugin to use that can help to cut down editing time whilst at the same time gaining some basic understanding of what an editor can do to an image.
For this part, i will be using Google NIK Collection, a free plugin that was once owned by a different company when originally released.  Google bought the rights to the software which they then retailed until last year when it was decided that there would be no further development.  This does not mean that it is out of date, far from it.  It is still used today.  You can download it on Google’s NIK Collection Page.  Installation is done by clicking the file once download is complete.  Also for this part make sure you have Photoshop installed.  Once installed the plugin will automatically load up with Photoshop on startup.  You can still apply the same effects in Lightroom but it will be slightly different.

Below is an image i will be using for this part.  It has had two images, one dark, one bright, blended together using blendif in Photoshop.  Don’t worry too much about how to learn using it yet, it will be shown in a later post, or alternatively do a web search on the subject to find out more.

Image for editing using blendif in Photoshop. Note i have left this image in it’s natural RAW file state to emphasise how Google NIK Collection can make a big impact on an image.

Using Google NIK Collection

When Photoshop loads up, NIK Collection should also load up with a menu within the program.  It contains a menu with various programs to use for editing.

  • Dfine 2 – Helps to reduce noise & other related noise issues in an image.
  • Viveza 2 – Adds more punch, clarity & colour to an image.
  • HDR Efex Pro 2 – Used for HDR imagery (yuck).
  • Analog Exef Pro 2 – Converts an image into one similar to a classic camera or lens.
  • Color Efex Pro 4 – Adds various effects to an image.
  • Silver Efex Pro 2 – Converts an image to mono.
  • Sharpener Pro 3 – Sharpens an image.

I will be using Color Efex Pro 4 & Viveza 2 as the choice to edit this image.  Dfine 2 will be used to show what it can do.

Color Efex Pro 4

So now there is an image ready for editing, it’s time to open up Color Efex Pro 4.

To open Color Efex Pro 4, click on the tab in the menu of Google NIK Collection highlighted in red.

Once opened up, it will open up a separate editing area.  On the left are the various types of filters & effects with menus to suit what you are editing such as landscape, portrait etc.  Just below this are recipes & history.  Recipes are saved effects that you may want to use on another image.  History is just a history of what has been edited so far.  In the centre is an image that is to be edited, this will change as more effects are added.  To the right is the editing area with sliders similar to Camera Raw & effects that have been saved.

A view of Color Efex Pro 4.

Next thing to do now is to create a recipe for this image to give it some colour with an orton effect.

Creating Orton Effect

Orton effect may or may not be familiar with you.  It is basically creating a glow type effect, giving a dreamy look to an image.  Some people like it, others do not.  Apply this if you like it. This effect can also be created manually in Photoshop, another post i will create at a later date.

To create this, first we are going to go into the wedding category in the menu on the left, then select Glamour Glow.  This will then open up more options on the right.  I keep things pretty low for this one, i select the sliders to the following levels.

  • Glow 9%
  • Saturation 0%
  • Glow Warmth 0%
  • Highlights & Shadows to default.

This just creates the base for the orton effect.  Next is to save this.  Click the Add Filter button just below where you have been playing with the sliders.

Adding Glamour to create a base for orton effect. Changes & buttons have been highlighted in red.

Adding Soft Focus

Staying in the wedding menu, the next option to finish our orton effect is choosing Classical Soft Focus.  This will lose some focus but it can be gained back again later.  On the right there will be another slider option menu with a box.

  • Method – Two types of methods can be selected here with three options for each method.  I chose to use option three with soft focus as i felt this finish was best.  You can play round with this until you are happy with which option you want to use.
  • Diffused Detail – I left this at 0%, add this if you prefer.
  • Strength – The higher the percentage you go on this one, the more detail you lose.  I chose 20% as this gave me a nice finishing glow without losing too much detail.
  • Brightness – Affects brightness level.  I brought it down to -7% to compensate for brightness already created by strength.
  • Shadows – I can bring shadows up a little bit to show more detail, i raised this to 7%
  • Highlights – Brings down highlights.  I changed this to 53% to compensate brightness created in the sky.

Once happy & finished, click add filter again.  you should now have two effects saved.  This finish gives an orton effect without destroying an image too much & details are still retained.

Classical Soft Focus applied to finish off orton effect. I have not given it too much, just enough to apply a glow. Not great seeing it here but it is noticeable when editing in Photoshop.

Adding Colour

Next is adding more colour.  It already looks good but the colours can be brought out a little more if required.  Going into landscape effects, i am going to select skylight filter.  I will leave it to it’s default settings as it has produced a nice colour saturation to the clouds.  Remember to click add filter.

Adding a skylight filter has helped to saturate the colour around the clouds more.

Next i added Polarisation.  I left rotation to it’s default setting whilst strength was set to 85%.  Highlights & shadows were left to default.  Once happy i selected add filter.

Adding more strength in polarisation filter added more colour & some clarity to the clouds.

Lastly, i added Brilliance/Warmth effect to finalise that extra saturation.  I added about 8% saturation just for a little more colour then increased warmth to 25% to add a more sunset looking temperature.  Sliding this further left will result in a more bluish result.  Once happy, click add filter.

Adding Brilliance/Warmth filter helped to finish colours on this image.

Saving as a Recipe

Once you have finished with your image you can save everything you have done as a recipe to use on other images.  Simply click the save filter next to the add filter button and name it anything you like.


After selecting a few effects, this image now has more colour with a slight glow.  You could add a little more to this such as a graduated filter to darken the sky a little more.  There are so many options in this program that i recommend playing with all of them to get used to how each one can effect your image.  In the next part i will use Viveza 2 to add more clarity & even more colour.

Result after applying some filters in Color Efex Pro 4 using Google NIK Collection.


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