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The Best Sunset Photo Editing Techniques using the Nik Collection

August 6, 2019

today I’m looking at a common task for
landscape photographers which is enhancing a sunset photo I’m going to be
doing this using the Nik collection from DXO and the photo you see on screen now
I captured the image at the weekend but it’s lacking any real intensity in color
the weather at the time was mostly clear blue sky with a little bit of high cloud
unfortunately there was a lot of atmospheric haze about as well and the
sunset didn’t really happen as you can see the photo you see was converted from
the raw image using the free fuji version of capture one 12 I deliberately
avoided trying to enhance the colors in the raw processor when you’re editing
sunsets images it’s usually best to selectively enhance areas of the scene
you can do this in a raw editor but with the Fuji version of capture one it’s a
little bit more tricky that’s why I’m going to be using the Nik Collection
because it gives me a great deal of control using control points with this
image I want to warm up the pink in the sky and make it stand out more against
the blues I also want to enhance the color of the sky that’s reflected in the
lake and finally I want to increase the blue of the sky and also the blue in the
haze and that should also help the warm colors in the clouds stand out a bit
more the Nik collection has a lot of filters we can use to enhance images but
we’re going to concentrate on just three these are the same three filters that I
tend to use repeatedly when I’m editing sunset photos although I’m going to use
all three of the filters in this video to demonstrate you don’t need to it’s
often best just to use one or two of the filters let’s start by opening Nik Color
Efex Pro the first filter that I want to add to
the image is the skylight filter when you add the skylight filter it produces
a strong warming effect but it also has the side effect that it can cause blues
in the image to turn a little bit purple you can see this to some extent with
this image it’s also making the Greens of the grass look a little bit too
yellow the best way to control and prevent this is to apply the filter
using control points I’m going to start by adding a single control point in the
center of the image to select the clouds when I select the mask option to display
the control point you can see the areas that it’s selecting here the white areas
are where the filter is affecting the image but it’s hidden where you see the
dark areas I’m also going to add some negative control points to further
protect the dark areas and this is going to prevent the Blues in the sky from
turning purple I’m also going to add some to the ground to prevent the grass
turning yellow you can see the change in the image using the compare button one concern that I have from plying this
adjustment is that some of the lighter areas of intense color have become a
little bit too light these are in danger of clicking in the red color channel
when we apply further enhancements this can be a common problem when you’re
processing sunset photos if you make the color too intense I’m going to control
this before it becomes a problem by adding a levels and curves adjustment
filter I can now use the curve to reduce the brightness of the brightest areas
and this will help to reduce the chance of channel clipping I’m also going to
add a control points the shadows to prevent them from becoming too dark the
hazy feeling in the image is quite nice and I really want to protect that if the
shadows become too dark we’re going to lose that feeling the next sunset
enhancing filter that I want to tell you about is the brilliance and warmth
filter what I really like about this filter is
that you can use it to both warm and cool areas of the image it’s therefore
ideal for intensifying sunsets but also retaining a cool feeling in the shadows
let’s start by warming the clouds as before I’m going to start by selecting
an area to adjust with a control point I can then use the one slider to enhance
the colors in the sky I’m also going to add a small amount of perceptual
saturation this subtly saturates the colors in a much more natural way than
the regular saturation slider I’ll now add a second brilliance and warmth
filter this time I’m going to use it to enhance the blue areas of the image
which I’m going to select using a control point and I’m going to protect the area of the
lake using a negative control point and I’ll also similar protect the sky now I
can reduce the one thin these areas by moving a slider over to the left if the
blue becomes too intense which I think it has here I’ll just reduce the
saturation slider what this has done is highlighted blue in the sky in the haze
in a very natural way and by enhancing the Blues the colors in the sky stand
out even more you can see the improvement if I click the compare
button let’s now apply these filters and we’ll return to photoshop the last of the three filters that I
want to discuss is the Viveza this contains a Warmth adjustment which
produces excellent results when you’re editing sunsets as before I’m going to
add a control point to select the central clouds and then going to
increase the warmth in this area once I’ve done that I’m going to select the
surface of the lake and warm that also I’m now going to come down to the levels
and curve section here you can see that I don’t have any clipping you neither
the shadows on the highlights of the RGB channel I’m also going to check the
other channels particularly red and again I don’t have any clipping in
either of the shadows or highlights the green is also safe and the Blues also
safe so I’m happy that I’ve got a good tonal range without being a full tonal
range because that would ruin the contrast in the image I’m now going to
use the mid-tone levels to just darken the image a little bit more by moving
the slider to the right this as you can see has the effect of intensifying the
colors in the clouds even further this is a nice trick you can use to enhance
the colors of a sunset without needing to increase the saturation when you use
too much saturation you can easily cause the color channels to clip and start to
lose subtle shades I’m now happy without the sunset look so I’ll click OK to
apply the changes and just return to photoshop back in Photoshop I’m just
going to add the two layers I’ve created into a group this allows me to turn the
image adjustements off so you can see what we started with and here’s the
enhancement using the Nik collection if you feel the enhancements too strong you
can reduce the opacity of this group the filters we’ve discussed work well with
almost any sunset image you want to improve
it’s also worth experimenting with different images to understand how each
filter can affect the color and if you’re getting any unwanted side effects
I hope you found today’s video helpful if you have please take a moment to
share it with others I’d really appreciate it I’m Robin Whalley you’ve
been watching lenscraft I’ll see you next time for
another video


  • Reply Scott Weaver April 4, 2019 at 2:14 pm

    I thought the original RAW shot was quite lovely. We over process so many images.

  • Reply M Spates April 4, 2019 at 2:30 pm

    Is Nik software still available? And how do I go about getting it?

  • Reply Rosalie Bischof April 4, 2019 at 2:39 pm

    Can I do the same using Nix in Lightroom?

  • Reply Andy Pritchard April 4, 2019 at 8:06 pm

    Brilliant tutorial Robin, thank you for sharing this and the other works that you do.

  • Reply Old Grumpy Jim April 4, 2019 at 9:24 pm

    Thanks for this Robin it was a great catch up for me having used Nik in the past and recently started using it again buying it from dxo. I was using capture one for a while for my Xtrans rafs but went back to Lightroom and Iridient for dng conversion as the results were way better than C1 when printing out large (26X24ish) It was probably me and not C1 as I was having problems trying to put it into my stock workflow great for studio tethering but for handling large numbers of images I just found it difficult. Having Nik back and working well with photoshop is great.

  • Reply Nigel Snell April 5, 2019 at 8:27 am

    Oh you make it all look sooo easy. Love your work

  • Reply patrick lancien April 5, 2019 at 8:41 am

    Nice video, good explain and good rythm that i can follow, even in english, thanks!

  • Reply GarethBCallan April 6, 2019 at 4:16 pm

    So Robin , you're definitely going with C1-> TIF with your Fuji RAW conversion rather than using X-Tranformer->DNG, or indeed LR-> Enhance Details DNG?

  • Reply Andy Chattaway April 9, 2019 at 11:24 am

    Brilliant 👍

  • Reply R Garlin April 10, 2019 at 10:36 am

    Excellent end result, amazed at the transformation achieved! Thanks for the insights RW!👍

  • Reply Rob Coates April 17, 2019 at 12:24 am

    Excellent. Thank you. Rob from DownUnder.

  • Reply 王云飞 April 20, 2019 at 4:47 am

    nice tutorials! thanks!

  • Reply Melissa Hall June 30, 2019 at 7:42 pm

    Thank you

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