Photography, Technical, Tutorials

The Efex of Color

Since I showed you Silver Efex by Nik Software last week, I thought today we could look at Color Efex Pro 4.  It is interesting software.  You can get some interesting effects from it, not always what you want, but that is going to be the same with any software you use.  I think this is similar to using Instagram with all its filters, but the main difference, and a big difference it is, is that you can change and make the filter work the way you want it to.  You have a lot more control over it.  That is something that I like a lot.

cep-1To use Color Efex, it is the same as Silver Efex, you have to open an image up in Photoshop, or the program that you have it as a plugin.  The website has information about what programs you can use.

cep-2To open it you go to Filters, Nik Software, then Color Efex Pro 4.

cep-3Here is what Color Efex looks like.  You can see a list of filters down the left side, over the on the right is a list of functions that you can do with the filter that is choosen.  The filter for this image has been circled in yellow.

cep-4I have changed the filter to Film Efex: Faded.  You can see on the right all the different things that you can change.   In the above image, nothing has been changed yet.

cep-5I have changed a few thing here, not much, but enough to make the image more to my liking.  I also changed the film type.  Again, like Silver Efex, when you have a drop down menu if you hover over the top you will see how each one changes the images.

If you play around with one filter and then decide you don’t like it, you can click on another one and it will change everything for that new filter.  What you did previously is erased, which also means if you go back to the original one, you will have to make all the changes and adjustments again.

cep-6There are also a heap of recipes that you can try out.  Or you can make your own and save them.  Again, just because someone has done one, doesn’t mean you can’t make some adjustments to it.

cep-7This is nice, it comes with a history, or rather you can see what you have done to the image as you went along.  That is a great feature.

cep-8When you are finished, you can just click OK and your image will be transformed in Photoshop.  You can also click Brush, and then in Photoshop you can brush the effect on the areas that want.  I haven’t really played with that very much.  Of course, if you don’t like it and don’t want it, you can simply press Cancel and go back to your original image.

I have a few images now, well the same image, but it has been processed with different filters in Color Efex.

CEP - Film Efex: FadedThis image was processed with the filter Film Efex: Faded.  I actually like this one.  It gives it a very retro feel.

CEP - Paper TonerThis was using the filter Paper Toner.  You can get different tones or different coloured tones.  Remember in the days of black and white printing and we all tried different toners to give our images a slight tinge in colour.  I can remember using Tea, Coffee and, my favourite, beetroot.

CEP - Indian SummerThis is Indian Summer.  I can see this one being used a lot.  I like it.  I wanted to try Monday Morning, but it just didn’t work with this image.

CEP - SolarisationHere is the Solarisation Filter.  Pretty cool effect and a bit of fun.  Not really sure what you would use it for, though I used to know a guy that painted images that looked similar to this, they were pretty amazing.

There are many filters and some recipes.  It is fun to play with and I have used some of the filters to great effect, you have seen some.  For me it is just as important to have as Silver Efex.  Next week we might look at another Nik Software product, Dfine.  It is apparently very good at reducing noise in your images.  That is something I need to look at, since my camera can produce quite a bit when I go up the ISO.

I know that Topaz have some similar products, but they haven’t been great with allowing me to have extra time to try the stuff out.  I downloaded all the software before Christmas, and of course didn’t have enough time to try them out, now the trial time has run out and I can’t try them.  Oh well.  Perhaps if they read this, they might let me have an extended trial period, then again, I am enjoying the Nik Software products.

For those interested, todays image of the Thistle was taken in the Kitchen Garden at Heide last Saturday.


  1. The Solarisation effect is very cool. I’ve seen that befor but this rendering with it looks much nicer. The software you are using here confuses me – very complicated. Watching the Australian Open right now and the last few nights, staying really hot in Melbourne!

    • It is actually easy to use John, you just keep trying stuff. I haven’t seen any of the Aus Open, I saw a big screen showing in the city the other day, but I don’t watch a lot of it. It is staying hot, we haven’t had any rain for so long, we desperately need it.

      • I hope brush fires don’t break out. We would very much like to visit Melbourne! What a beautiful city.

      • The state is on fire and no doubt the heat today will be making it worse, but it is about 4 hours away from Melbourne. So Melbourne will be safe.

  2. the Gunslinger Poet says

    i did not know about this program! thank you for sharing!

  3. Very nice coverage of the software. I have it and use it now and then. I enjoyed reading your approach to using it and looking at your examples. Thanks!

  4. Thank you for the tips and hints to change our photos, Leanne, I like special this kind of blossum …. sorry – I don’t know the english word for Distel!

  5. laurenjweaver says

    This is stunning! Love the composition and the color editing! Wonderful work!

  6. I haven’t tried the Color Efex yet, but the Silver is easy to use so I understood your directions here. The images are beautifully colored. Thanks for the tips on using the program!

      • I’m reading your tutorial on Color now. It’s great and explained a couple of things I didn’t know how to use. Keep doing this. If I miss the video tutorial, please hit me on the head. Thank you, Leanne. This is good!

      • The video didn’t really work out, well it did, but every time I uploaded it to the blog the quality was so bad, I don’t know what was happening. Glad you like the tutorial.

  7. I’ve been meaning to tell you that I did get a tripod for Christmas. It’s a small lightweight one for travel. I took it to New Zealand and used it a couple of times. It’s great.

  8. Amazing what a program can do – I think my pick will be the Indian summer … love the color in that … intense. Not a big fan of black and white for some reason – I know that most photographers say it’s the most interesting job, to play with light and shadows.

  9. At first I just loved your photos and adventures because they make me happy…. Now I can follow a bit more of the technical aspect because you present it so clearly! Thanks for your contribution to the world !!

  10. I love Silver EFEX, and am now just starting to use Color EFEX, thanks for the tips and info Leanne

  11. I agree, this is a great program. I particularly like the + and – one can apply, and of course, the great amount of control the sliders give. I am finding that I am even running some of my b&w images through this, for changes, or effects I can’t quite get in Silver Efex Pro.

  12. I always enjoy it when you explain a software…this is a bit over my head right now but I’ll store the idea and possibly come back to it some day…great colour effects…

  13. When I switched from Windows to Mac I lost all of my Nik filters. Since Google has bought them out I have had a heck of a time even finding a used older version. I really miss my Nik!!

  14. Leanne, I have both Color and Silver and enjoying them both. Your tutorials are helpful, thanks. Do you have any presets you’d care to share?

  15. Well done.Thanks for pointing out that there are many different ways to interpret an image. I love Nik Color Efex Pro4, although it did require quite a bit of time watching their online tutorials and experimenting.

  16. Beautiful enhancements of a very fine capture, Leanne…Nik has become extremely appealing (so I’m putting away $$$!), and apparently has no ‘bugs’–a very good thing! Also, I agree…that ‘Indian Summer’ filter would be MOST useful, and produces a very refined look!

    • I think I might use that one for some other stuff as well. I need to get into the habit of writing down what I use though, I tend to do stuff, then save it and when I go back, I have no idea what filter I used. It is all a learning curve I suppose.

      • Same here, so I HAVE begun writing steps down, though a bit haphazardly. I do so much burning and dodging and the list becomes cumbersome, so I stick to the important bits.

  17. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this and showing us a few of the things it can do!

  18. eric0704 says

    Indian summer is definitely my favorite. great pics as usual!

  19. petit4chocolatier says

    Your photos are incredible. I do love the Indian Summer :)

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