Color Efex Pro 4 (part of the DxO Nik Collection) doesn’t just apply individual filters – you can also combine, or ‘stack’ filters to create a cumulative effect. I’ve used it here to add a warm, dreamy glow to this minimalist landscape in order to show how this stacking system works.
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The start shot is pretty uninspiring, but with the right mix of filters it should be possible to turn it into something much more interesting.
01 Adding extra filters
I’ve started out by adding a Graduated Filter effect to create a blue sky. The precise settings aren’t important – that can wait for another time – but the key thing here is the ‘Add Filter’ button underneath the filter settings on the right-hand side. You need to click this and then choose another filter from the list on the left. Here, I’ve gone for the Brilliance/Warmth filter.
02 Brilliance/Warmth filter
This applies a warming (or a cooling) effect to the image that’s a lot subtler than simply messing around with white balance (or with Photo Filters in Photoshop). It’s given this landscape a rich, late-afternoon look and it’s also highlighted a touch of violet in the sky near the horizon which must have been introduced by the Graduated Filter effect. The way different filters interact is one of interesting facets of Color Efex Pro 4’s filter ‘stacking’. Note that the new filter’s tools are now displayed in the panel on the right, and the previous filter (circled) has been collapsed to its title bar. You can still make changes, though, by clicking on any title bar to expand that filter’s tools (and collapse the rest).
03 Glamour Glow filter
I decided this landscape needed a softening effect, so I clicked the Add Filter button again and added the Glamour Glow filter. By the way, you don’t have to pick a different filter each time. You can, if you like, use the same filter again to intensify or modify the effect.
04 Polaroid Transfer filter
This is intended to simulate the effect you get from transferring the emulsion from a Polariod print to another medium. Here, I’ve used it to enhance the saturation and the glow (Smear) effect.
05 Darken/Lighten Center filter
I’ve finished off with a vignette effect, though I’ve used Color Efex Pro 4’s Darken/Lighten Center filter instead of its Vignette tools because it’s a bit softer. It focuses attention on the centre of the frame without making the edges too dark.
06 The finished picture
This dreamy, minimalist landscape is a long way from the original picture, and it shows how effective Color Efex Pro 4’s filters can be when they’re used in combination. One of the great things about this software is that it can lead you in unexpected directions and give your images ‘looks’ that you hadn’t planned or might not have thought of – it can be a real voyage of discovery!