Color Efex Pro 4 – Making/Using Recipes

Filter Combinations & Recipes

Do’s and Do Not’s

One of CEP4’s most useful new features is the ability to use more than one filter at a time.

  1. Filters can be combined in a stack for one time usage
  2. These stacked filters can be saved as Recipes for reuse
  3. For details – Anatomy of a CEP4 Filter

With this new power comes a few potential problems –

1. Filters can have their order in the stacked changed

Just drag & drop to a new position

2. However, the order of adjustments is important

For example, making changes that affect color (say, saturation) without first ensuring that the images colors (white balance & color cast) are correct will almost certainly lead to problems

Bottom line – don’t arbitrarily change filter order

Illustrated examples of the pitfalls

3. Filters often depend on control points and opacity settings (filter opacity is another new CEP4 feature)

This is normally not a problem – UNLESS you save those CP’s in a recipe (read the aforementioned “anatomy” post to learn how)

Control points are 100% image dependent

Save a control point used to adjust a bride’s skin

Reuse the filter, with that CP saved in a recipe, but use it on the church

Not good – in fact probably a bad problem results

Saving Recipes
I strongly encourage you to save most recipes as what I call templates.

1. A recipe template contains the entire set of filters needed for a task

2. The filters are arranged in the order of intended use from top to bottom

3. All filters are deactivated at the start and are activated one at a time starting at the top

4. All filter control settings are set to some nominal default values

Ideally, the starting settings are equivalent to the filter being off

Here’s an example. CEP4 default on left; my recommendation on right.

5. If you open a recipe with all filters active & all controls set to who knows where (and worse with some CP’s saved as well)

You’ve got a mess on your hands.

Recipes are usually 100% image dependent

6. This may sound as if it adds work – having to adjust every filter in the template

Trust me it doesn’t

It’s a whole lot more work undoing & redoing presets – especially if you think about my earlier message about order being important.

Where do you start? And how do you know what may be causing problems.

Better to start at the top – with the remainder turned off so as to not interfere with your early adjustments

A sample recipe

1. Most images all need the same basic set of adjustments –

Color & tonal range adjustments

If the image was captured properly anything beyond this is “artistic”

2. I have a custom recipe designed to handle #1 above.

It is saved as a template and is shown here –

  1. It has five filters
  2. At the start up all are deactivated and the top (first to be adjusted) filter is open
  3. The control settings for each filter are set to a nominal/zero/off value
  4. No CP’s were saved with this recipe (or harmed in its creation ;-))
  5. Read this for walk through using this recipe to make this next image –

If you follow the above link to the walk-through, you’ll see that I’ve added another filter to this recipe – Pro Contrast in the 5th slot. The CEP4 tutorial discusses changing/updating already saved recipes.
A Recipe saved with all filters activated
Note that I did not say always save a recipe with each filter turned off and with null control setting values.

Here’s an example of another of my custom recipes –

It creates fancy image borders

I created it because it saves me a lot of time

All filters & settings are “on” because it’s most useful to be able to see a starting point.

Temporary Recipes
Creating a recipe for a one time repetitive task is very handy.
This is an example of temporarily saving a full-blown recipe – not a template

One time use (on 8 similar photos) and it’s no longer needed

Recently my wife was doing publicity for a play and had me shoot cast portraits.

She had a general idea of how the finished images should look

We sat down together & came up with a recipe

Past that point it was a snap – load the photo, apply the recipe, save…. repeat 8 times until done.

In CEP3 this would have been a real chore with multiple opening/closing of CEP – once for each filter used for a single photo (8×3=24)

To save some time in CEP3, I could have  saved each filter’s individual settings in the “Quick Save Slots” which are gone in CEP4 🙁 (rather than reenter them manually 24 times)

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