As you probably know if you've read my blog with any regularity, I really like plugins. I use them with Lightroom and Photoshop and find they make editing photos a lot more fun. They allow you, in all honesty, to do a lot of the same things you can do in Photoshop, but you can do them MUCH easier and usually a lot faster with the right plugin. Now, I'm pretty capable of editing photos in both Lightroom and Photoshop, but I couldn't even begin to tell you how to simulate a light leak or duplicate the look of old Polaroid film in either of those programs. I'm sure there are plenty of people who can, but I'd much rather be out taking photos than learn how to do that stuff. That's where plugins come in, and specifically, Exposure 6 by Alien Skin. I have been using Exposure 5 for quite a while, but just recently upgraded to 6 and love it. Alien Skin Exposure 6 was announced a few months ago and so far is turning out to be really popular, intuitive, and a great investment for the cost. Today I thought I would share with you some of my favorite features from the version of the highly functional software.
I’ve often thought that retouching is an art, and if you want to do it right, you cannot take shortcuts. However, there are a few plugins that I think make editing faster, easier and provide exceptional results (you know I couldn't live without my Nik Silver Efx Pro for black and whites). Once I found Alien Skin Exposure, I found that I can work along side plugins to make my workflow quicker without taking a hit on the quality of work I’m trying to produce. No longer do I need to make complicated curves adjustments to my images when I’ve found that the same can be done using the sliders and presets within Alien Skin Exposure. Most importantly, I've found I can do all sorts of effects that I could never duplicate.
Perhaps the biggest upgrade from Exposure 5 to 6 is the speed of the software. It was a small issue, but when the software is designed to speed up your workflow process, it’s counter intuitive when it slows it down and Exposure 5 was pretty slow. They’ve since done an overhaul to the image processing engine, allowing you to quickly see previews far faster than before. Not only will this help with batch processing, but will also allow you to view different tones and film presets quickly and effectively, to help decide on your editing process and direction.
Included with Exposure 6 is a whole new set of tools to adjust Exposure, Contrast, Highlights, Shadows, Clarity, Vibrancy and Saturation right within the toolbar. This allows you to make simple adjustments within the software, rather than having to add layer masks and other tools before or after the fact. Paired with the new controls, is a nice new darker design that is easier on the eyes and gives a cleaner aesthetic to the software.
As I mentioned previously, I love the light leak feature and the ability to tone them down and adjust them as needed. Well they’ve decided to add even more light leaks, borders and textures to the release of Exposure 6, allowing you to customize your your images even further. While many may avoid these additions like the plague, claiming that light leaks are ugly, overdone and too artificial; I can contest that I’ve used them with a lot of success on many images in the past, and when done correctly…can really add an extra dimension to your photos.
Easily the most hyped update to Exposure 6 is the addition of the bokeh settings within the software. Essentially, you’re able to adjust your depth of field and add realistic bokeh to your images based off of the lens you were using at the time of the photo shoot. While this could result in artificial looking bokeh, if done correctly and used lightly, it can end up looking great
Again, if you’re looking for an Adobe Photoshop plugin that is truly worth it, you cannot go wrong with the Exposure plugin by Alien Skin. Exposure 6 brings new features to the already beloved Exposure 5, while speeding up the entire system in the process. I highly recommend the software to those who have not given it a try.
Exposure 6 is now available for $149, but can purchased as an upgrade from any of the previous versions of Exposure for only $69. If you can't make up your mind, there's even a free demo. Try it, I promise you'll like it and if you don't, I'll give you your money back, but just on the free trial. I'm that confident.