Alien Skin Exposure 5
By Stan Sholik
photographer lives in
Santa Ana, California, and
specializes in still-life and
Whether a professional or an advanced amateur photographer, it is essential to make your work stand out. This
means developing a style and applying it consistently to your images so that your work becomes
recognizable as your own.
Some photographers develop a style based
on lighting or photographic technique, but increasingly a photographer’s style is the result of
post-production image processing. There is no
shortage of software tools available for this, but
few of them offer the range of options coupled
with the new intuitive interface found in Alien
Skin Exposure 5.
I last visited Alien Skin Exposure when it
was in version 2. At that time, the range of options were comparable to other offerings, but
the interface was behind the times. That has all
changed in version 5. Not only are the available
options more extensive than other programs,
the interface is now up-to-date in the imaging
programs in which it is included as a plug-in.
These host programs include Photoshop CS5 or
newer (including Photoshop CC), Lightroom 4
or newer, Photoshop Elements 4 or newer, and
now Apple Aperture 3 or newer. If any or all
of these programs are installed on a computer
before you install Exposure 5, the appropriate
software plug-in installs. Exposure 5 also installs
as a stand-alone program whether or not it also
installs as a plug-in.
The new Exposure 5 interface is similar to
Lightroom but even more similar to the Nik Collection by Google plug-ins. A preset browser that
displays visual thumbnails displayed on the active
image is on the left of the screen. The center of
the screen displays a preview of the image with
the effect and adjustments applied with user-selectable backgrounds ranging from light gray
to black. To the right of the screen is a pane of
collapsible panels with the adjustment options. If
you open multiple images in Exposure 5, an additional pane opens at the bottom of the Exposure
5 window with thumbnails of the images.
The left and right panes close by clicking the
disclosure arrows, and the same is true for the
collapsible panels in the right panel. I do wish
Alien Skin had taken the Lightroom paradigm
one step further and made a keystroke option
(the F key) for full screen view, and auto options
for the preset categories on the left and panels on
the right so that when you open one, the previ-
ously open one closes. This automation would
speed your workflow and minimize mouse clicks.
The preset pane does have an icon that closes all
presets when clicked.