FIRST EXPOSURE BY STAN SHOLIK
ALIEN SKIN EXPOSURE X
Hands-on with this successor and free upgrade to Exposure 7.
Exposure X, available for both Mac
and Windows platforms, installs as
both a standalone program and a
plug-in for Adobe Photoshop and Adobe
Photoshop Lightroom, but its real power is
present in the standalone version, which is
the one I tested.
For new users, Exposure X is available
for $149. Users who purchased Exposure
editions earlier than 7 or users of other
Alien Skin software can upgrade to
Exposure X for $99.
Early versions of Exposure were
known for their library of preset effects,
ranging from bokeh to lo-fi (cross
processed), and its ability to customize
and save the result as a user preset for
later application. The customizable presets
are still present, but there were only a few
new ones added to the mix and they don’t
constitute the main thrust of the update.
What’s new is the further expansion of
Exposure from an effects-oriented software
to an image-browsing and editing program.
Version 7 introduced a simple file
browser function to the standalone version
of Exposure. This browser is greatly
expanded in the Exposure X standalone
edition with the ability to add flags, ratings
and color tags, the ability to sort using nine
different criteria, and the ability to add and
read basic image metadata. Also, in the
revised browser you can import images
directly from your camera card to your hard
drive. And since Exposure is a browser
and not a database, there is no waiting for
images to appear while they are imported
into a catalog and prepared for viewing.
The speed improvements in version 7 are
carried over into Exposure X.
Also new is the ability to edit RAW
format files from a wider range of cameras
than was the case in version 7 (but not yet
from medium-format backs), a revamped
user interface, a crop and rotate icon
rather than a panel, and a new brush tool
designed for portrait retouching with
dodge and burn controls, warmth and
cooling, skin smoothing, teeth whitening
New users will find the standalone
WHAT WE LIKED
Exposure X to be one of the easiest
programs to simply sit down with and
begin working. Experienced users will be
equally at home. They may have to look
twice to find any major differences, and if
they don’t like the arrangement of the new
interface, it’s easily customizable. If you
are only interested in the plug-in version
without the browser, Exposure X retains the
ability to preview the category of presets
you open as thumbnails in the preset panel,
and to quickly apply the preset to the
preview image in the main window as you
roll your mouse over the individual presets.
Clicking on the preset applies it to the
preview but may remove any other changes
you made in the adjustment panels.
Alien Skin has managed to combine
many of the best features of Adobe Bridge
with those of Lightroom in the standalone
Exposure X. From Bridge comes the ability
to import RAW, TIFF and JPEG files directly
from a camera card to your hard drive
and quickly begin tagging and rating
keepers. From Lightroom comes nondestructive image editing and the ability to
export images in a variety of formats with
customizable settings. Add to this the 15
categories of color look presets and the 12
categories of black-and-white presets with
each look highly customizable and you have
an extremely capable and useful program.
PICTURED: The Exposure X plug-in interface
does not include the standalone’s browser, but
rather concentrates on the effects presets.
PHOTOS © S TAN SHOLIK