If you find yourself sometimes longing for the good old days of film, Alien Skin has just the solution. With Exposure 2, you can give your digital photography a nostalgic look. The plug-in reproduces the look of film emulsions like TRI-X, Velvia, Agfachrome and others that are no longer available, such as Agfa, Scala, GAF 500 and Kodak EES. But that’s not all. Among the 300-plus presets are darkroom effects such as push- and cross-processing, improved infrared simulation, advanced black-and-white conversion, glamour-portrait softening, color shifting and fading and more.
After applying a preset, advanced control panels give you the flexibility of fine-tuning sharpness, color saturation and intensity throughout the tonal range. To replicate the grain structure of film, the app models the size, shape and color based on those real film stocks. Grain size automatically adjusts to the image size so results look consistent at any resolution.
The workflow is nondestructive so when you apply an effect to the image, the original layer is duplicated and named after the setting used. Hiding or deleting the processed layer can easily undo effects. The Show Original button toggles the preview between filtered and unfiltered versions. List Price: $249 (new); $149 (upgrade).
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In the upper-left corner next to the Settings tab are advanced control panels for color, tone, focus and grain. The Color tab, for example, includes sliders for adjusting overall intensity, filter density, filter color and cooling/warming, as well as saturation controls for red, green and blue.
The Tone panel features a Curves graph that’s adjusted by simply adding points and dragging them. Below the graph are sliders that control contrast, shadows, brightness and highlights.
The Focus tab lets you adjust overall sharpness and includes sharpen radius, sharpen threshold, blur opacity and blur radius sliders. Sharpening and softening effects also can be found in the Settings panel presets. For example, there are five glamour-shot softening effects that use different degrees of softness and saturation, and two diffusion effects.
The Grain panel controls grain size, roughness and color variation. There are separate slider controls for shadow, midtone and highlight areas. After refining the grain, you can strengthen or weaken it with the Overall Grain Strength slider. Checking the Automatic Grain Size box keeps grain size proportional no matter how you resize the image. There also are two sliders for adjusting relative grain size and absolute grain size if you want to set it individually.
To make the program more user-friendly, the interface consists of a single window with a big preview area so that you can see the effect of your film choice and your changes easily and clearly. Next to the image is a tabbed panel containing sliders and other controls. Settings are organized into groups, the preview is zoomed out to fit the image to your screen, and the last setting used is highlighted.
The Settings tab shows a collection of presets. The list of film types is extensive and probably will be sufficient for both color and black-and-white purposes. Click on any of these choices and a preview is generated to show the cross-processing effect.
Above the preview area is a drop-down menu of split-screen previewing options. When enabled, this feature shows the original image in half of the preview. The entries in the split-screen menu specify the orientation of the split line, or you can simply turn it off. You can select from a total of eight before-and-after options.
To the left of the Preview button are navigation tools for moving around and zooming in and out. The hand enables the Move tool. Simply click and drag to navigate around the preview image. The magnifying glass controls zoom functionality. Double-clicking it resets the preview window to 100-percent magnification.
The plug-in is multithreaded to run faster on multiprocessor or multicore systems. It’s also a Universal Mac application, so it runs native and fast on Intel processors.