If you shoot a lot of portraits, check out Portrait Professional 10, an incredibly powerful tool for smoothing and perfecting complexions and refining facial features, quickly and easily. A step-by-step process walks you through the adjustments. Three versions are available: Standard, Studio and Studio 64. The Studio version adds RAW file support, 48-bit color and batch processing; Studio 64 also adds optimization for 64-bit operating systems and unlimited file sizes. List Price: $89 (Standard); $129 (Studio); $219 (Studio 64).
For professional workflow and photo editing on the Mac, it’s hard to beat Aperture 3, especially now that Apple has slashed the price if you buy it through the Mac App Store. In addition to all the tools you need to manage, process and present your photo library, Version 3 includes new retouching brushes for precise localized fixes and a number of adjustment presets to speed up routine enhancements. Also new is support for DSLR video files. You even can create multimedia slideshows that combine still images and your video clips, all within Aperture. List Price: $79.
iPhoto is part of the iLife suite of applications that comes preinstalled on every new Mac, but if you’re using an older version, you may want to upgrade to iPhoto ’11 to get new features like full-screen modes (excellent for laptops), tight integration with Facebook and enhanced sharing tools like HTML email templates, slideshows and improved book offerings. You now can buy each iLife app separately in the Mac App Store. List Price: $14.99.
Speaking of the Mac App Store, it’s a huge leap forward for Mac OS X. It’s like iTunes for Mac OS X apps, and though it just launched a few months ago, there are already hundreds of apps just for photography. Many of these apps are free or very inexpensive, and range from serious editing tools to photo novelties. One nice feature of the Mac App Store is that you never have to store a software CD or enter a license key—your purchases are instantly downloaded and can be reinstalled anytime or on any computer registered to you through the store interface.
For a range of creative focus and motion effects to enhance portraits, Mystical Focus provides a simple, easy-to-use interface as a s
tandalone application or as a Photoshop plug-in. Sixteen effects including Tilt-Shift Focus, Panning Focus and Specular Highlights can be combined to create dramatic results, and numerous preset combinations are there to get you going. Mystical Focus is available individually or as part of the Mystical Suite, which also includes Mystical Tint Tone and Color and Mystical Lighting. List Price: $149; $399 (suite).
DIGITAL LIGHT & COLOR
A very powerful editor at a great price, Picture Window Pro 5 offers a complete set of tools for pro photo editing, including lens-correction tools and HDR compositing, as well as RAW file support with highlight-recovery and noise-reduction tools. Picture Window Pro also offers organization and management capabilities for image browsing, and supports batch processing to automate routine tasks. Layout and photo album templates allow you to easily customize and output popular print sizes and projects. List Price: $89.
When you want to go to black-and-white from color, skip your photo processor’s converter—you’ll be much more pleased with the results using Silver Efex Pro 2. There are numerous presets to get you started, but the real power of Silver Efex is in the localized refinements you can make using Nik’s proprietary U Point control points, which allow you to selectively enhance some areas of the image without affecting others. Among the new features in version 2 is a Fine Structure control to enhance small details without an oversharpened look. Like most Nik products, Silver Efex Pro 2 is a plug-in compatible with the Photoshop family and Apple Aperture. List Price: $199.
Just released this fall, Color Efex Pro 4 is an impressive upgrade to an already powerful plug-in for creating exciting color enhancements. The most noteworthy improvement in version 4 is the ability to apply multiple effects to an image in one editing session and stacking them in layers (previous versions allowed you to apply only one effect at a time). You can save these effects stacks as Filter Recipes for repeat use. Eight new effects also were added to this new version. List Price: $199.