Beyond The Presets
While 300 presets give you a mind-boggling array of options, there's more.
Let's say that you are rather pleased with the results of one of the presets,
but you'd like to tweak it a bit. Head for the upper left of the main
dialog box to choose advanced control panels for Color, Tone, Focus, and Grain.
The Color panel, #7, for example, features sliders for you to adjust the overall
intensity of the effect, filter density, filter color, cooling/warming, a preserve
luminosity check box, and saturation controls for master, red, green, and blue.
If you are wondering exactly what each slider does, just mouse over one and
a description of its function appears across the bottom of the panel.
In the Tone panel, #8, you'll find a familiar-looking Curves graph.
You can adjust it by adding points and dragging them, or you can use the sliders
below for contrast, shadow, midtone (brightness), and highlight. There are black,
gray, and white eyedroppers, as well as save, load, and reset buttons.
Next up is the Focus control panel, #9. Here you'll find sliders for
sharpen amount, sharpen radius, sharpen threshold, blur opacity, blur radius,
and a check box for sharpen brightness only. If you want to try a simpler solution
first, there are a nice choice of sharpening and softening effects in the Settings
panel presets, under Focus. Among these are: three choices each for sharpen
low radius and sharpen moderate radius. If it's softness you want, you
can select among five glamour shot softening effects with different degrees
of softness and saturation, and two diffusion effects.
Lastly, the Grain panel, #10, offers sliders for overall grain strength, and
individual controls for grain in the shadow, midtone, and highlight regions.
Additional sliders let you vary grain roughness, color variation, and push-processing
effects. If you check the box labeled automatic grain size, Exposure 2 will
keep the grain proportional, no matter how you re-size the image. A
drop-down menu offers the choice of three formats: 35mm, 120, and 4x5. Below
this, two sliders adjust relative grain size (for the auto grain size feature)
and absolute grain size if you want to set it individually.
Going For Glamour And Grain
To test the Focus effects presets, I chose a sharp photo of a mannequin, #11.
(What could have more perfect skin?) In CS3, I chose Filter>Alien Skin Exposure
2>Color Film. Under the Focus folder, I tried the five different glamour
shot presets and finally settled on "glamour shot-strong" since
this would be most visible in magazine reproduction, #12. This preset adds strong
soft focus as well as significant warming and increased color saturation. The
other glamour settings offer low and moderate soft focus as well as the option
of high or low color saturation.
Finally, I wanted to try some of the grain effects. To show them best, I chose
a detail of the mannequin's face, #13. Next I chose Filter>Alien Skin
Exposure 2>Color Film, Grain only, Fat grain. Again, I'm choosing extreme
settings to make the effects most visible on this page. Since the preset looked
a little weak, I decided to fine-tune a bit in the Grain panel, #14. I unchecked
"automatic grain size" and used the "absolute grain size"
slider to make it larger. Further, I boosted the roughness and highlight sliders
to make the grain visible in the highlights, as seen in the final image, #15.
On screen, the grain looks realistic and pronounced, creating the impressionistic
look I was after.
Software And System Requirements
Adobe Photoshop CS2 or later, Elements 4.0 or later, Paint Shop Pro XI (Windows
only), and Fireworks CS3 (except Live Effects are not supported).
Windows users--Pentium 4 processor or compatible and Windows XP or later.
Exposure 2 is a Universal Macintosh application. Mac users--PowerPC or
Intel processor and Mac OS X 10.4 or later.
Exposure 2 sells for $249, with an upgrade price of $149 for registered users
of Exposure 1.
For more information, contact Alien Skin Software, LLC, 1111 Haynes St., Ste.
113, Raleigh, NC 27604; (888)
921-7546, (919) 832-4124; www.alienskin.com.
Howard Millard will be leading workshops this year in the U.S.A. and Italy.
In Maryland, Digital Photo Art: April 11th-13th; Photoshop Tools and Techniques:
July 11th-13th. In New York City, Gardens of New York: May 31st-June 1st; Travel--Capturing
the Spirit of Manhattan: June 7th-8th; through Horizon Workshops (www.horizonworkshops.com,
(410) 885-2433). For a week-long photo and culinary adventure in Tuscany, Travel
Photography in the Digital Age: May 10th-17th; through Il Chiostro (www.ilchiostro.com,