Alien Skin’s Exposure 2; Add The Look Of Traditional Film And Special Darkroom Effects Page 2

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.

#7

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.

#8

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.

#9

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.

#10

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.

#11
#12

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.

#13
#14

#15

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, (800) 990-3506).

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