you shooting digital now, but sometimes long for the gritty look of pushed Tri-X,
or the impressionistic color characteristics of a faded Polaroid? To add the
organic look of specific film types to your photos, or transform them with a
wide range of processing and darkroom effects, try one of the 300 presets available
in the second generation of Alien Skin's Photoshop plug-in, Exposure 2.
Furthermore, you can fine-tune each to your taste and save it to your own personal
Developed from a scientific analysis of current and discontinued color and black
and white print and slide stocks, Exposure 2 offers presets that emulate the
warmth, softness, and realistic grain structures of film, ranging from the vivid
colors of Fuji Velvia, the natural skin tones of Kodak Portra, to the muted
retro hues of a faded Polaroid, and even the ethereal glow of infrared. To give
you an idea of the depth of choices, the black and white infrared category alone
has 20 different preset options simulating films from Kodak, Konica, and Ilford.
For grain effects, Exposure 2 goes beyond just adding digital noise. Its grain
simulation models the size, shape, and color of real-world grain, including
the feel of Kodak Tri-X and the large, soft grain of discontinued GAF 500. Grain
size can be automatically adjusted to the image size, so grain looks realistically
proportional on high- and low-resolution photos. Furthermore, you can alter
grain shape via a roughness control.
To combat flat, lifeless black and white conversions, Exposure 2 offers many
presets as well as a channel mixer RGB sliders interface to provide subtle control
over the color to black and white conversion process. Once you've made
the conversion, there are a wealth of color toning, contrast, and grain variations
Beyond the ability to reproduce the look and feel of film, Exposure 2 offers
darkroom effects such as push- and cross-processing, glamour portrait softening
and warming. After applying a preset, you can fine-tune color saturation, tone,
sharpness, and grain with advanced control panels.
Fast, Nondestructive Workflow
Need to process batches of images? The plug-in is compatible with Photoshop
Actions. Furthermore, Exposure 2 enables a nondestructive workflow where you
can return to an image months later and change it. How? All settings are deployed
in a new Photoshop layer named after the setting used, or the effects can be
applied as Photoshop CS3 Smart Filters. Previews are automatically scaled to
fit the current window size, and the plug-in is multithreaded to run faster
on multiprocessors or multi-core processors. With Exposure 2 you can work in
16 bit, allowing raw images to be manipulated at their highest quality.
All Photos © 2007, Howard Millard, All Rights Reserved
To take Exposure 2 for a test drive, I opened one of my water lily photos, #1,
in Photoshop CS3. Next, I chose Filter>Alien Skin Exposure 2>Color Film.
This brought up the dialog box shown in #2. At the top left of the dialog, I
clicked on the arrow to the left of the folder labeled "Cross Processing,"
which then displayed a list of film choices. Next, I clicked on the folder labeled
"Agfa Optima" and, in the large window to the right, the preview
quickly showed the cross-processing effect, with funky blue and cyan tones in
the water accented with greenish yellows on the lily pad. Once the preview is
drawn, you can compare the before and after looks by pressing the space bar,
or you can select from eight split screen before and after options in the drop-down
Preview Split menu at the top of the preview window.
I tried a few other choices by clicking on their folder icons and checking
the previews, but decided that for this shot I preferred the Cross Processed
Agfa Optima. To apply the filter to the full image (not just the preview), I
clicked the OK button at the top right. On this 8MB file, it took my 1.8MHz
dual-processor Power Mac about 10 seconds to apply. A 15MB file took about 30
seconds. The result is #3. Exposure 2 thoughtfully places the filter effect
on its own layer in Photoshop, above your original photo in the background layer,
Next, I wanted to try some black and white effects. I opened a copy of the
same original and chose Filter>Alien Skin Exposure 2>Black and White Film.
From the factory presets at the upper left, I selected Infrared, and within
that Fog-Bright. This has higher contrast and less detail than some of the other
infrared settings, but the effect should be clearly visible in magazine reproduction,
#5. It took only about 6 seconds to render this dramatic and eerie effect.
From my early darkroom days, I have always favored toning some black and white
prints in order to achieve subtle color effects as well as for greater archival
stability. Although in Exposure 2, toning is found under the black and white
category, you must start with a color original (normal RGB) in order to apply
monochrome and dual color toning. The 13 preset options encompass sepia, cyan,
gold split, selenium, and blue, and bring to mind many hours spent in the darkroom
with malodorous fumes. Here, I chose Filter>Alien Skin Exposure 2>Black
and White Film, then Color Toning, then Selenium -- warm/cool. After clicking
OK, the toning was performed digitally in less than 3 seconds. The selenium
digital print, #6, shows a good range of tones, fine detail, and to my eye,
a very pleasing color. In the lily pad, tonal separation is good, and delicate
shading is visible in the blossom.