Alien Skin’s Exposure 3; Is This The Ultimate Variations Plug-In? Page 2

The true added value of this program is the ability to create your own variations from the presets. There are numerous tabs across the menu top, each with quite a few sliders for variations on the offered version. Among the tabs are Color (including channels and colorization for monochrome); Tone (mainly contrast); Focus (sharpen or blur); Grain (in shadow, mid tone, and/or highlight); IR effects (including halation sliders); Age (mainly a fader or distorter for Holga fans or those who enjoy the magenta cast their Ektachromes may have gained); and even a slider for adding dust and scratches! Each attribute has a slider from zero to 100 percent opacity, and there are many sliders, so I guess there are maybe a million possible combinations, or thereabouts.

Because the work you do in Exposure 3 reads as a layer in Photoshop your initial changes can serve as a first step, or as part of a workflow at any point in which you are working on the image. Just go to Filters>Exposure 3 to create a new layer. Here’s the Layers palette of a black-and-white conversion (8). I called on Exposure 3 in the processing—once to create a T-MAX 100 “look” and once to add some grain. I finished all off with a Levels adjustment (9).

I used Exposure 3 as a plug-in for both Lightroom 3 and Photoshop CS5. In each case the numerous variations posed a dilemma—how to choose from the many offered and how to go through each one to see its effect. Fortunately, the program allows you to save the ones you use in a separate section, and even save recipes, if you will, of the variations you have created. I especially appreciated the fact that when you use the program in CS5 the new variation comes out as a layer, which you can alter even further using opacity, masks, and other effects, as well as pile on various New Adjustment Layers. Well, I guess that means a billion variations, doesn’t it?

(Left): Infrared fans will enjoy the many IR options in the black-and-white film module. This shot benefited from the halation glow effect, which I finished off by adding some grain and a quick Levels adjustment to pinch in contrast. (Right): Because you get a layer as a result of the change, you can play with opacity and layer masks as well. That makes for many other imaging options, such as here where I used an Exposure 3 black-and-white IR glow effect and then dropped the opacity on the layer to about 60 percent. Two steps and I was done.

In all, the program offers a myriad of foundation images that you can accept as is or play with to your heart’s content. Rather than create push-button, perhaps cookie-cutter effects, it can jump-start your creative play by offering the first step down the path. That’s how I approached it in my tests.

The charm of Exposure 3, and the real imaging power it offers, is in the ability to make as many changes as your imagination allows. The color image (10) was converted to black and white using the IR Fog option (11). I then used the Opacity slider on the Layers palette to bring back some color (12), then added a layer mask and painted back some of the color with a low opacity brush (13). Using the Exposure 3 options you can create numerous variations, and modify those variations to your heart’s desire..

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