Exposure 4 plugin recaptures essence of film


posted Tuesday, February 14, 2012 at 5:09 PM EST

Alien Skin Software's logo. Click here to visit the Alien Skin Software website!There's definitely something to be said for the instant gratification of digital photography, but from time to time, we do find ourselves missing the depth of expression possible with a film camera.

Like many of our readers, we cut our teeth in an analog world. Achieving the look you were after with a film camera was a simple matter. Swap in a different roll of film, and you could completely change the mood of your photo. Sure, some digital cameras offer a selection of presets and filter effects that let you tailor the look a little. A few even try to mimic a few specific film types. Compared to film, though, these presets still tend to feel rather limiting.

Perhaps that's one of the reasons camera phones have grown so popular, so quickly. Not only can you share your photos very quickly, but it's also simple to run them through an application like Instagram or Hipstamatic. A few taps of the finger and your photo suddenly has a soul.

The look of Kodachrome film, recreated by Exposure 4. Photo provided by Alien Skin Software LLC. Click for a bigger picture!

The look of Kodachrome film, recreated by Exposure 4. (Original here).
Photo provided by Alien Skin Software LLC.

Of course, there's always the digital darkroom, but we can't all be Photoshop wizards. That's where Alien Skin Software's Exposure plugin comes in, and the company has just announced public availability of its latest version.

Alien Skin Exposure 4 makes it simple to recapture the essence of film photography, with a generous selection of presets that faithfully recreate the look of dozens upon dozens of film types and processing techniques. Whatever look you're after--whether it's a faded Polaroid print, a moody, grain-filled Kodak Tri-X exposure, or something a bit more obscure--chances are you can recreate it, if it's not already included as a preset. Think Instagram on steroids: a couple of mouse clicks can resurrect that boring, digital snapshot.

Exposure 4 doesn't just tweak the color and tone curve, and overlay some grain on the image. There's a wide range of effects possible, including textures, borders, and even the ability to add dust, scratches or light leaks. This is one area in which the plugin has been completely reworked since its predecessor, yielding much more realistic, random effects. There are also more controls available, including color split toning, and the latest release can now recreate the look of more film types, such as color infrared.

This shot, replicating a cyanotype effect, is a much more radical change. Photo provided by Alien Skin Software LLC. Click for a bigger picture!

This shot, replicating a cyanotype effect, is a much more radical change.(Original here).
Photo provided by Alien Skin Software LLC.

Compared to the earlier release, Exposure 4 also has a reworked user interface. There's no longer a separation between color or black and white effects, and there's a clearer division between presets on the left of the window, and the various effect controls at screen right. (Previously, they were all accessed at left through a tabbed layout, making it harder to see what changes were being applied as you switched between presets.) Group presets make it easy to tweak several controls together without completely changing the overall style, and as you browse available settings, previews are updated near-immediately simply by hovering over a preset. There's also a handy search tool to help you find an overall preset you're looking for, with the ability to limit either to color or black and white presets. Alien Skin also notes that overall, Exposure 4 is faster than the previous release.

Available immediately for both Mac and Windows, Alien Skin Exposure 4 works with imaging applications starting from Photoshop CS4, Lightroom 2, or Photoshop Elements 9, through to their current releases. Pricing is set at US$250 or thereabouts, and owners of previous versions can upgrade for around US$100. More details on the Alien Skin website.

A more subtle change in toning completely changes the mood of this shot. Photo provided by Alien Skin Software LLC. Click for a bigger picture!

A more subtle change in toning completely changes the mood of this shot. (Original here).
Photo provided by Alien Skin Software LLC.


Press Release

Alien Skin Software Ships Exposure 4 Plug-In for Photoshop and Lightroom

Redesigned user interface that makes experimentation easier. New effects like color infrared film, light leaks, and realistic dust and scratches. Runs faster.

Raleigh, North Carolina – February 13, 2011 – Alien Skin Software today announces the immediate availability of Exposure® 4, the new version of its photography effects plug-in for Adobe® Photoshop®, Photoshop Elements, and Photoshop Lightroom®. Exposure provides accurate film simulation and a wide range of creative effects in a simple interface.

“This is the most significant update to Exposure since its creation,” said Tom Welsh, the designer of Exposure. “Across the board everything is faster and much easier to use.”

Exposure brings all the creative tools of film photography to the world of digital, such as discontinued films, dark room tricks, and lo-fi camera quirks. Popular classic films are accurately simulated, like Kodachrome, Polaroid, and Panatomic-X. Exposure reproduces the ethereal glow of black & white infrared film, and now color infrared.

New texture overlay effects are built from high resolution photos of light leaks, dust and scratches, and borders. This helps add detail to new presets for alternative photographic processes like cyanotype, lith printing, and wet plate photography.

Exposure 4 has a completely redesigned user interface and new controls that help you quickly explore its wide range of effects or develop your own custom looks. Black & White and Color Film are now combined into one filter so everything is in one place. The new text search lets you instantly explore hundreds of presets. Simply mouse over one to see a thumbnail preview.

To help you get started and for advanced techniques, the Web site has a library of tutorial videos and example images.

Pricing and Availability
Exposure 4 is available through www.alienskin.com for $249 USD. Owners of any version of Exposure may upgrade for $99 USD. Free upgrades were automatically sent to everyone who purchased Exposure 3 directly from Alien Skin Software in November 2011 or later.

Host Requirements
Exposure 4 is a plug-in and requires one of the following host applications:

  • Adobe Photoshop CS4 or later
  • Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 or later
  • Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2 or later

System Requirements
Microsoft Windows users need Windows Vista or later.
Apple Macintosh users need Mac OS X 10.6 or later.
An Intel Core 2 processor or compatible is required.
A monitor with 1024x768 resolution or greater is required.

About Alien Skin Software
Alien Skin Software makes Photoshop plug-ins for photographers and graphic designers. We distill advanced math and cutting edge research into simple tools that render beautiful pictures. Our reputation for bug-free software and friendly tech support has grown worldwide since 1993. For more information, visit our website at www.alienskin.com.