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By Theano Nikitas March issue Share Alien Skin Exposure software has grown from its start as a plug-in with great analog presets into a raw processor with an ever-expanding feature set. While version 2. Keywords are a critical component of organizing a searchable image library, and Exposure X3 offers several options to ensure that all images are properly identified. There are a couple of ways to build a keyword library. One is to create lists and sets of descriptions in the new Keyword Library panel; these can be applied to images already on your hard drive or during import when copying files from a media card.

When the card is plugged into a card reader, the software automatically opens a dialogue box. The metadata in the dialogue box now includes options to apply keywords from the library and directly in the panel. Since the keywords live in a sidecar file—along with other metadata—the information travels with the files. Collections and Quick Collections have also been added to Exposure X3. Creating Collections and Quick Collections is drag-and-drop simple.

A Quick Collection is created with nothing more than a single click of the L key click again to delete the selected image. Thanks to virtual copies more on that in a moment , the same image can be added to multiple collections without gobbling up additional hard drive space. Another useful feature is the side-by-side view, which is ideal when comparing similar images. I find quad the most efficient, especially for vertical shots. Just look for the little pin icon in the upper right corner of each image.

To the left of the pin, the Audition Presets icon allows you to choose a single image and view it with different presets with the same layout options used in the comparison mode. Just drag and drop a preset into the other three spaces in the display.

To apply the preset you like best, click Apply in the lower right corner and the other presets will be discarded. In this version, Alien Skin has added linear and radial presets to its collection of more than film emulations. Which leads us to virtual copies—another new and welcome feature in Exposure X3.

You can create as many virtual copies as you like and even make virtual copies of virtual copies, edit each one differently, and save or discard any or all of them. Exposure X3 identifies virtual copies by a small turned up corner on the lower left of the thumbnail. Head to the Metadata panel to name the virtual copy for easy identification later.

Alien Skin has added other features to X3, including linear and radial gradient tools, new overlays and a batch overlay import option , along with new sliders for Blacks and Whites, Orange and Purple color saturation sliders, and a few others.

You can find the full list of features, with the new additions highlighted, at alienskin. Although all the updates in this version are welcome additions, the new keywording and collections features alone are worth the upgrade for current users. Beyond the new features, there is a lot to like about Exposure X3: Available for Mac OS X Theano Nikitas has been writing about photography for more than 20 years.

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Correcting for exposure, saturation, and other settings are the expected baseline, which means applications need something more to differentiate themselves. Affinity Photo 1. You can preview thumbnails, rate and flag photos, assign keywords, and fill in basic IPTC metadata such as Title, Caption, Copyright, and contact information.

You can rename files at import, specify custom destinations and create presets for folder structures , and apply keywords and metadata during the ingest process. Import photos from multiple sources in the same batch. There are also options to compare two or three images at a time. If one stands out, you can pin it to the screen and compare it to others.

The views are synchronized, so zooming in on one zooms them all at the same location in the image. Compare four similar images at a time in the Quad view. The advantage to this approach is that, as long as you continue to use that application to manage everything, all that data is more easily accessed by the software. If you move an original Raw file on disk to a new location, for example, any edits you made would not go along with it.

When you view a photo in Exposure X3, the software also reads the information in the sidecar file and displays the edits noted there. Those files use the same structure as XMP files, but can also include editing instructions that only Exposure X3 understands. Some directory viewing software is just a visual way to traverse the folders on your disk, but Exposure X3 does use some centralized know-how to help you organize photos. The Collections feature lets you create virtual albums to group related photos that may exist in separate directories, such as shots from a single client captured over several photo shoots.

Differentiation in editing Before Alien Skin released Exposure as a stand-alone application, it was known for its presets that simulated the looks of film stocks and other effects. Those are all there in Exposure X3 , and the results are quite good.

Want to preview how a preset will look before you apply it? Compare presets to the same image before applying your pick. In addition to the basic editing adjustments tone, color, and so forth , Exposure X3 also includes controls for controlling grain and creating vignettes that introduce variation such as distortion and lump size for more organic results.

An IR panel introduces the soft hazy signature look of infrared photos with sliders to control color contrast and the degree of halation light spread. A Bokeh panel includes a multitude of controls for adding selective focus. Exposure X3. Instead of making edits to one photo and then copying them to other images, you simply select all the images you want to change in the grid view or the filmstrip at the bottom of the screen.

As you make edits to one, the adjustments are applied to all of the others. When you make any adjustment, as with Lightroom, the effect is applied to the entire image. Unlike Lightroom, Exposure X3 supports multiple layers, enabling you to isolate adjustments on their own layers.

In fact, local adjustments such as brush strokes or radial or linear gradients automatically appear as new layers. Each layer has an automatic mask that hides the adjustments until you expose them with the brush or gradient tools.

If your images are stored in a shared location, such as a Dropbox folder, someone else running Exposure X3 can view the photos The Portrait Touch Up preset demonstrates this: Paint over the affected areas to reveal the effects.

Remember earlier when I mentioned that Exposure X3 stores metadata in its own sidecar files? All of the editing information is also stored in the same place, creating an interesting collaborative possibility. If your images are stored in a shared location, such as a Dropbox folder, someone else running Exposure X3 can view the photos. Performance Working with layers and local adjustments in Exposure X3 is a bit of a mixed bag.

When editing Raw. RAF files from my FujiFilm X-T1, there was noticeable lag when using the brush, which meant I became accustomed to painting an area and waiting a beat for the result to appear before moving on.

The lag was more pronounced when viewing an image at 1: Even when reviewing images, I saw pauses as the software processed my Raw files. The update from version 3. I became accustomed to painting an area and waiting a beat for the result to appear before moving on I also loaded some Nikon.

I was also surprised that the Shadows control seems subpar. Pros and Cons Import from multiple sources at the same time Edits and metadata are stored in local files, not a central database Quad layout reviewing.


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