Alien Skin Exposure 6 was announced last month and previous versions are considered some of the best plugins available according to both myself and Lee Morris. Well, yesterday Exposure 6 was released and they were kind enough to give me a beta copy to use for the last few weeks, so I wanted to share with you my top 5 favorite features from the version of the highly functional software.
Before I continue, I'd like to state that I'm not much of an advocate of plugins, actions or any other processes that make work faster while taking a potential hit on quality. I've always been a firm believer that retouching is an art, and if you want to do it right, you cannot take shortcuts. However, upon finding Alien Skin Exposure, I found that I can work along side plugins to make my workflow quicker without taking a hit on the quality of work I'm producing. No longer do I need to make complicated curves adjustments to my images when I've found that the same can be done using the sliders and presets within Alien Skin Exposure. I've reviewed the previous version in the past, so if you're curious to see what Alien Skin Exposure is, I recommend you check that out for more information. Without further adieu, here are the top 5 features of the new Exposure 6 that I find the most useful.
Perhaps the biggest upgrade from Exposure 5 to 6 is the speed of the software. Complained about in my previous review, Exposure 5 was easy to bog down when editing multiple images. It was a small issue, but when the software is designed to speed up your workflow process, it's counter intuitive when it slows it down. They've since done an overhaul to the image processing engine, allowing you to quickly see previews far faster than before. Not only will this help with batch processing, but will also allow you to view different tones and film presets quickly and effectively, to help decide on your editing process and direction.
Included with Exposure 6 is a whole new set of tools to adjust Exposure, Contrast, Highlights, Shadows, Clarity, Vibrancy and Saturation right within the toolbar. This allows you to make simple adjustments within the software, rather than having to add layer masks and other tools before or after the fact. Paired with the new controls, is a nice new darker design that is easier on the eyes and gives a cleaner aesthetic to the software.
Apple's Retina Display is nothing more than dense pixel count when viewing a screen. However, Apple has coined the term and has made it an incredibly desirable feature within various applications, despite many not having it readily available during the launch of Retina display and still today. It wasn't until an update a little over a year ago that even Adobe Photoshop CS6 was supported with Retina display, and many of the plugins and applications within Adobe Photoshop are still lacking support. Alien Skin finally made the transition to Retina Displays with their release of Exposure 6. So if you're using a dense pixeled monitor, you can expect your images to look even crisper while using Exposure 6.
Additional Light Leaks
In my review for Exposure 5, I noted that I loved the light leak features and the ability to tone them down and adjust them as needed. Although, I also commented that it felt that there was less than what was included in Exposure 4 (Alien Skin assured me that the amount was the same). Well they've decided to add additional light leaks, borders and textures to the release of Exposure 6, allowing you to customize your your images even further. While many may avoid these additions like the plague, claiming that light leaks are ugly, overdone and too artificial; I can contest that I've used them with a lot of success on many images in the past, and when done correctly...can really add an extra dimension to your photos.
Easily the most hyped update to Exposure 6 is the addition of the bokeh settings within the software. If you've used Alien Skin Bokeh 2 in the past, you'll be pretty familiar with the settings within the new Exposure 6. Essentially, you're able to adjust your depth of field and add realistic bokeh to your images based off of the lens you were using at the time of the photo shoot. While this could result in artificial looking bokeh, if done correctly and used lightly, it can end up looking great.
Again, if you're looking for an Adobe Photoshop plugin that is truly worth it, you cannot go wrong with the Exposure plugin by Alien Skin. Exposure 6 brings new features to the already beloved Exposure 5, while speeding up the entire system in the process. While an upgrade from 5 to 6 might not be the best of investments, I still highly recommend the software to those who have not given it a try. Not only is the software used by me, but famed photographers such as Sue Bryce, Felix Kunze and more.
Exposure 6 is now available for $149, but can purchased as an upgrade from any of the previous versions of Exposure or Bokeh for only $69. Still unsure with Exposure 6, Alien Skin offers a fully functional demo of the software to help sway your decision.