It’s truly an amazing time to be a photographer. There is no shortage of incredible tools to edit just about any scanned or digitally-captured image, whether it be a Raw file or many other file types. In September of 2018 I posted an overview of Alien Skin Exposure X3 as well as some of the new features that were coming to Exposure X4. You can find that article here. Recently, the company released Exposure X4.
I was impressed then with the speed and feature set of Exposure X3, and I’m even more impressed now with Exposure X4.5. There are many effects in the application/plug-in that just can’t be found on other non-destructive image editors.
Some of the things that stand out for me in Exposure X4 and X4.5 are as follows:
• LUTs: (short for Look-Up Tables) are small files that allow you to apply certain “looks” or color grading non-destructively to your images inside of Exposure X4. This is an excellent article on the topic that shows a number of examples, with a link to some free downloadable LUTs from Lutify.me.
• Preset thumbnails: (allow you to see and apply many different effects, such as film simulations), are able to be resized by dragging the panel where they are located. This is extremely helpful when choosing different looks. Like all of the panels, you can even customize where they are located.
• Hovering effect for presets is very fast (I tested it on a 2013 MacBook Pro with an i7 Processor). This feature allows you to hover your mouse over a preset, and the image in the center window will temporarily apply that preset, making it very fast and easy to test out different looks.
• The “IR” tools are nothing short of amazing. This tool allows you to create different types of “glow effects” that simulate the look of infrared (or you can use them to just add a softer look) in your images. As they say, you have to see it to believe it!
• The Bokeh tool (used to create creative blur effects) could be an application all by itself. It’s just mind-blowing.
• Tethered Shooting and Non-destructive Layers: Here is a link to a tutorial that shows some of what Exposure X4.5 can do, especially when put in the hands of a skilled image maker:
• User Configurable Keyboard Shortcuts, including one option that makes it easier for Lightroom users to either use Exposure X4.5 as an additional editing tool (standalone or as a plug-in), or for those who want to make the transition from Lightroom Classic to Alien Skin Exposure X4.5.
And here are a few of the newest features that have been added to Exposure X4.5 (from the company’s press materials)
MODIFYING KEYBOARD SHORTCUTS – A Real World Example
I try to use keyboard shortcuts whenever possible to save time, and two that I constantly use in Lightroom are the “-” and “=” keys to make thumbnails larger or smaller in the Library Module. With that in mind, I was able to change the default keyboard shortcut in Exposure X4.5 for those keys (they were previously assigned to “Toggle Pick Flag” and “Toggle Reject Flag”. Now the keyboard shortcuts match between both applications.
NEW VISUAL BROWSING OPTION FOR CARD IMPORTS
I found the new visual browsing option when copying photos from a card to be very well designed and easy to use. The thumbnails can be made quite large (almost full screen if you like), which is great for quickly making selections. Here’s what it looks like (click on image to see it larger):
Alien Skin Software has an excellent collection of tutorials to help anyone get started or hone their skills with their applications. Here is a link to the tutorial page for Exposure X4.5, and here is a link to their YouTube channel.
I would be remiss not to include at at least one screen shot from my testing. I praised this feature in my review of Alien Skin Exposure X3, but this tool never ceases to amaze me. It’s the Overlays panel, and if you like the idea of being able to create a wide variety of custom borders for your images, I would reserve a few hours for yourself to dig in and enjoy!
EXPOSURE X4.5 PRICING and 30 DAY FREE TRIAL
Alien Skin Exposure X4.5 is free to all owners of Exposure X4, and is available in two configurations for Mac and Windows OS:
• Exposure X4 (US $119). I should note that this is a $30 savings compared with the previous price of Exposure X3.
• Exposure X4 Bundle (US $149), a $50 savings compared with the previous Exposure X3 bundle. It includes Exposure X4, Snap Art, and Blow Up. As I noted in my other article, Blow Up is an amazing application that can enlarge your images quite a bit while retaining good detail and minimal or no visible artifacts. Snap Art’s forte is transforming photos or other artwork in many different ways. Effects include many different looks, including pastel, oil painting and watercolor. For more on Snap Art, visit this page, or see the the video below:
and here is a quick video overview of Exposure X4:
• Re: upgrades, the cost to upgrade from previous versions of Exposure to Exposure X4.5 is $79. The company also frequently releases updates to support the raw files of new cameras, make bug fixes, etc.
I highly recommend downloading a copy of Alien Skin Exposure X4.5 and giving it a test drive. Even if you are happy with your current Raw processing app or other image editor, you may find that some of the tools are well worth the cost of the application. If you’d like to try out Exposure X4.5 for free for 30 days, visit this page.
I’ve been a longtime user and fan of the Nik Collection. So that’s why I’m happy to see that DxO has continued developing the software after they acquired the rights to develop the software from Google. Prior to Google offering it for no fee for a while (when it was sold by Nik Software), the Collection cost hundreds of dollars, and in my opinion is still worth hundreds of dollars…as long as you use it of course :). The cost of the 2018 v1.1 bundle today is $69.
Featured in the latest version of the Nik Collection by DxO are the following seven plugins (Descriptions courtesy DxO):
• Analog Efex Pro, a classic lens, camera, and analog film simulator.
• Color Efex Pro, for color corrections, retouching, and creative effects.
• Dfine, which reduces noise in digital images.
• HDR Efex Pro, for editing HDR images.
• Sharpener Pro, for increasing the precision and detail of digital images.
• Silver Efex Pro, a black-and-white converter inspired by dark room techniques.
• Viveza, for locally adjusting color and the tonality of specific areas within the image.
Nik Collection by DxO can be opened with a number of other programs, including DxO PhotoLab 2, Serif Affinity Photo, Skylum Luminar, and other image processing software that features an export menu to a third-party program (or that’s compatible with Photoshop plugins).”
As I mentioned earlier, the cost of the Collection for Mac or Windows users is US $69 (£59 / €69). Users who purchased Nik Collection by DxO after June 2018 may update their software for free, and you can find a free 30 day trial HERE, as well as link to purchase the collection.
I found this page very interesting on DxO’s website regarding a suggested workflow when using the plugins in the Collection. I generally use only one or two of their plugins for any one image, but it can be helpful to see what they recommend. For many more specific tutorials, I recommend entering the specific plugin name and tutorial into the search bar on YouTube.com. Below is one specific video tutorial by Serge Ramelli that covers both Lightroom and Silver Efex Pro that I found particularly good.
Official technical support from DxO for the Collection is available in the following languages:
And the software is available in the following languages:
As I noted above, the current cost of the Collection for Mac or Windows users is US $69 (£59 / €69), and users who purchased Nik Collection by DxO after June 2018 may update their software for free. You can find a free 30 day trial HERE, as well as link to purchase the Collection.
2019 UPDATE! Looking for a Free Expo Pass for the 2019 PhotoPlus Expo being held in New York City from 10/24-26, 2019? Check out my article about the 2019 show HERE. Or to go right to the page with the free passes (available online until Wed. 10/23 and then $25 on-site at the show), visit THIS PAGE.
It’s that time again! The PhotoPlus Expo 2018 is returning to New York City from Thursday, 10/25 to Saturday, 10/27/2018. It’s always one of the highlights of my year, and if you are interested in just about anything related to photography and/or video, I think you’ll really enjoy the show. It’s the largest photography trade show in North America (over 200 exhibitors), and it’s always filled with gear, free expo floor talks, model and still-life photo opportunities, photo walks, workshops, and much more. I should also note that even if you can’t attend the show, you can sign up for updates on the show site (link to the show newsletter is on the bottom right of PhotoPlusExpo.com) to get news updates and special offers from PDN (Photo District News) and photo-related companies.
With that, I have a few items to share with you below. The first is a short video overview of the show which should give you a feel for what you might see and experience at the show. Also, here’s a link to a great article about the show from the folks at Fstoppers, one of my favorite photo blogs. That article also has a code for a free three-day trade show pass when you register online, as well as info on how to save if you decide to sign up for any of the workshops or related opportunities that are available. However, the Conference Pass is completely optional. I’ve found the paid conference seminars to be excellent, but there are many educational opportunities available right on the show floor.
And this year, for the second time, the PhotoPlus Expo will be co-located with the NYVR Expo. Your Expo pass allows you to see what they have on their show floor.
A FEW QUICK TIPS FOR GETTING THE MOST FROM THE SHOW
The ability to see different papers, print processes, try out different cameras, lenses and other equipment on the show floor are main reasons why many people come to the show. I highly recommend bringing a few extra SD and/or CF cards to put in any cameras that you’d like to test out so that you can bring the photos/videos home with you (just make sure they don’t have important images on them and make sure the cards are not too important/expensive, because you may forget them when you move to the next booth!).
I also recommend having a card with a few high-res images that you’d like to have printed if the opportunity presents itself. Also, I highly recommend having a safe and dust-free place for your current lens to go while you are testing other lenses (if you are putting lenses on your camera, which is a perfect way to see if a specific lens might be right for you). And to keep track of papers, printers and print processes that you see and that you’d like to check out after the show, I recommend having a notebook and pen ready to jot down your favorites (or you can do that digitally via a notes app or by sending yourself text messages. Keeping track of all the names can get confusing!
PREVIOUS SHOW REPORTS
SPECIAL NOTE – EPSON PRINT ACADEMY
This year (like last year) Epson will host their “Print Academy” in Booth #707. This is a fantastic opportunity to learn from many icons in the world of image editing, printing and photography. The people who are scheduled to speak (schedule shown below) are: Vincent Versace, Julieanne Kost, Matt Kloskowski, John Paul Caponigro and Mac Holbert. I’m honored to say that Mac Holbert is one of the guest artists featured in my book, 301 Inkjet Tips and Techniques. To see the full release about the Epson Print Academy (including some special glasses they’ll be demonstrating for drone photography), visit this page.
AN EXHIBITION NOT TO BE MISSED
This year, there will be an exhibition of art prints at Icon Gallery (Booth #1103) by John Paul Caponigro and NYC Dance Project’s Ken Browar and Deborah Ory. If the exhibition is anything like last year’s show that featured the work of Robert Farber (a photo can be seen below from that exhibition), it will be spectacular.
The exhibition prints and finishing from the 2017 and 2018 Icon Gallery shows were produced by Blazing Editions (they are in Booth #1113 at this year’s show). It’s difficult to express in words the quality of the printing and finishing (mounting, framing, custom cutting, etc.) by Blazing Editions. I highly recommend taking some time to visit the show, as well as the Blazing Editions booth. They specialize in metal printing, and they have samples of the same image printed using different finishes, which can help a lot when deciding on the look for a particular project that you (or possibly one of your clients) might have in mind.
The PhotoPlus Expo only comes around once a year, and I hope to see you there!
All the best,
P.S. I also welcome you to join any of our Meetup Groups if you would like to be invited to attend other events like photo walks, workshops, etc. in the future.
P.P.S In case you missed that link to the Fstoppers article to find the code for the free 2018 PhotoPlus Expo trade show pass, here it is.
P.P.P.S. If you don’t receive my ImagingBuffet.com newsletter updates and would like to receive them, as well as some Lightroom and workflow videos, you can sign up here.