In my article “My Favorite Gear for Creating Monochrome Photographs” in the October ’17 issue of Shutterbug (on newsstands 9/10/17), I didn’t mention Alien Skin Software’s Exposure X3 because it was still in beta but it’s available now for $149.
Exposure X3 for OS X and Windows can be used as a plug-in for Photoshop and Lightroom or as a standalone app. It’s Collections feature lets you group your images quickly and easily, creating collections of your favorite photos, organizing projects that span multiple photo shoots, or grouping images for export. X3’s quick collection feature lets you organize images for short-term projects, such as photo contests.
Proprietary algorithms lets the software handle RAW files and Alien Skin claims that it’s the only RAW editor that’s designed for accurate film emulation with creative photo effects that can produce both black & white and color looks, including a wonderful assortment of cinema effects. X3 contains 500 presets that emulate iconic analog films, ranging from vintage Daguerreotype to modern portrait films like Kodak Portra, Lo-fi, faded, and cross processing looks. (The example above was made using the Afga Delta 100 preset,) You can customize each one and even blend multiple presets using Exposure’s non-destructive layering and brushing tools.
The software’s side-by-side view let you compare multiple images or compare the same image while using multiple presets. It’s a great way to narrow selection, find the “best” preset for your image and to edit multiple copies to experiment with different looks. Blacks and Whites sliders give you control over your photo’s the tonal range and the (no kidding) Orange and Purple saturation sliders give you more control over color adjustments. For adjusting skies in landscape images or faces in portraits, Exposure X3 includes six new presets with linear and radial tools allowing you to produce natural fades between multiple effects.
Exposure X3 includes watermarking capability (if you believe in that stuff) along with camera and lens support, enhanced vignette positioning and preset copy-and-paste options. The software doesn’t rely on separate modules, so the full set of editing tools are available at all times. This means there’s no time lost switching between modules.
You can download a free trial here and try Exposure X3 with your own images.
I’ve always been a big fan of monochrome photography and even wrote a book about it—Creative Digital Monochrome Effects. The book is now out-of-print but new copies are available from Amazon for $9.99 with used ones selling for $2.55, a bargain for one of my favorite books.