When it comes to editing, time is money. Alough efficiency is key, sometimes you need flexibility when it comes to presets and adjustments. That’s where Exposure Software comes in. It helps you make the most of your workflow while allowing flexibility.
Exposure Software’s main application is called Exposure X5. If you’re an Adobe user, the interface will look familiar. Exposure boasts a variety of enhancement tools specifically tailored to photography: vignette, grain, bokeh, infrared, lens correction, defringing, etc. It has an extensive presets panel full of realistic film looks you can apply to images. You can view images by folder, sort and rank images, and navigate in a manner similar to Lightroom’s library view. Where Exposure really shines, though, is in its customizable presets.
Within minutes of installing Exposure, I felt comfortable using it, though I did play around with the various controls to learn how to fully utilize all the features. The nice thing about Exposure? You can layer effects within the software, and each layer can be masked for selective application to the image. You can then save these layers and effects as a custom user preset for future use, which I found very convenient. It’s worth noting that Exposure can open TIFF, JPEG, DNG, PSD as well as many raw formats, so you can use Exposure as your first stop in an editing workflow.
I edited a series of fine art images for gallery exhibition using Exposure, and I found that saving presets to apply to future images was a huge timesaver. I had several images where I wanted to enhance the sky and grass so I created a custom preset with layers to adjust the vibrance, change the color temperature, and apply a hue shift. Within each image, I then fine-tuned the adjustments using masks on each adjustment layer. Even though the images I worked with were not identical, this technique allowed me to create pleasing final images.
Exposure is useful when editing fine art images in particular, but I’m sure it would be beneficial for portrait work, too, particularly if you’re on location and want to enhance parts of a background or scene.
Exposure can be set up for access from the Filter menu of Photoshop, or by right-clicking on an image in Lightroom (Edit In > Exposure 5). When using Exposure within Photoshop, it opens in individual image editing mode rather than its standalone multiple image editing mode. After you apply your presets and adjustments, Exposure returns you to Photoshop, rendering a new layer that contains the adjusted image.
Exposure Software also offers several other programs: Blow Up, a tool for optimizing images for printing, especially in large format, and Snap Art, a tool for rendering quick artistic effects. Blow Up is useful for prepping large-format panoramic images. A 30-inch panoramic print rendered better when I generated it via Blow Up. If you’re interested in offering quick and easy artistic renderings for clients, Snap Art may be worth exploring. It’s an expanded filter gallery with a number of art presets: color pencil, crayon, impasto, oil paint, etc. You can also apply detail masking to specific areas of the canvas, a feature I found useful when creating more natural artistic renderings.
Overall, I enjoyed working with Exposure and the other software created by Exposure Software. Blow Up and Snap Art both provide useful, albeit specific, features to photographers, so they might not appeal to you. If you already have an established workflow with Photoshop plugins, then you might find Exposure Software to be redundant and unnecessary. That said, there’s a place for Exposure Software’s programs. They're budget-friendly, nicely designed, easy to use, and demand practically no learning curve. If you’re looking for help improving the efficiency of your editing processes, you might find Exposure, Blow Up, and even Snap Art to be useful in your workflow. For myself, I would use Exposure to fine-tune art images and other photographs where I want to get more hands-on with editing but would like repeatable results.
Exposure Software offers free trials for each of its software programs. All of them work as Adobe add-ons or as standalone products. Exposure can be purchased on its own for $119, or for $149 as a bundle with Snap Art and Blow Up. Snap Art and Blowup retail for $79 each when purchased individually.
Betsy Finn, M.Photog.Cr., is a portrait artist. Her studio, Betsy’s Photography, is located in Dexter, Michigan.