Ian MacMichael is a wedding and portrait photographer based in Liverpool, England. His work has received numerous accolades, such as being featured on Junebug Weddings, earning him a place in the Fearless Photographers directory, and more. Ian adopted Exposure as a Lightroom alternative because he wanted a complete solution for photo organizing and editing.
He explains his first experiences of acclimating to Exposure in the article below.
I remember the first time using Exposure for more than just creative effects. I phoned my client just after I finished packing up from their commissioned shoot to let them know that I was finished. They asked that I put a rush on delivering the finals because they were effectively needed that same day. I normally don’t do photo editing work on my laptop, but that’s what I had with me on the shoot. I popped into a nearby cafe and started downloading images off of my cards during lunch.
I was on the road and didn’t have my typical editing go-to software, Lightroom, installed on my laptop. Faced with this tight deadline, I tried my hand at using Exposure for everything from downloading from cards, editing, and through to exporting the finals. By the time I finished with my first shoot in Exposure X2, I knew that I found a reliable Lightroom alternative. Exposure not only kept up with the speed I was used to, but it far surpassed my expectations because of the simple, streamlined workflow. What’s better is that it also provided me with additional control over the way my images look.
I first noticed that Exposure’s controls give finer control over effects than their Lightroom counterparts. I felt like I was used to working with a machete in Lightroom, whereas Exposure’s controls are more of a scalpel. Adjustments made to the contrast slider in Lightroom, for example, produce aggressive changes to the image. Exposure’s sliders give you more refined control so you can precisely dial in each effect. This was different than what I was used to.
I began editing with a goal to recreate looks that I developed with Lightroom, instead of just making images look and feel the way that I like. Sure, I can eventually make something similar, but as I went through the process I realized I didn’t want that look in the first place. You can’t just take your Lightroom skills, throw them into Exposure and, in minutes, make identical-looking images. They are going to be a little different. Just like shooting with a DSLR, a mirrorless camera, or medium format or painting with a different brush. I assure you it’s absolutely worth it. The finished product you can get out of Exposure is so, so good.
Now my editing workflow is a little different, I first take a step back and try to recognize the heart, or essence, of an image before I begin transforming it in post processing. The more time I spend organizing and editing with Exposure, the more I feel that my photos turn out looking closer to what I envision. Exposure allows me to achieve better representation of my creative imagination.
Adopting Exposure as a Lightroom alternative saves me time and from needless complexity. Instead of importing, culling, marking, and editing in Lightroom, then exporting to Exposure to apply grain, vignette, final color grading, and creative effects, I’m able to do it all in a single program. If an image needs extensive retouching, it is just as simple to open and edit the image in Photoshop from Exposure as it is using Lightroom. After major cloning or liquify, or the removal of whatnot is complete in Photoshop, the image updates in Exposure, seamlessly.
So if you’re curious about using Exposure to replace Lightroom and to handle your full workflow, follow Ian’s example and give it a try. The learning curve is minimal, and you may find that your creativity and efficiency are substantially improved.
Learn more about Ian on his website, or follow him socially on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Very interesting article. It confirmed many of the things I’ve noticed with X2/X3 subtle and delicate would be my words.
I’m currently using X2 as a LR plug in. I’ve noticed myself tending to go to X2/X3 more and more. I’m trialing X3 and will be moving towards using ASX3 as my standalone editor. I am not happy with LR/Adobe support and not at all happy with their subscription model. I also find the whole catalogue system very tiresome.
So it’ll be interesting to see where I go from here.
Thanks for commenting Andy! If you hadn’t already mentioned it, I would have recommended that you give Exposure X3 a try. We’ve heard a lot of great testimonials from photographers that made the switch to placing Exposure at the center of their workflow. I think you’ll like the speed boost you’ll get from Exposure’s catalog-free workflow. It can make a huge difference.
Nice Article, i just try X3. The speed ist great especially for smaller temporary projects where i don’t need the whole and slow catalog thing. My Mac is some years old and, with SSD, is running through my pictures.
I dislike the subscription Model from Adobe, so X3 maybe a perfect replacement.
The only think that might keep me from working effectively with X3 is the user experience. I talk about the input. Using the mouse for moving the tiny sliders is not the way i like to deal with lots of photos. With Lightroom i use a Behringer BSR2000 Midi Controller with 24 endless rotary knops that i use for every possible adjustment, it´s a whole new user-experience and feels just right in my hands.
Is there a chance for future versions to implement a Midi-Control for exposure? And one more question, do you plan to install a forum for your users to stay in touch with them where they can ask for functions they miss or make suggestions for further improvements?
Thanks for your comment. It’s possible to use some MIDI controllers now. Any controller that was button based could be adapted. You would just need to map the Exposure X3 shortcut keys to the appropriate buttons.
Controllers with sliders or knobs would require more programming to make work. Currently shortcut keys are fixed, but I’ve added a feature request for user mapping of shortcuts, which would allow you to use the controller model you mentioned.
We document any feature request correspondence we have with users, regardless of the communication channel, but the easiest way to handle feature requests is by contacting our support team. You can open a ticket by visiting this link.
I am using the trial and used to Lightroom, but am quite impressed with Exposure X3.
I really would like an ‘Auto’ function, some image geometry tools and where is the an RGB info?
Thanks for trying Exposure X3 and for the suggestions. Auto buttons and perspective correction tools are both features that we already have on our radar. As for RGB info – what are you looking for, there? How are you using that info in workflows with other software?
Please am Auto function and realignment soon. Have bought X3 and am using it as a plug-in with LR at the moment but would love to loose LR altogether soon!
Thanks for the suggestions. I’ve logged your feedback for the design team to consider implementing as they plan new versions.
Could you clarify what you mean by realignment? Are you referring to perspective adjustments for vertical or horizontal distortion?
I also am using the trial version and coming from LR. I have a good first impression but the crop tool is very simple and there is no horizontal, vertical and both perspective correction tool. If you want to be an real substitute of LR you would try to satisfy this and other tools as fast as you can.
Thanks for the feedback, Miguel. A perspective correction feature is on our radar for a future version of Exposure.