Project Description

Watch this video to learn the basics of using Exposure and about the important features for photo editing and organizing.

Photos: John Barclay


You can also use Exposure as a creative editing plug-in for Photoshop or Lightroom. We have videos that show you how to get started with those programs on our website.

I’m starting with Exposure already launched. Here is its main window showing the last set of files I was working on. Let’s navigate to the folder I want to work in.

Here is the folder view on the left hand side of the screen. From here, I can switch to a new folder. If you have a lot of images, it’s useful to categorize them. Exposure has a number of tools to help you with this. There are star ratings… color labels… and flags. Exposure also has advanced categorization features like keywords, collections, and smart collections. Visit our website for tutorials about those and other organizing features.

Once you have categorized your images, you can set filters, such as show all images that have three or more stars.

Clear the filter by pressing ⌘+O (or Ctrl+O on Windows), and then filter by color label. Or by flag. Let’s stay on this filter, which hides all images that I flagged as rejects. You can also sort your images in many different ways, such as camera model, or rating.

If you don’t see the image you’re looking for, Exposure’s metadata search makes it easy to find. You can search by camera, lens, shutter speed, ISO, and many other criteria. For a complete list of searchable terms, see our help page.

Now that I’ve found the image I want to edit, I’ll double-click on it to switch to single image view. The other images in the folder are still available in the filmstrip view at the bottom. Click to select another image or use the arrow keys to move through them in sequence.

Next to the folder view on the left side is the presets list. This is where you’ll find Exposure’s large library of creative effects. The presets are organized into folders. You’ll find color and black and white films, focus effects, faded films, lo-fi looks, and more.

I’m starting with a portrait that could benefit from a low contrast treatment, as well as some touch up.  So I’ll choose the the Color Films – Print – Low Contrast category. Here you’ll find a number of subtle color effects that work great on portraits. These make great choices because they make skin look smooth and healthy. The small thumbnails show what the effect looks like on your image.

Notice that as I move the cursor over each small image, the large preview image in the center updates so you can see the effect at full size. Once I find one that I like, I click to select it.

Now that I’ve chosen a preset, I can make some refinements using the sliders on the editing panels. I’ll start with the Basic panel, which has sliders for basic adjustments like Exposure and Saturation. Let’s increase exposure a bit.

To compare my edits with the original, I hold down the  key. Note that the edit controls are available all the time. Even when you are looking at thumbnails you can edit photos.

Exposure features a Brush tool and a Spot Heal tool, so you can quickly retouch your photos. These work especially well for portraits. I’ll make a few quick refinements using the Spot Heal tool. To learn more about using these tools in Exposure, watch our non-destructive layers video.

Exposure’s histogram helps you avoid clipping in either the shadows or highlights. You can make adjustments directly on the histogram to edit your image. You can drag, as well as reset shadows, exposure, and highlights.

Exposure’s presets are great for achieving more dramatic effects, too. I’ll choose a landscape image and apply a black and white film emulation. After hovering over a few options, I’ll go with Fuji Neopan 1600. This preset works great for this shot because it enhances the detail in the sky and the foreground grass.

I like this look, but it’s a little too strong. Let’s turn it down by adjusting the Overall Intensity slider. This controls how the effect is blended with the original image. For black and white images, Exposure can adjust the overall blend on either a black and white or a color base image.

To learn more about Exposure’s editing tools, you can watch our in-depth tutorial videos.

To undo an edit, or to see a record of your creative edits, expand the History panel. Here, I can see the exact values for each adjustment I made. I can also hover over each history entry to see what the image looked like at that point in time, and then click a history entry to roll back to that state.

So now we’re finished editing our image. Exposure is a nondestructive editor. Your edits are remembered, so there is no need to save. If you quit and come back, everything will be just as you left it.

You can export your image to use it with other applications, which is useful for preparing to send to a print service or sharing online. Exposure gives you many different options here, including image size, file type, and file name. We cover this topic in our Exporting Images video.