Project Description

This video tells the first things to know when you’re starting to use Exposure with Adobe Photoshop. It gives a brief tour of the UI, and suggestions for how to work.

Photos: John Barclay


Exposure works great with Photoshop, but running it standalone has several advantages. You can work directly on RAW files, saving the time and disk space required to bring your RAW file into Photoshop. You can also easily process multiple photos simultaneously, which is a huge time saver when you use Exposure on an entire photo shoot. It handles your full editing workflow, from copying images, culling, non-destructive RAW edits, special effects, exporting, and printing. And it works quickly, without imports, catalogs, or separate user modules.

To learn more about using Exposure as a complete solution, watch our series of organizing videos on Exposure.

I’m starting with Photoshop launched, and I have already opened the photo I want to work with. Let’s launch Exposure and do some editing. To do that, I go to Photoshop’s Filter menu, then open the Alien Skin menu and click Exposure.

Here is Exposure’s main window. On the left side of the main window 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 looks, lo-fi looks, and more. At the bottom of the list you’ll see Recently Used presets

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

To compare your edits with the original, hold down the key. Now that we have chosen a preset, we 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, then bring up our Vibrance.

Exposure’s histogram helps you avoid clipping in either the shadows or highlights. You can drag regions in the histogram to adjust the tones in your image.

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 effect, 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 color or black and white base image.

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.

If I want to undo an edit, or see a record of my creative edits, I’ll expand the History panel. Here, I can see the exact values for each adjustment I made.

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

Now that we have finished editing our image, I click Apply to confirm the changes and go back to Photoshop. I’m back in Photoshop now. Notice that Exposure has created a new layer with the edited image. You can adjust the opacity of the new layer to blend it with the original. You can run Exposure again on the original layer to try a different effect.

If you don’t want Exposure to create new layers, you can turn that feature off in Exposure’s preferences.

For another nondestructive option, Exposure also works on Photoshop’s smart layers. After applying an effect, just double click the smart layer to launch Exposure and adjust the effect.