By now, the idea of applying filters to give photos a retro look is well established. But for the more serious out there who want to go beyond the obvious smartphone apps, Alien Skin Software plans to release Exposure 4 tomorrow.
The Exposure software brings a certain precision to its task, carefully emulating the look of actual film--early Kodachrome, say, or Kokak Tri-X 400 pushed a stop--for those who remember. It's not a coincidence that the software has the tagline "Taking the digital out of digital photography."
Version 4 of the $249 software brings new abilities in reproducing defects such as light leaks or dust and scratches that film-era photographers usually strove so hard to avoid. And it's got hundreds of new presets for styles such cyanotypes and wet-plate photography.
Digging through the settings is like touring decades of photo history--you get far more than the usual collection of washed-out Polaroid, oversaturated Fujifilm Velvia, and antiquey sepia tones. If you want to hearken back to an earlier time, Exposure 4 is a good way to do so.
Of course, all the settings are adjustable, and Exposure 4 has a better interface for managing all the options than Exposure 3, Alien Skin said. And the new version is faster, too. It works as a plug-in for Adobe Systems' Photoshop and Lightroom.
Upgrades cost $99, but those who bought version 3 in November or later get the upgrade free.
Or people can try a host of alternatives, many of them cheaper. Competitors include Snapseed, CameraBag 2, and FX Photo Studio. (The personal-computer versions of Snapseed and FX Photo Studio are for Mac only.)