Basic Alien Skin Exposure Workflow
Now we're gonna go ahead, we're gonna open our pre-sets panel, and I'm gonna introduce you to kind of the layout of Exposure X2. So, part of the power of this program is that it actually has pre-sets that are very painstakingly put together to emulate film. So, film has this beautiful quality and beautiful characteristic, and it's something that if you look at a digital image, the digital image is very clean, but there's this like beautiful nature to actual film that has been lost, especially when you get cameras like the a7R II that's like a 42 megapixel camera. It's mega, mega detailed, which is great for a lot of people, but what speaks to the heart for a lot of people is getting that film look that everybody has been, it's like a nostalgic thing. Everybody's been used to it. And the folks at Alien Skin have done a really great job in emulating those looks that everybody enjoyed back in the day with film. So it's split up into a couple of different categories here. Here you have all...
of the filters. So this will show you black and white, color, cinema, it basically shows you every option. Up top, you have your color. So this only will show you color film pre-sets. Here you will see the black and white film pre-sets. And then if you happen to create, let's say if you see any that you really like and you wanna make it a favorite because you go back to that pre-set all the time, you can actually mark some as your favorite. And then you have user-generated pre-sets. So let's say if you want to create your own pre-set that maybe you want to be able to use on images later on course, you're gonna get 10 Alien Skin pre-sets that I, basically they're like my go-to pre-sets for studio portraits, for location portraits. It's five black and white and five color pre-sets that I basically have. They were my favorites and I basically exported them, and now you're able to use them for your own work. So if you had those, those are the Alien Skin 2 pre-sets here. They're in a folder. And so you could see just by hovering over the pre-sets by the way, I'm not clicking on it, but you can get a really fast preview of what each of the pre-sets are actually doing to the image. So it's a very powerful way to be able to kind of evaluate which one of these pre-sets you want to be able to use on your image. And so just kind of looking at these, these are the ones that are available if you buy the class. They don't work for every single image, so that's why there's multiples. So you have to find the one that works right. So that's from the pre-set pack if you buy the class. But we'll go back to the color because these are the ones that come in Alien Skin Exposure X2. And so looking at the color films, for example, because I want this to be a color image, right? It kind of looked cool as a black and white and maybe that might be something that I do for my client where I'll do a color and a black and white, but it's the same image. I don't do two separate ones because then they'll see the black and white one that's a different shot and be like, "I like that, "could you give it to me in color?" And sometimes, it's like, it's easy to do, and other times it's like, I want to move on. I've got other business to take care of. So the ones that I really like the most here, there's a couple of different areas. And there's a number of options here, but you can go into, for example, color films print. And these have some of my favorite color pre-sets for studio images. These are kind of like the, if I'm not trying to get fancy with toning and trying to get super artistic, these are like the bread and butter pre-sets for most of my studio work. And, again, just kind of hovering over these, it'll give me an idea of what these look like. If, for some reason, you look at the shot and it doesn't have the exact look that you want, it's totally okay because you can actually customize these specific pre-sets on the right-hand panel, which we're gonna do momentarily. But I like for the pre-set to kind of land me in the ballpark of the look that I'm trying to get. And it's very easy, it's very fast just hovering over each of these. And you can basically see what's happening to each of these shots. I'll also mention, too, because this was something that has changed in recent times for me, when it gets to the retouching work, you want to invest in a good Wacom tablet. I am not artistically mechanical with my hands. Other than taking photos, I can't sing, I can't dance, I can't do anything artistic at all. So I'm a klutz when it comes to this. And honestly, I bought my first tablet, it sat in the closet for six months because the first time, like I can't write and draw, so I tried doing this and it was just, it was terrible. It was a really hard experience. As I started to learn new retouching techniques, some of which I'm gonna show you here momentarily, I started to realize that there was a lot more precision and power with having the pen than there was using a track pad or using an actual mouse. So if you don't have one of these, I will tell you that there's certain things that are kind of non-negotiables. If you want to be good at retouching and you want to keep that in house, you need to get one of these because this will make your life easy. They have a number of different tablets. They have some that are like big as this table. They've got some that are small. This is actually the Intuos Pro small. This is the small edition. And I like this because even though it's small, you can actually go from one end of your screen to the other, and you don't actually have to have one that's as big as your monitor, if that makes sense. So if you have like a 32-inch monitor, you don't have to have a 32-inch tablet to go from one end of the screen to the other. You can use the small one and it works perfect. And then you have all the hot keys. So the keys that you would use on your keyboard, you actually have them all on the actual tablet. So literally everything you could just keep your hands, one hand here, one on the pen, and it helps you to work very, very quickly. So I figure I'll mention that because when I started, I couldn't figure it out for the life of me, and now it's like I'll go travel and I forget my tablet for whatever reason, and I'm like, op, can't retouch til I get home because I am not using a mouse. And you could actually use your hands as well, so if you wanted to scroll, you can actually use this as a giant track pad, which is pretty cool. So you can see I can scroll through this and tap. And I'm able to do all of that. So my favorites are to look at the color films print. Sometimes the Polaroid, depending on the look that you're trying to go for. Some of these are, like Polaroid film has interesting colors. It's very wild. Some of these may or may not be your exact cup of tea, but just keep in mind that if there's something about the color that you like, you could still tweak these. So as long as it lands you in the ballpark of a look that you're trying to get, it's totally cool. So, kind of hovering through these, just to kind of give you an idea of what they are doing to each of these shots. And, again, these are all mimicking Polaroid films that have existed throughout the course of time. So, this is one of the other areas, not for this image, but it's one that I use for images that the textured background shots that we did, often times I'll go to the Polaroid filters and I'll look through those, and sometimes find things that I like. Slide also has amazing, amazing colors, amazing looks. I would say that probably 90% of the time, my picks for my pre-sets are either coming from slide or from color films print. That's my own personal opinion. My own personal taste, but yours might be different. You might be going for more of like an aged look. So maybe you go into the aged filters and maybe there's a pre-set here that kind of speaks to your artistic style and your sensibilities. And maybe a majority of your shots are in that folder. So it's different for everyone. And say like a shot like this. Maybe you like the color and you like the skin tone that this particular shot is giving you, and I'll basically select this one. So you just tap on that. And you'll see if you hover over it, you see the star. So if this is one that you're gonna use a lot, you click that star, it's gonna add it to your favorites. So that way later on you can go straight to it. But let's say you like the way that this looks, but you don't like the overlay that it has. So, you have all of the control here to basically be able to change your temperature, your tint, your exposure. So here you can do your raw corrections, if you happen to overexpose or underexpose. If you need to recover detail in the highlights and shadows, you can do that. Clarity will kind of increase the contrast of the image and it makes it look for men, especially, I always give them a little boost of clarity because that's what adds that ruggedness to the look. Vibrance and saturation are also things that you can kind of tweak to your own taste, but here in the overlay section this is where this little screen texture thing here is being added, and if you click on that, you can see that there's a number of different little scratch pre-sets that you can use that just kind of adds an overlay to the image. And let's just say you wanted the scratches, but maybe you don't want it to be super intense like that. You can actually go to the opacity here and you can increase the opacity or decrease it to where it doesn't show up at all. So you can kind of tweak that to your own taste. And you can also zoom, and it'll actually make it a little bigger. So maybe if there's a scratch that is in a part of the image that you don't really like, you can do a couple things. You can zoom to make it move, and you could use this up and down to basically, and left and right, to kind of take that transparency and flip it so that it ends up in a position to where it looks a little bit better. So you could turn that off. You can also do lighting effects, which is pretty cool. Back in the day, I used to use this all the time. So you could do flares in the corner. So these are all the different little flare effects that you can add to your images. The ones that I really, really love are these sun flare effects because these actually are kind of cool. They work great for studio portraits, but if you shoot on location, and you do any outdoor work, you can add kind of that golden light that everybody is trying to capture on a regular basis. You could actually add it in post-production. There was a wedding photo that I took for a certain someone that may or may not be in the audience, and they had this rainbow effect to their image, and that rainbow was not there in real life. It was actually just an overlay that I used in Exposure back at that time. So, you have different lighting effects that you can add to the image, and again, you can change the opacity of that. So if you wanna just make it like a subtle thing, you could totally do that. You could zoom in to expand that a little bit. So there's a lot of power and control in adding these different textures and light effects. And of course you can also add borders to your images as well. So if you want to have a, let's say, these are some of my favorites here where you have kind of like the grungy borders. And so you could do this if you want to add borders and stuff to your images as well. And I'll actually go back. Let's take this off. Let's go to texture. And this is one that's actually kind of cool as well. If you go to fundy finish, this adds kind of this textured look. And I'm gonna increase the opacity here for these. Let's go to fundy finish. Let's go here. So, if you remember my backdrops, my collapsible backdrops, they kind of have this weathered type of finish to it. And so you can actually kind of mimic some of that in Alien Skin Exposure. I could actually go into Photoshop and I might do this for some of the images, but I can actually mask in some of these types of effects to make it to where it basically adds this type of finish just to the particular parts of the image that I want to add it to. So it's pretty cool. So you have the textures there, or you could just turn off the overlays completely if you don't want any type of overlays. And you could do that for any of the attributes of this particular pre-set. So if you want to take out, for example, the focus, because you can actually go into the focus area, which I'll open up, and there are pre-sets here. So it has glamor shots, which gives kind of what I call the Barbara Walters look, where it kind of blurs the, gives you this soft blur to the image. There's lens warp. Sharpen, which I use a lot, especially for these dramatic style portraits. I love using sharpen because if you look at the skin, I'll go ahead and do a before and after here. But the sharpening that is done within Exposure X2, it's pretty, pretty crazy. You could hit before and after to be able to kind of see. So if you look at the skin, that's the raw file. And that's after. And of course we're not looking at color here because this isn't gonna be the pre-set I use, but makes a pretty drastic difference in terms of the sharpening. And if it's too much, you can actually just go to the sliders again. Everything is totally customizable. You can make it exactly the way you want to make it. You can go ahead and intensify that and kind of put that to taste. So we'll close this focus here. Actually, we'll turn these both on because we're gonna actually go ahead and get to the real options here for retouching because I want to make sure that we do that. So, looking through the slide films, I'm gonna check because I saw one in the print side that I really like, but I always check these just to make sure that there isn't one that is just gonna look really amazing and not require a ton of work. There's been times where I have an image, the one that shows up in the Sony displays throughout different retailers. There was a shot that I took, and it was a male and a female inside of this hotel room. And when I did that image, I basically took the raw file. I opened it up here in Alien Skin Exposure. I dropped a pre-set on it. I made a couple of tweaks. I exported it out. And, again, it's on like every TV across the country. It took me probably five minutes to retouch that picture. And had I used Photoshop and a bunch of other programs, I could have done it, but it would have taken me a lot longer. So sometimes you go into this program, and it's kind of funny because it's very simple, but you go into the program and all of a sudden, you end up with the look. And you're just like, "Okay, I'm done. "There's nothing really else to (laughs) do to it "because it comes out looking amazing." So, just kind of going through these one more time because I think the print side of things is really where we're going to end up.
Miguel, we did have a question about whether, similar to Lightroom, in Alien Skin, can you show two images side by side, like when you were culling and wanting to select one. Is that a functionality?
Yeah, so there's a couple ways you could do it. What I could do is I can right-click on this image, and I could hit duplicate. So, if I do that, I could go ahead and let's fit that to the screen. So I could go ahead and reset this image so that it's back to it's normal thing. And let's say I keep that there, and I'll have this image here, which is the image that I'm actually working on. I'll go through the whole process of retouching this file, and then if I go ahead and toggle left to right, I can see a before and after pretty easily. The other thing you could do is you could do a before and after split here. So, for example, you can go here. You could do before and after horizontal. So you can actually see if it was the type of image where it would show better (laughs), you can kind of see the before and after that way. You could do a vertical before and after. So that kind of shows you the half-image before, half-image after. For me personally, my favorite way to do it is to duplicate the file, and basically just go from one to the other because this basically is the way that my, kind of like my brain works. I want to see this and then just kind of inspect it to see what it looks like after the pre-set is done. Just to make sure that I didn't go too far because sometimes that's very easy to do. You'll sit here and you have all these pre-sets and sliders and you'll just sit there and you're changing everything. And the next thing you know, you've nuked the image because you went too far. Your retouching needs to be very subtle. It needs to be, like you don't want someone to look at it and be like, "Oh, wow, that's a great retouch." You want them to look at it and say it's a great image. So, yeah, long answer, but that's how I do it (laughs).