I am not usually one to use photoshop plugins all that much and usually just use a couple from NIK software just to add something different to a couple of images. Anyway the last couple of days I have allowed myself to play around with a couple of new plugins (well new to me anyway).
Both are from Alien Skin and I think they would both find a place in my workflow.
First up is Exposure 3. I have previously written a post comparing two plugins that can replicate film looks Silver FX pro and DXO filmpack. Well exposure 3 does pretty much the same thing. It has a whole selection of films that can be replicated. Most popular black and white and color films are catered for. There are 35mm, medium format and large format examples all with lots of potential customisation. The first thing I noticed with the colour film presets is that they are much more pleasing on the eye than the dxo filmpack results. The colors are rendered more naturally with real tonal depth, which DXO filmpack doesn't always have.
The second plugin is Bokeh 2, now this is definitely not something I would have ordinarily used, but I thought I would give it a go as I was interested to see how would work. I have to admit I am impressed. The plugin basically creates realistic bokeh effects. In theory allowing you to shoot a scene at say f16 or f22 and then choose a point of focus later on. Early usage suggests that it needs to be used sparingly to maintain truly realistic results. There are so many customisable options that it is a tiny bit daunting at first. You can change between different aperture effects, both twist and zoom motion effects and a few more presets.
I just did a quick trial of some the features and decided to use a distinctly average image taken in Istanbul.
I started by adding a Kodachrome 64 slide filter to the image, which nicely boosted the saturation and a bit of the detail and then added a zoom filter to make the shot a bit more dynamic. I then cropped it slightly to aid composition.
Edited image (Kodachrome 64 slide preset and zoom bokeh)
I also had a play around with the black and white setting, especially my favored tri-x look and I think the results are very good. The level of control is really good and is probably more in depth than silverfx pro (certainly easier to use). The UI is a bit dated but I can live with that.
Black and White edit (Tri-x filter (with boosted contrast) and zoom bokeh)
Its a little worrying being able to change the whole dynamic of the image with just a couple of plugins and about 5min in photoshop, but that is how it is today. You can't make a bad shot good, but you can make it different.
Thanks for reading. For more information on Alien Skin plugins visit www.alienskin.com