Lighting for Exposure

Recently Doug James asked the following question in a blog comment.


Since I bought Exposure, I have spent countless hours experimenting with different filters either straight up or as a combo of more than one and never tire doing so.

I have noticed though that some of the filters required the original photo to be set up with either more or less lighting and I was wondering if anyone could provide some info as to how they’ve shot with a certain filter in mind?”


There is such a wide variety of Exposure presets that there is no blanket answer, but here is something to keep in mind.

Many Exposure presets increase contrast which can darken shadows. That is true to how many films behaved compared to modern digital cameras. This may be what you want, but you should watch out for your shadows blocking up.

This can be observed in the tone curve. Start Exposure, select the Tone tab, and then start browsing presets. If you look through the Color Films – Slide and Color Films – Print groups then you will see that many of them darken shadows. The Color Films – Print – Low Contrast group is the opposite; it lowers contrast and boosts shadows.

So how does this relate to lighting? Don’t use harsh lighting when you plan to use high contrast presets. That would make strong shadows even darker.

If you do have harsh lighting then try presets in the groups B&W Films – Low Contrast and Color Films – Print – Low Contrast. Those presets are particularly good for portraits. We have an article for more Exposure portrait advice.

I hope that helps!

About the Author:

Jeff Butterworth is the founder of Alien Skin Software. He used to create the products, but now he does marketing and gets coffee for the programmers.


  1. Terence S. Jones January 22, 2013 at 7:20 pm

    I would be good though to have basic exposure adjustments in exposure – otherwise I constantly have to go back and forth to tweak exposure in Lightroom and then process in ASE!

    • Robert January 23, 2013 at 2:49 pm

      That is a great suggestion. I will make sure to pass it along to our developers. I can definitely see where that could hamper your workflow.

    • Robert January 29, 2013 at 1:43 pm

      In Exposure, you can use the Midtone slider on the Tone tab of Exposure 4. It’s an easy and safe way to control the brightness in your image since it won’t clip the shadows or highlights. We now have a support article that explains this particular question.

  2. […] when you plan to use Exposure in your post processing workflow. The blog article can be found here. This did, however, bring up another interesting question. You can find the original support […]

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