Remember when Photoshop first came out? All of a sudden filters were *everywhere* – especially the cut-out comic effect. While I worked at a student paper almost every other piece of art-work we saw come in had been processed in some god-awful way and it was a relief to see a “straight” photograph. And then either people stopped doing it as much, or I stopped looking but somehow up until about two years ago heavily processed photos didn’t seem as popular. And then Hipstamatic and Instagram hit and there was suddenly a whole new wave of doctored images, this time with a retro theme. I’m not a grumpy old man (not yet anyway, although it’s clearly heading that way) and some altered images look smashing – I love playing with Instagram as much as the next fool with a smartphone. But at least half the images I see remind me of Wes Bentley’s character in American Beauty who has tape after tape (yes tape …it’s an old film) containing footage of plastic bags floating in the wind. Not everything is worth recording, saving and then uploading to Facebook. Special effects are great when treated as a seasoning, rather than the meat of the movie – look at the weighty character study that made The Rise of the Planet of the Apes excellent compared with the fluff of Green Lantern.
Ok mini-rant over. I only mention it as we were given the chance to trial FX Photo Studio 4.0 by MacPhun and it’s fantastic. The Mac OS X app is light, fast and simple and enables you to play with an incredible array of 194 photo effects and filters. There may well be an instruction manual somewhere but it’s almost completely unnecessary – it’s easy to figuratively dive right into the app and apply effects, crop photos and tweak parameters. As well as integration with iPhoto and Aperture, sharing is baked straight into the app (one of the reasons Instagram became such a runaway success) so you can email photos, post them to Twitter, Facebook, Flickr or Instagram (as with any social sharing button I would like them to insert a final “does the world *really* need to see this” dialogue box for each submission.
The app comes in Pro and Standard flavours. Pro has a few more editing tools, like light levels, sharpening, noise reduction and supports raw files and up to 32 megapixels image resolution (standard version supports up to 16 megapixels) but unless you are a pro-photographer you should be fine with standard version, as the core features are the same, including the number of effects and filters. And like most apps, there are iPad and iPhone versions so you can take the fun with you on the road.
For more information head to fxphotostudioapp.com/