Today, in the golden era of digital photography, instead of collecting cameras, lenses, and running a darkroom, all you need is a new iPhone and three or four photo enhancement apps. Here’s a Mac photo app you might like, but it brings new meaning to photo enhancement.
Good. Better. Different.
Apple builds into OS X a laundry list of imaging capabilities for app developers. That explains why so many photo apps have similar features. They’re all playing with the same deck of cards, so to speak.
PicLight isn’t much different. It’s Mac photo enhancement app with a few hundred effects and filters and a variety of editing tools the likes of which you’ll find in many other photo apps and priced about the same.
The user interface is mostly self explanatory; loaded with non-typical Mac buttons and options, and more pre-sets than you can count. It even has a quaint floppy disk icon to save your photos (seriously, when was the last time you used a Mac with a floppy disk?).
What’s interesting with many of the effects and filters– and there are over 170 lighting effects alone– are how they take crisp and mundane photos and turn them into artistic photos that smack of photography from 20 years ago when SLRs, Kodachrome, and film ruled the landscape.
PicLight is easy to use, though. It comes with four lighting effects categories including montage, light, glow, and texture; all of which can be dropped into or onto a photo with a click. Photos can be cropped or use a preset ratio and a custom size. Colors are adjusted through simple slider tools to fine tune saturation, hue, exposure, contrast, brightness, and even shadows.
There are a few dozen antique-like filters for grayscale, sepia tone, vintage, and others. Effects and filters can be layered, or superimposed, over one another to create a nearly infinite number of options. The blending mode makes it easy to color dodge, flip effects, and add screen overlays; most of which are professional level functions.
Here’s the thing about PicLight which is similar to many other inexpensive photo enhancement apps. Sometimes they can improve a photo by adding sharpness or improving lighting and shadows or by enhancing color.
In other cases, all that happens is that a simple, straightforward and mostly nondescript photo is turned into a photo that looks like film processing and printing from a few decades ago. It’s easy to add that Kodachrome saturation look, or the common look of Kodacolor, or the clarity of TriX Pan, or the advancement of Ektachrome movie film to a digital photo with little more than a few clicks.
In nearly every case, though, the clarity and crispness of today’s digital photos will be reduced to an image reminiscent of the past. That’s both good and bad. Good for memories, style, and art. But bad because the photos are not improved as much as degraded for the sake of art and style.