PhotoKit Color 2.0

Do you wish you could enhance and correct your color photographs in Photoshop, but lack the time or skill to get the results you want? Look no further. PhotoKit Color 2.0.2 from PixelGenius, makes it easy for photographers to apply a wealth of creative effects and color corrections with a minimum of effort.

The 2.0 release of this plug-in includes exciting new effects and introduces the intuitive PixelGenius Toolbox for previewing and applying them. Accessible from Photoshop’s Automate submenu, this plug-in is compatible with 8- and 16-bit RGB images.

Some of the creative coloring effects in PhotoKit Color simulate film photographic techniques, including cross processing (processing slide or negative film with incompatible chemistry) and split toning (which makes the highlights of a black-and-white photograph one color and the shadows another color). New film effects re-create the look of popular chrome-film emulsions. And new special effects include color infrared variations; a splash of sunlight; and a muted, smoggy sky effect.

Although PhotoKit Color 2.0 offers plenty of creative latitude, it’s not a toy. It includes practical tools for automatic color, contrast, and exposure correction. Gray-balancing effects successfully neutralize most unwanted color casts. Tone-enhancement effects adjust exposure and contrast in precise increments. Dodge and burn effects are useful for local tonal adjustments. Color-correction effects have been optimized for Photoshop’s most common RGB color workspaces.

All effects are applied on separate layers. This nondestructive approach protects the pixels of the underlying image and allows further modification to effects with Photoshop’s layer masks and other layer-based features.

The PixelGenius Toolbox is PhotoKit Color 2.0’s intuitive new interface. It displays a large preview of your photo with the effects you’ve applied. Its batch options allow you to combine multiple effects, merge combined effects, and save effect settings for use on other images. The Toolbox is also your portal to well-written Help files, and it’s cleverly designed to allow modular incorporation of additional, future PixelGenius products.

Other Photoshop plug-ins, such as Alien Skin’s Exposure (   ), include similar effects, but I haven’t found a more comprehensive, useful collection of photo color enhancements than this one.

Macworld’s buying advice

PhotoKit Color 2.0.2 is a top-notch plug-in that offers excellent color effects and color-correction tools via a straightforward interface. It will be most valuable to professional photographers and advanced amateurs with some knowledge of photographic processes.

[ Jan Kabili is a Photoshop author and trainer. Her latest book is How to Wow: Photoshop CS2 for the Web (Peachpit Press, 2005). ]

PhotoKit Color’s PixelGenius Toolbox displays a preview of multiple combined effects before they are applied to a photo.

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