If you have a Mac and a digital camera then you’re probably using iPhoto. What do you use to enhance your photos beyond iPhoto’s anemic, amateurish tools? Photoshop? Sure. If you’re a professional photographer or have a degree in new media arts. Pixelmator? That’s fine for graphic design on a budget. What can you use to make photos look better than they actually look in iPhoto?
A Flare For Photos
My Mac must have half a dozen apps that are used to enhance photos. Some are drag and drop easy, but limited or too complex to figure out. The latest tool on my Mac’s Dock is Flare. Think of it as a darkroom that you can use.
The basics are just that. Basic. Drop a photo onto Flare (in the Dock or the Flare window). Then apply a preset to obtain a specific look for the photo. Save or export.
In between are effects, either preset bundles of effects, or a custom effect that you build. Each effect has controls so you can mix or match and save. All changes to a photo are non-destructive, so trial and error is the way to go.
Effects can be edited, stacked, and rearranged to produce different results on a photo.
Click on a preset and the photo changes instantly. Click on edit and each effect can be adjusted.
The most difficult aspect I found with Flare is what I’ll call my trial and error approach.
Preset effects can be stacked and rearranged. Each effect has adjustments—color effects, blending, opacity, lens effect, and standard creative effects.
That means you have a nearly infinite number of possible adjustments, depending on the desired effects. Trial and error is the way to start, but once you find preset combinations or make adjustments, they can be saved and reused.
Flare isn’t exactly Photoshop and just doesn’t have the range of image enhancing tools But for middle class photographers who need more than Aperture or iPhoto, but don’t want to master the complexity of Photoshop (or, even Pixelmator), you’ll like Flare immediately. It’s fun to use and tinker with the presets, but it can take plenty of time to get a single photo to look just right.