When it comes to editing photos that are stored on your Mac, there are really only two options. The very easy way, which involves a small, cheap software package with several cheesy effects, or using an application such as Photoshop which requires a bit of getting used too. Although the results obtained from Photoshop will normally be of a better quality, there is a massive gap in the market for an application that uses the simple interface from the smaller software packages, but also has been built to include some great features, powerful effects and a plethora of editing features. FX Photo Studio Pro has made a big leap towards this "perfect for amateurs and professionals" photo editing application. With a massive library of easy to apply effects and masks, combined with editing features such as adjustment layers, levels, and sharpening features, FX Photo Studio provides an alternative way to edit your photos.

Interface

When FX Photo Studio is opened up, there is an immediate similarity between it and iPhoto, which makes not so experienced user feel a lot more at home, so can really begin to focus on how the images look rather than how to actually go about editing them. The layout is very self explanatory, with a large bar along the bottom which contains all 159 effects that come with FX Photo Studio Pro. Everything that you will need is inside a single window, so there are no panels and tabs to hide and unhide from view. There are also some great animations for sliding in options and fading menus. Even with all these great animations to make your workspace more lively, FX Photo Studio Pro still ran very quickly. The toolbars also look great, with simple icons that with their lack of colour, provide a sleek and clean look to the application.

Opening Your Photo

To open a photo ready to edit, the simple drag and drop interface allows you to easily just drag a photo from its containing folder (or even straight from iPhoto), straight into the FX Photo Studio Pro window. Or alternatively you can just use the file browser to open a photo. To open a photo just drag and drop it into the window FX Photo Studio Pro supports many file types including:

• TIFF • JPEG • PNG • CRW • RAW • CR2 • RAF • MOS & many more!

Also, the Pro version can edit images up to 32 mega pixels in size which is way beyond any high end camera even today.

Editing Your Photo

Once the photo you selected has opened, you are ready to start applying effects to the image. The large scroll bar along the bottom contains all 157 effects that can be used to create a great looking photo. Having been at the Paris Air Show (2011) for the past couple of days, I can take this opportunity to play around with several of the photos that were taken during the event. (This first photo is of the new 747 - 8 Freighter from Boeing - Just thought you might like to know) Clicking on any of the effects along the bottom will change the main image and set it as a preview. Apply any combination of 159 effects, shown in the scroll bar along the bottom Before beginning to edit this photo, we will take a look at the other features. The first of which is the cropping tool. This allows you, as all other cropping tools do, to crop the size of your image to a size that better fits the images proportions. You can drag each corner to form the shape you want, or even use the preset proportions on the right. There is also the option to rotate the image either clockwise or anti-clockwise. Then, when you are done, just click the tick icon. Crop your image with the intuitive cropping tool Once the image has been cropped, you will end up with something like the image below. There is an option to fit the new photo to the size of the screen which will give you the best working real-estate. Once the image has been cropped you can fit it to the size of the open window As well as applying a crop template to the image, we can also use the other editing features in FX Photo Studio Pro to enhance the colours and make the image look better. Apply a range of adjustment layers to the photo On top of the exposure, brightness, saturation, contrast, temperature, hue and the colour balance settings, there are also options to change the white point and black point by adjusting the levels (there is also an auto adjust feature for this step), as well as sharpening the image and editing the look of the shadows and the highlights. Once the image looks right, it is time to add some effects and filters to the image. This is easily done through the use of the previews in the lower half of the open window. For this image, I have chosen to add the "Warm" filter and the "Vintage" effect. There are several categories of effects to apply:

• Lo-Fi and Cross process • Sketches and Textures • Color fantasy and Glow • Vintage and Grunge • TiltShift and Blur • Hollywood FX and Color Strokes • Night Vision and Comics • Vignettes and MANY more

Each set of effects can be viewed separately by selecting the relevant categories on the lower toolbar in the middle. Each effect can also be searched for by using the search feature if you can recall the name of the filter, or would like to search for example, all filters with "blue" in the name. The photo after adding the Warm and Vintage effect After applying these effects, the processes that we have gone through to achieve this look can be saved to FX Photo Studio Pro as a preset to use later. Simply click on the add preset button on the right hand side which will allow to handily use the same sequence of effects later on another image. Save the preset as any relevant name you like This feature can prove very useful, and save a lot of time when editing photos later. For example, below is another image taken, which the same filter that we have just made can be applied to. With a few simple clicks a great looking image can be produced that will match the original image to produce a set. Applying a saved preset to a new image The side-by-side view shown here is really very useful if you can not remember what the original image looked like, and I found myself using this feature quite a lot to make sure that I was making the right decision when editing the photo. The preset that you have created can also be shared with others. A unique code is generated to achieve the look you created. For this preset the code was 90735762, which can easily be saved through the integrated options of either Twitter or Facebook. On top of this another great feature, is the fact that you can even share the image you have created right from within the application. Share the image you have created You will just have to provide your login details for either Facebook, tumblr, flickr, twitter or even your email, and the photo will be shared with whom ever is following you or your friend on Facebook for example.

Images

Below are three of the images that I created with FX Photo Studio Pro from the Paris Air Show 2011. Fighter Chopper""Boeing-747-8-Freighter

Conclusion

FX Photo Studio Pro is a brilliantly creative solution for editing photos on your Mac. With tonnes (and I mean tonnes) of effects at your disposal, every image has a great effect that will make it look amazing. The Pro version of this software at the moment does seem rather pricey. At $39.99 / £23.99, despite the large database of effects, you may feel that you should be getting more for your money that what is currently being offered. There is an update that promises a load more features with some cutting-edge processing tools, but there is also mention of a further price increase. If this update was done with no price increase and the new added features were of a good standard then there is no question that FX Photo Studio Pro would be worth its cost. Despite the cost though, FX Photo Studio Pro does offer you a great selection of some of the highest quality filters and effects for editing photos on your Mac and is well worth a look at. Also, if you buy it now, the new features should come free with the update as the Mac App Store does not charge for updates to Mac applications.