I had an interesting chat with the folks on the MacPhun stand at The Photography Show at the Birmingham NEC at the beginning of March. They were showing off two new plug-ins called Intensify and SnapHeal. Both come in standard and Pro versions, and both work as standalone apps or plug-ins for Aperture, Lightroom, Photoshop and Elements.

They’re Mac-only at the moment (hence ‘MacPhun’) and Windows versions are on the drawing board at the moment. But the company has big plans for 2014, with more plug-ins to follow.

I thought I’d take a look at Intensify 1.0.1 Pro first. You can do the same – it’s available as a 15-day trial from the MacPhun website. Here’s how it works:

01 Preset effects

You open your image, you browse through the expanding list of presets in the right sidebar, choose and effect and see what it looks like – simple as that.

macphun-intensify-01

This is one of the ‘Creative’ Effects, and it’s based on the ‘HDR Vivid’ preset. All I’ve done is tweak the tones and add a vignette. It’s a really effective HDR ‘look’ derived from a single image. All I needed to do was make sure the original had a full range of tones with no shadow or highlight clipping.

MacPhun Intensify

Intensify 1.0.1 is just as good at black and white. This is a conversion of a colour original using the ‘Dramatic BW’ preset in the ‘Black and White’ section.

The disclosure arrow next to the preset name displays a slider for adjusting the overall effect opacity, while the sliders button alongside opens the manual adjustments. The star at the far right marks the preset as one of your ‘favorites’ so that you can find it again quickly later.

02 Manual adjustments

MacPhun Intensify 1.0.1 includes Shadow and Highlight adjustments for adjusting the dynamic range and creating HDR effects, together with sophisticated localised contrast, structure and sharpness controls. These form the backbone of its ‘intensifying’ features.

MacPhun Intensify

MacPhun Intensify

But there’s more. You can build more complex effects using layers and masks, so you’re not restricted to a single, global set of adjustments.

03 Standard versus Pro

The standard version costs $25 and the Pro version costs $60. The Pro version can run as a standalone app, works with Photoshop PSD files, and brings more sophisticated options to several of the tools.

I’m quite impressed – I like my images to have an extra dash of drama and grit. But while Intensify does offer a great deal of control, it’s designed for a relatively limited range of effects.

More to come

I’m keen to see what else MacPhun can come up with though – and shortly I’ll be taking a look at its SnapHeal plug-in. This takes Adobe’s content-aware fill technology a whole step further. Adobe offers one algorithm which either works or it doesn’t, whereas SnapHeal offers four – plus regular cloning tools for problem objects that need the manual touch.