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There are a lot of image editing apps out there, from free to expensive you’ll find a wealth of choices.  Flare (from Iconfactory) repeats what a lot of tools can do, but has some standout features that really make it shine. The app is currently Mac-only. It can be set as an external editor for iPhoto, Aperture, and Lightroom.

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The app serves a role similar to Instagram and Snapseed. That is to say it is preset driven, but one layer beneath are precise controls. You stat by adding effects and textures to your photos  There are 90+ built-in effects and several more available for download absolutely free (just click the More Presets button in the lower left corner).

Don’t be deceived by the presets. If you’re a complete beginner, they’re super simple.  Just click to apply a preset to apply it.  You can then click on the Effects tab for controls  Here’s where the power lies.  Sure you can use just the Master Opacity slider to blend the effect, but each preset is really a combination of effects (including filters, frames, textures, and more).

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Effects can also be manually added to build your own looks (which can then be saved as presets). These include:

Color Effects:
Exposure, Midtone Brightness, Saturation, Brightness, Contrast, Tint, Duotone, Color Filter, Color Gradient, Black & White, Cross Processing

Lens Effects:
Gaussian Blur, Motion Blur, Zoom Blur, Sharpen, Glow, Vignette

Creative Effects:
Grain, Texture, Lightleak, Frame, Border, Rounded Edges, Barrel Distortion, Rotation, Halftone, Pixellate, Scanlines

Each effect contains extensive controls.  In fact I was surprised how much control I had.  The controls reminded me of some of the most elegant Photoshop filters. Stand out controls included easy to select masks as well as blending modes.  In fact clicking on the blending mode loads an interactive preview that shows you the results before you apply. This blending mode browser is highly unique and should make its way into other applications.

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Another standout feature for the app is an impressive collection of textures, borders and frames.  These are not just quickie effects.  These are 12 megapixel images that work on even the highest resolution photos.  The collection is very high-quality.  In fact I found myself saving out some of the textures and frames to reuse in other editing apps (I just applied them to a white image).

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Other features that stood out included:

  • Unlimited Undos
  • The ability to use it with iPhoto, Aperture, and Lightroom as an External Editor
  • RAW format supported for importing photos
  • Crop and Rotate controls

The application normally sells for $19.95.  But its on a time-limited special for $9.99 from the Mac App store.

You can find out more here – http://flareapp.com

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About Richard Harrington

Richard Harrington is the founder of RHED Pixel, a visual communications company based in Washington, D.C. He is the Publisher of Photofocus and Creative Cloud User as well as an author on Lynda.com. Rich has authored several books including From Still to Motion, Understanding Photoshop, Professional Web Video, and Creating DSLR Video.

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