In mining parlance, "Naked Light" means "Open flame, such as a match or a burning cigarette, that is a fire risk in mines." For photographers, it appears to be an alternative to Photoshop - if you're a Mac *and* a Leopard user.
So, what does it have to offer? Why go up against what is seemingly a perfect program like Photoshop? For me, I know that I couldn't run my business for a single day without using Photoshop, and certainly the innovations in CS3 are monumental in how it (specifically Camera Raw) handles raw files, so, why this new idea?
One sentence - "instruction-based editing."
Photoshop only implemented layers after it's first few versions, and all the early hard-core users already came to terms with "destructive" editing - that is, actually changing the pixels of the image itself, rather than using layers and masks, and adjustment layers, and so forth. I for one have to really work hard to do layered editing, for example. I am much more content committing my changes to the actual image data, and that's a habit I have to break.
What layers are - whether curves or levels, masked or not, are instruction-based editing. Further, when you work on a file in Camera Raw, or Lightroom, or Aperture, and instruct the application to remove dust spots, or alter the color balance, sharpness, clarity, luminance, and so forth, you are not actually affecting the underlying data that is in the raw file, you are preparing a set of instructions for whatever application does open the files, to perform. This is how/why you can go back and make changes to those instructions whenever you want. Andrew Rodney touches on this vis-a-vis Lightroom here when he says "You could assign a different set of processing instructions and output the images many different ways without ever having to worry about degrading the original (RAW) data... One advantage of instruction based editing is speed. You are not working on a full resolution pixel based file but rather a preview of the RAW data. Only when you ask the converter to render the file does the big processing task take place. Suppose you have a dozen similar images that all need the same tone and color correction. You can work with a single low-resolution thumbnail and apply corrections to your liking."
Instruction-based editing is at the core of applications like Final Cut Pro, where you create Edit-Decision-Lists (EDL's) and then instruct the application to collect the raw material. Further, when you apply cross-dissolves, or other transitions or titles, you're not actually affecting the original video file - even when splicing pieces together - only the instructions with how to handle the file.
In Naked Light's tour, a few of the really interesting highlights include:
This application will challenge you to think differently - in a really big way. More so, I think, than the mental shift necessary to go from mouse to tablet.
- Pixel later. Naked light is pixel-free. Layout images and define tools and filters in real-life units like inches, millimeters, and picas.
- Mix and match images with different resolutions, color spaces, and pixel aspect ratios—all in the same composition. Naked light handles everything with aplomb, without requiring you to perform tedious—and lossy—conversions first.
- You can dodge and burn using stops, paint in millimeters, and blur by inches.
- Naked light introduces all-new, avant-garde tools like the Noise Brush, which dusts subtle details where ever you want, and Gradient Selection, which makes quick work of vignetting and other effects.
- Rather than replacing an image with the results of the filter like traditional graphics apps, Naked light just stores a recipe to recreate your composition.
- In Photoshop, you can only apply Adjustments as Adjustment Layers, and Filters as Smart Filters. In Naked light, there's no difference between adjustments, filters, and layer effects—and you can apply all filters in both manners.
- In Photoshop, you can only have one mask per layer. To create more, you need to stick a layer inside of a folder. In Naked light, you can create an infinite number of Mask nodes, and quickly drag or duplicate them between rows of nodes as needed.
However, I think that once you get your head around it, you'll find interesting new ways to interact with your images. Check out their blog The Emperor Has New Clothes for a bunch of back and forth between the developers and the Beta Zero hearty adventurers trying out the product. As the developers note in the blog - "As a head's up, you're not going to be able to get any real work done in this release—this one's for the bleeding-edger's that want a taste of the future. If you wait another two weeks until the next, more stable beta edition (Beta One), you won't miss too much. Hopefully this isn't too much of a disappointment—again, I had no idea people would be this eager!"
Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.