Responses by Federico Parra Barrios, type designer.
Background: Developed as part of my research project in the Atelier Nationale de Recherche Typographique in Nancy, France, Exposure is a variable font inspired by the photographic effect of underexposure and overexposure in text reproduction. It pushes the boundaries of legibility to their extremes but retains legibility in the regular exposure. Exposure’s axis of variation ranges from -100 to +100 and gives a feeling of adjusting the intensity of the light to which the typeface is exposed, thus affecting its outline. Although you might think its ideal use would be in photography-related projects, I never considered an ideal use for it; I would like to be surprised and see designers using it far beyond its concept.
Design thinking: When making photocopies for my research, I realized the effects of the photographic machine on the shape of letters. Making reproductions of reproductions resulted in copies with deformed letters that became thicker to the point of being unreadable. At that point, I saw the potential to create an ‘exposure’ axis, taking advantage of the possibilities offered by variable fonts while questioning conventional variations such as weight, width and slant.
Challenges: The first was defining the base shapes (Exposure ) from which all other exposure variations would be derived. Both the thick and thin strokes of each letter are calculated and placed precisely so that their corresponding underexposed and overexposed shapes are legible and visually interesting.
The second was the production of the font. I was always playing within the limits of current font technology, sometimes having to reconsider certain aspects of the font or writing scripts that affect the way the software works.
Time constraints: Although this typeface emerged from an academic research project, it took two years and four months to finalize. Like many type designers, I often reconsider aspects of typography countless times that the average user will not necessarily notice. Having an agreement with the type foundry 205TF for Exposure’s release enabled me to focus on its relevant aspects. Otherwise, it would probably still be in a very raw state.
Specific project demands: It was only when I decided to publish Exposure with 205TF that I was asked if I planned to create an italic for it. Normally, italics are a bit narrower and have tighter counterforms, which forced me to rethink the production processes I already had. It was also difficult to comply with the extensive 205TF glyph set as there were shapes that I had not considered that became very difficult to draw at their ends.
Favorite details: Although this typeface can be used in very expressive ways, I am most proud of how Exposure  looks in running text and its versatility.
I’m also very proud of the ordinal letter n in Exposure Italic [-100]. It was difficult to draw, and I like how it looks a lot. I hope someone will use it one day.