Join Steve Caplin for an in-depth discussion in this video Exposure, Contrast, and Clarity, part of Affinity Photo Essential Training.
- Here we are in Affinity Photo with no windows open. But you can still see the familiar interface. We have all the icons along the top, there are our tools down the left hand side, and here are where our Layers panels would be if we had any layers open, but we don't, because we don't have a document open. We're going to work, this lesson, on RAW images. That is, images that are captured at a high bit depth by an advanced digital SLR camera.
You won't be able to capture these kind of images on your phone, but if you have a decent camera, you'll find that RAW images are captured by default. So first of all, let's open up an image. So here are all the files that can be opened by Affinity Photo. And you can see the regular JPGs in there and here is the RAW image we're going to work on. The extension here is .ARW, and that's because it comes from a Sony digital camera. Each camera manufacturer will have its own three letter extension, and that's because the RAW format isn't a single format, but it's a type of format.
Each camera will store the data in a slightly different way. Fortunately, Affinity Photo can open just about every file format, from just about every make of camera out there. So let's open this and see what happens. It'll take a moment to open, but as soon as it does so we can see a couple of changes. First of all, all our regular tools have disappeared and they've been replaced by a smaller section of quite specific tools.
And that's because, when we're working with RAW images, we're working with a much wider dynamic range. There's a lot more we can do to the image to enhance it, but we have to use a different set of tools because we're working on a global image here. We can't add new layers, we can't apply filters, all that has to be done after the RAW process has been completed. Now this is a photograph that I took in France and it was of a very mysterious looking gateway. At the time I took the picture, the building looked dark and spooky, and really quite scary.
What's happened here, is that the camera has compensated for the fact that it was dark, it's brightened up the scene, and it looks very pedestrian. And we're going to try and use the RAW controls to bring back some of that mystery. So first of all, we could have a look at the basic tool section here, and in the exposure we can bring the exposure down a bit, to darken it up. That helps somewhat. Let's increase the Contrast. And as we do so, you can see we get a lot more definition coming out in here.
And one slider we should pay particular attention to is the Clarity. Because what this does is it boosts the edge contrast and as we drag it up, you can see we're getting a much, much sharper image altogether. Unlike the regular Sharpen tools, this does not degrade the image. So it's very, very useful to be able to use this Clarity to bring back some of the sharpness that was lost in the original. We could also have a look at the Saturation and the Vibrance, and we can just drag the sliders to change these.
You can do whatever you need to do here safe in the knowledge you can always come back later and readjust them. Everything you do in RAW remains editable until the moment you exit the RAW dialog. We've also got three more sets of controls here. If we check the White Balance button, that opens the White Balance controls. And here we can adjust the Color Temperature. You can see this image has a faint blue cast to it.
I'd like it to look rather warmer than that. And we can warm the whole thing up by dragging this toward the yellow end of the spectrum. And as we do so, it turns from a rather autumnal look to something much more summery. Of course, we can push this as far as we'd like until we get this sort of Kodachrome 1970s look. But let's stop round about here, where that looks much more convincing. Similarly, we can apply a tint to this image if we want to accentuate the amount of pink or the amount of green in it.
Generally, we're going to leave the tint pretty much alone. The next set of controls set the shadows and highlights. And if we check this button, we may need to scroll down to see them. And let's zoom in so we can see it more clearly. To zoom in, we can use the magnifying glass or the shortcut, spacebar and command, and now we simply click to zoom in to our image. With the Shadows and Highlights controls, we can recover information that appeared to be lost in the shadows.
For instance, those trees seem very dark. As we drag the Shadows control to the right, you can see much more information coming out of them. Now, this is something we couldn't do with a JPEG image. It only works with RAW images, because RAW images capture so much more information. If we have any areas of highlights that have blown out, like the front of this stonework, well we can drag the Highlights control, left to make it darker, right to make it brighter.
And you can see how it recovers information again that we thought would have been lost. Finally, we have the Profiles control at the bottom. And we can choose a camera profile from here if we have one saved. We don't for this camera, so we'll ignore that for the moment. Let's view the whole image again, and we can use the shortcut command 0 to fit the whole thing into our window.
One useful thing, working with RAW, is we can always compare the original with the processed version of the file. And that's done using these icons along the top. At the moment, we're looking at the processed version so far. If we click the second button, we get this slider and you can see there's before on the right, after on the left. And in fact we can drag this divider so we can see the difference between the two. We've only adjusted a very few of the controls so far but even so, we've managed to make a significant enhancement to this image.
If we want to see them synchronized, we can click the third icon and this shows the before and after with the same view of both. If we zoom in on one side, the other side zooms as well. So both sides are kept perfectly in sync. And that makes it very easy for us to compare like for like. To go back to the current processed view, just click the first button again. So remember the shortcuts. Command 0 will fit in the window.
Command 1 will give you an actual size view. And it's useful to be able to go between these. In the next lesson, we'll go on to look at how we can correct the distortion on the sides of this image.
- Using Affinity Photo's raw controls
- Applying lens correction
- Removing chromatic aberration and fringing
- Reducing noise and sharpening photos
- Making and modifying selections in Affinity Photo
- Creating layer masks
- Making global adjustments
- Adjusting shadows and highlights
- Enhancing color
- Converting to black and white
- Applying standard and live filters
- Creating photomontages in Affinity Photo
- Working with image stacks
- Distorting images
- Exporting photos from Affinity Photo