In this article, I will show you 5 adjustments to fix your photos Affinity Photo. All photographers take photos where the exposure is slightly off or where other issues with the image creep in. However, with help from post-processing, we can correct and fix some of these issues.
The sample image we will use in this article has several issues, that need to be addressed before it looks great.
I agree that it would be best and optimal to get it right in the camera in the first place. That is the goal. But it is seldom the reality for many of us photographers. This is where we need to get a little assistance from a photo editor like Affinity Photo.
I understand that not everybody has the time or patience to learn a lot of different tools and techniques to improve their images. Nor do everybody wants to follow or learn a complete post-processing workflow in affinity photo. However, using a complete workflow in Affinity Photo will give you much better results, but it will also take a lot more time to learn the techniques and to process every single image in a professional way from start to finish.
If you don’t have the patience to do that, these 5 ways to fix common issues can help you through with minimum effort using Affinity Photo. I’ll show you the adjustments that I almost always apply to my images to some extent. Some images need more fixing, and even though most images turn out ok straight from the camera they can still benefit from slight adjustments using the fixes below.
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Fix #1: Brightening up the image
Often your images come out with too much in the shadows; this is because the camera tries to avoid overexposing the image. Overexposed images are harder to recover than underexposed. However, if your image is underexposed and you are not looking to get a dramatic look or to create a particular mood with the lack of light, you should lift it a bit in post-processing.
Brighter images are generally better at grabbing the attention of whoever is seeing it. I rarely use the brightness or contrast adjustment sliders in Affinity Photo to brighten up an image. I usually use the exposure adjustment. When you adjust the exposure slider, watch the histogram and be sure not to lose details in the highlights. If you end up with a small amount of blown-out highlights, you can compensate by adding a highlight adjustment layer and pull the highlights down again. With sunset or sunrise images, or other high contrast images you might not be able to use the exposure slider because you will quickly get blown-out highlights. Instead, for a high-contrast images, you can use the shadow adjustment slider to brighten the darker areas of the image.
Fix #2: Adding Contrasts
Many photos lack contrast, which makes them look flat and unattractive. When an image lacks contrast it has a hard time grabbing the attention of the audience. This is often because the scene you captured doesn’t include a full tonal range with both dark shadows and bright highlights.
Note that all raw files will look a bit flat when imported straight from the camera because it hasn’t been processed. Every single raw file needs to be processed to look great. So how to fix it?
Adding contrast will help you get rid the flat look that you find in many images. Many use the contrast slider for adding contrast in Affinity Photo. I prefer to use a curve adjustment tool for more control. Often I’ll start by creating a slight S-Curve and adjust from there. The image will now have brighter highlights and darker shadows. Alternatively, you can also use Nix Color Efex Pro 4 to add contrast (using Pro contrast filter), which often gives excellent results.
Fix #3: Finding the Right Level of Saturation
Your images can become oversaturated due to color profiles in your camera that boost the saturation on capture time. So if your images generally are oversaturated, you should try to deactivate the color profiles in-camera.
It can also be due to applying presets during post-processing that doesn’t fit the particular image. Presets can give you a good starting point for editing your images; however, you should still be aware of not ending up with images that look unrealistic because they are oversaturated.
So how to fix it? If your images are oversaturated, you have to bring down the saturation slider a bit to make it look more natural.
However, if your image lacks saturation, you should begin by using a vibrance adjustment layer, instead of just applying an HSL adjustment right from the start.
A vibrance adjustment layer only boosts color saturation in colors that is not already boosted. The vibrance adjustment layer focuses on boosting colors that need it.
If you do want to apply an HSL adjustment layer, begin doing it selectively. If you think the blue color are bit flat then you can use the HSL adjustment layer to selectively boost the blue color. It’s rarely needed to boost all colors with one slider.
Fix #4: Adding Clarity
Sometimes it’s hard to see the details in the image, or it might look flat and uniform. Adding a bit of clarity can help you bring out the details. You can use it both globally on the image, or as a local adjustment.
I prefer to use it as a local adjustment by adding a mask to it, and as with all adjustment tools, try to be careful not to overdo it. The image will tend to look fake and unrealistic with different artifacts beginning to show up if you push it too far.
Fix #5: Adding sharpness
Lack of sharpness is a common issue in many photos. A lot of sharpness issues are due to poor equipment, but some of it can be fixed in post-processing.
Many photographers sharpen their image only once and at a global level. However, I usually use a three-step sharpening process involving:
- Creative sharpening and
- Output sharpening
The whole idea with pre-sharpening is to get rid of the softness that anti-aliasing filters can cause in a raw file. This gives you a better starting point for the rest of the photo editing workflow. The important point in pre-sharpening is to keep it very subtle.
Creative sharpening is where you sharpen specific areas in the image that you want the audience to pay special attention to. It could be in for instance images with a low depth of the field. In that case, you should only sharpen the subject that is in focus and not the out of focus areas around it.
Finally, there is output sharpening. This takes into account how the image is going to be viewed. The level of sharpening you should apply to your image depends very much on whether you want to use it as an 800-pixel wide image for uploading to social media or if you want to use it as a 30-inch print to hang on your wall.
You can also read more about the specific details of the 3 step sharpening workflow here.
With these 5 essential adjustments in Affinity Photo, you will take care of the most common issues and be able to lift your images to a higher standard, using just a few minutes for each photo you edit. The bonus macros included in our Affinity Photo video course adds these adjustments in one click, where all you have to do it to adjust the settings, so they fit your particular image.