The extent to which photographers use computer software to improve their work is a subject of intense debate, (see FAQs). However, even those who prefer ‘to get it right in the camera’ will occasionally need to correct the assumptions made by the software in their cameras. The vast majority of photographers use Adobe Photoshop but this product is prohibitively expensive and is only available by monthly subscription. The cheaper version, Adobe Elements, is seriously limited in its functionality and Adobe Lightroom is not really a photo editing program. Here are a few options which you might like to try. The club does not endorse them but we do have members who use them regularly.
SERIFThis company has a suite of programs which can be used for photo manipulation and display. They are fully integrated so if you can use one you will find the others have much the same functionality. Any Affinity file can be opened in any Affinity product. Serif is a British based company that has been supplying image manipulation and design programs for many years. Over the last few years it has compleytely rewritten its programs under the banner of ‘Affinity’ to modern professional standards and for use on both MacOS and Windows. Prices are very affordable and full licence ownership comes with purchase; i.e. there is no monthly subscription!
Affinity PhotoChosen as Apple’s ‘App of the Year’ for several years, and ‘Best Imaging Software’ 2016 by the Technical Image Press Association, Affinity Photo is a professional photo editing tool with all the power you’ll ever need. Live retouch tools work in real time and its speed means there’s no waiting to see your results. Non-destructive editing, raw processing and end-to-end colour management are standard, so Affinity Photo has all the quality necessary to make beautiful photographs spring to life. The user manual is a structured set of video tutorials. The current price for new users is just under £50. Watch out for special offers; it is sometimes offered at a 50% discount.
Affinity DesignerThis is a fully-fledged professional graphic design application which works seamlessly in both vector and raster format. Whilst Affinity Photo has all the features needed for photo image processing, Designer is useful if you’re a budding Adrian or Jane Lines. The user manual is a structured set of video tutorials. The current price for new users is just under £50.
Affinity PublisherWhilst this is a desktop publishing suite it is useful for creating photo montages as images can be accessed through Designer for further manipulation without leaving the program. You can also use it to publish your photo books by creating pdf files. The user manualis a structured set of video tutorials. Below is a photo book cover made by one of our members using Affinity Publisher.
HUGIN PanoramaProbably the best stitching software available for creating panoramas from several images. It will stitch automatically, correcting for colour and exposure differences and will cope with multiple RAW conversions and HDR images. Most importantly it’s free! Most high end photo editing suites now have a stitching module but sometimes they struggle to match edges exactly. Hugin will match anything that’s matchable but it can be a bit technical to use.
RAW THERAPEEIf you don’t have a RAW file converter or you want something better than your current converter then this shareware is about the most advanced on the market. RAW files are camera specific so check on the supplier’s web site to make sure your camera is included.
ADOBE DNG ConverterIf you have a new camera which takes RAW images you will probably find that your photo editing software will not support the file types. RAW files have different algorithms for each camera, even if they are from the same manufacturer. It is sometimes possible to get a free update for your converter but suppliers refuse to update more than one or two releases back. To upgrade can cost you several hundred pounds. A simple and free solution is to download Adobe DNG (digital negative) converter. This converts RAW files from any camera into a format that can then be recognised by any RAW converter. It is regularly updated for new cameras. Club members can help you with this.
Photomatix HDR ProcessingHDR or High Dynamic Range processing is explained on the FAQ page. Many photo editing suites, including Photoshop and Affinity have an HDR facility. However, for ease of use and quality of results, Photomatix is the product that receives the most accolades from users.
PLUGINSPlugins are suites of programs designed to operate seamlessly from within a photo editing application such as Photoshop or Affinity. They can be used to enhance contrast, adjust individual colours, add textures, emulate historical film grain, etc. They are usually accessed via the ‘filters’ menu of the editing program and need to be linked to that program after installation. The best known are Topaz Labs and the Nik Collection by DxO. They can be very expensive.