How Affinity Photo software makes life easier for photographers

Who wouldn’t want editing your images to be easier? Here are 10 ways that the new image-editing kid on the block, Affinity Photo, can save you time and improve your workflow.

Timothy Poulton’s “Bloodsport”, winner of an Affinity Photo contest

In case you haven’t heard of Serif’s Affinity Photo software, this new photo editing tool for creative professionals was launched in summer 2015 to great fanfare—while its low price and lack of subscription are noteworthy, they definitely aren’t the only things raising eyebrows.

Here are 10 features and power tools you’ll find in the software that will help you unlock the potential of your images…

1. It’s fast. Really fast

Affinity Photo from MacAffinity on Vimeo.

Completely new and built from the ground up over the last 5 years, Affinity Photo understands the needs of today’s photographers and makes everything feel fluid and fast.

It takes advantage of multiple cores, advanced custom processing and memory management, and key OS X technologies, with fresh eyes on an improved workflow.

Everything’s live, the way it should be, with no need to click Apply or OK to see your changes; it all happens in real time. Try it for 10 days for FREE; you’ll probably love it!

2. RAW and regular editing in one app

Affinity Photo – Raw – Developing Images from MacAffinity on Vimeo.

Opening a Raw image in Affinity Photo automatically opens the Develop persona. Personas are dedicated workspaces for key tasks that give you the tools you need without clutter (current personas are Develop, Photo, Liquify, Export, with more coming in future).

The Develop persona lets you apply lens and exposure correction, all the usual Raw processing edits like white balance and noise reduction, with controls like brushed and gradient overlays.

When you’re happy you can pass the image into the Photo persona for further editing, and then at the touch of a button you can always bring your photo (not just Raw images) back in to the Develop persona for more tweaks.

3. Non-destructive filters, adjustments, effects

Affinity Photo – Live Filter Layers from MacAffinity on Vimeo.

You’ll be familiar with applying an adjustment to your image as an editable layer—double clicking the adjustment layer to modify it rather than undoing/redoing any steps.

You may have also converted a layer to a Smart Filter in the past. No need for that messing about in Affinity Photo! Affinity Photo handles Filter Layers in the same way as Adjustment Layers, just add one via the Layers panel and customise the settings, double clicking any time to edit—in real time of course.

Affinity Photo – Blend Modes from MacAffinity on Vimeo.

While you’d expect things like Blend Modes to be editable any time, you can also see them applied instantly. No more waiting. Just scroll.

4. Blend ranges

Affinity Photo – Blend Ranges from MacAffinity on Vimeo.

Blend ranges give you advanced control over how layers blend with each other, whether some parts of the luminance channel are more or less opaque than others, or whether specific channels have advanced opacity settings applied.

In Affinity Photo you can set multiple blend values across multiple points in multiple channels, and choose whether the blend changes are linear or smoother curves. Hello, cool effects!

5. Live previews, live before-and-after

Affinity Photo – Split View from MacAffinity on Vimeo.

To see changes live in a split view apply a filter from the Filters menu, adjust the settings, then click the Split View button. Drag the splitter left and right to see your changes in a slick before-and-after mode—which is also available in the Develop persona on the top toolbar.

So live previews, what gives? Take the simple example of painting on a mask. The area under the brush nozzle previews how your image will look as you paint transparency or visibility into the mask, so you’ll better know how to edit to achieve what you want.

6. Native vectors and clipping

Affinity Photo – Vector Clipping from MacAffinity on Vimeo.

Vector art is best tackled by Serif’s Affinity Designer if you want the best tool for that kind of work, though you’ll also find vector tools in Affinity Photo, ideal for tasks like clipping.

With vector and raster processing built in from the start, Affinity Photo can also natively open and export SVG, EPS and PDF files in addition to the expected PSD, PNG, JPG and other raster formats.

7. Advanced layers and masks

Affinity Photo – Layers Nesting from MacAffinity on Vimeo.

There’s a lot you can do with layers and masks! For some they’re a dark art that unearths mystical effects, and for others advanced layer management is the best way to meticulously organise a project.

Whatever your needs, you’ll find layers and masks more useful in Affinity Photo than elsewhere. Layers are of course draggable, hideable, lockable, groupable and other –ables, including nestable, as shown in our video.

Affinity Photo – Layer Masks from MacAffinity on Vimeo.

Just like clipping shapes, adjustments, and filter layers, masks can easily be dragged onto a layer thumbnail to apply as a child and limit the extent of the masking, keeping the layer stack easy to understand.

And you can apply more than one mask to a layer, too. Similar flexibility is available for channels, have a play!

8. Saveable history

Affinity Designer – Save History from MacAffinity on Vimeo.

As if sliding back through over 8000 history steps like liquid magic wasn’t enough, imagine being able to go back in time on old documents too.

Opening a retouching project months later and seeing exactly what editing steps you took? Then branching the edits in a new direction? Even if someone else had originally retouched the file on another Mac? This is the new reality with Affinity Photo.

Loads of tasks are non-destructive so you don’t need to use Undo, but when you do want to use your editing history it can be saved with files for future reference.

9. Frequency Separation made easy

Affinity Photo – Frequency Separation from MacAffinity on Vimeo.

This method of retouching photos, separating the texture of an image from the tone and colour to smooth regions while retaining detail, is easy in Affinity Photo.

With fewer steps and no scripts, just choose Frequency Separation from the Filters menu.

10. Redefining how a suite should work

Affinity Photo – Interworking from MacAffinity on Vimeo.

As clever as Affinity Photo is, it has an equally smart brother with a complementary skill set for vector illustration, particularly useful for UI and web design. Like many siblings, Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer look pretty similar and behave in similar ways, and yet each has its strengths.

To make your workflow the way it should be, Affinity Designer and Affinity Photo can open each other’s files, natively. And see any saved History. And undo steps carried out in the other app.

And edit objects or effects created uniquely in the other app. And this awesome behaviour will continue when there’s an Affinity publishing app late in 2016. See more of the potential by browsing all the Affinity videos here.

11. Bonus entry—there’s more on the way!
The Affinity devs are promising some juicy new features and improvements for the next big (free!) update due late 2015. Don’t hold them to a specific date though—quality comes ahead of deadlines!

You can look forward to aligned layer stacks, an impressive new Haze Removal filter, fully customisable keyboard shortcuts and plenty more yet to be revealed.

Get Affinity Photo for Mac
With no subscription and promises of free updates to mid-2017, Affinity Photo is available now on the Mac App Store for just £39.99/$49.99/€49.99.

The app has some serious support already, achieving #1 photography app in over 100 countries after launch, Apple’s Editors’ Choice, and amazing 5-star reviews.