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11/18/19 06:01 PM
My family and I went on an Alaska cruise this year to celebrate my dad's 85th birthday. The highlight excursion of the trip was my visit to Admiralty National Monument. As a nature photographer, I think we can all identify with that strong desire to photograph that iconinc image - you know the one - 'that photo' of the grizzly bear eating the salmon out of the waterfall. The one I am looking for, of course, may also incorporate the iconic images of a flying eagle in the background with two other adult grizzlys high-fiving each other while a third juggles salmon heads in the background. Don't ask me why, let's just all agree that I have a very rich fantasy life. I also think that National Geographic might begin to take me seriously if I can get that juggling bear.

The trip to Admiralty Island was initially recommended by my sister-in-law as a 'must thing' to do when we reached Juneau Alaska. The cost of the trip to go to the Pack Creek Bear Viewing area was 699.00 per person through the cruise ship. This meant that for my wife and I to go, this was going to cost approximately 1400 for a five hour viewing. It is important to note that the five hour viewing time does not actually guarantee any bear sightings. You are only afforded an opportunity to go and stand somewhere where there have been known sightings in the past. As my sister-in-law pointed out, the trip to the island, with all its amazing scenery is worth the experience all on its own, so as long as you go there..however, let's be honest...you want to see those sock-eye heads getting juggled.

Given the $1400 price tag, we initially demurred - as it was such an incredible extravegance. The 5 hour outting would almost be as expensive as the actual cruise. Fortunately, my sister-in-law is a super-smart egg and suggested that we look outside of the cruise line and make our own travel arrangements. Going directly to the National Parks website, we were able to get passes to be on the island for $50 a person. They only had 6 available - and we purchased four of them. We were also able to rent a small plane directly for $750 in total. By doing it ourselves, we were able to book the entire trip for four people for $900.00 - still not small change, however it yielded a savings of approximately $2,700.00 over purchasing directly from the cruise line.

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NWP Product Reviews
10/29/19 05:51 PM
A Second Review of Affinity's Photoshop Alternative

by Richard Strange

Affinity is a post-processing program similar to the Photoshop/Lightroom Suite only much less expensive, but, more difficult to understand. The preset choices for jpegs in good digital cameras appear nice, and are usually adequate for most uses, especially at low resolutions. But these jpegs do not have the same data as a RAW file. The raw files are just that, raw data, that must be processed in one of these programs to provide that additional data in a finished product that will reflect the image you perceived when shooting. Providing better distant detail, elements in your shadows and the ability to provide color combinations you think you remember, are necessary for those who want to maximize their ability to produce a first rate finished product. Affinity also includes the tools necessary to exercise your artistic license when your conditions were poor and the image needs a bit of improvement. Ultimately, the quality of your photography starts with the quality of the lens and the CCD in your Camera. All pixels are not created equal. Just because a camera claims to have a high resolution, you are not assured of the kind of quality necessary for the serious photographer. But still, much to my chagrin being an old film guy, it takes post processing to unlock the potential of the digital image. Even if you don’t shoot RAW, and have only jpegs, these programs will still process the data much better than it appears from the camera presets. So, don’t despair if you haven’t been shooting RAW images, it’s just a good idea in the future to do so on those images you think may be special.

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Olympic National Park - Original Image

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Olympic National Park - Affinity Processing 1 - This is what I actually saw, using Affinity Photo the way I mentioned.

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Olympic National Park - Affinity Processing 2 - What I think I see when I am over-saturating - They are really - really - green.

I am not an expert on post processing, nor will I cover anywhere near the power of this new tool, but let me give you some help in getting started. For the sake of safety, I created an Affinity Processing File and copied the RAW images into it. NEVER process your original as mistakes or lack of understanding of the software can cause you to accidently replace it, and it’s gone forever. Always work on a duplicate. Open your first RAW file in Affinity Photo. If you are opening a jpeg, skip to the next step for Tone Mapping. Click on the Blue Develop tab near the upper left corner. You are now ready to work your image in Affinity. The first thing I do is to duplicate the image in a working layer by clicking on Duplicate in the Layer Drop Down Menu. Just below the Edit Menu and to the right is an icon composed of vertical colored lines appearing as an hour glass on its side. This is the Tone Mapping Icon. Click on the tone mapping Icon. It will take several seconds for it to process the data. With very large files it can take a couple minutes. Several Preset choices will appear on the left of your screen. It is okay to switch through them and play, but understand, they are a starting point. I am generally interested in bringing up the detail in my Landscape and Wildlife images, so that is where I begin. Click the “Detailed” preset on the left. Then on the right pull the Tone Compression slider from 100% to 5%. Sometimes I initially take it to zero. The Local Contrast can usually remain at 40 unless areas look grainy. If so, lower the Local Contrast as much as needed to reduce the grain. Add some color saturation and intensity to restore the color you remember. I usually start with 10% for each and sometimes will find 15% or so necessary on the Saturation. Experiment with adding 1% or 2 % contrast. This will often be helpful but be careful not to compromise your detail in the highlights and shadows. If the image is a bit too dark, add back some of the Tone Compression at this point rather than rather than brightening. You may then need to re-adjust the saturation. Once you’ve worked the upper layer then press the Apply tab, upper left. You can now turn this new layer on and off to compare with the initial Image you started with. I often find my preference will be to pull the opacity of the upper layer down to between 50 and 70% prior to merging down in the Layer Menu. I have a tendency to over saturate sometimes. But I am getting better. Sometimes I erase areas in the skies where I preferred them prior to adjusting. Other times I will duplicate and reprocess the background layer and erase and blend as I need. There are many other adjustments you can play with, I recommend you watch some of the instruction videos, but this will get you started nicely.


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Original

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Affinity Processing

The last step will be to save your work. This is confusing. Go to the File Dropdown and click “Export”. On the Popup Box make sure it is set to JPEG Best Quality and click Export again. On this Menu I add affinity after the file name so I can quickly determine the file has been processed. I then go to the Document Dropdown Menu and click Resize Document. This is for email or Internet Images. I change the horizontal value to 1200. If you are worried about people stealing your low-resolution images use 864 or lower. If you want the detail to show up, stay at 1200 and consider a Watermark. Go through the Export Process again and on this file add ecopy after affinity. You don’t have to use this Protocol, it just works well for me.



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Original

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Affinity Processing

I repeat that Affinity provides a significant number of Videos to teach you how to unlock some of its very powerful tools. For example, I have created my own Preset for my Teton Autumn Images that works well and saves time. I also have one for Birds with a little more detail. This really speeds up my processing. But with each preset you use, check to see if it needs minor adjustments on each image. I find the Teton Autumn preset works for most of my Landscapes, but sometimes minor adjustments are needed to Local Contrast or Saturation. But it always seems to be a good starting point. I have not yet learned how to use the Batch Processing for them, that’s for another day.

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Original

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Affinity


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Original

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Affinity

Just to be clear, it doesn't enhance detail that isn't already there. It allows you to bring up the data that's already been captured in the data. Don’t be mislead by what you see on TV.

My Teton Autumn Preset:
5% Tone Compression
35% Local Contrast
15% Saturation
10% Intensity
1% Contrast

You can easily make adjustments to the Default Presets then save your own Presets for specific kinds of Images. Name them, and reuse on future images.

[Linked Image]
Original

[Linked Image]
Affinity

I don’t want to go too far with this as I am a beginner at this and more experienced Affinity users may find better ways. With that said I would like to address a useful technique I sometimes use with Wildlife, and occasionally on Landscapes, especially with older, lower resolution images. After duplicating the base layer and making your adjustments on the Tone Mapping Layer, rather than initially using opacity, go to your eraser tool and erase around the subject removing the background. Oftentimes, the background will look grainy or noisy with the added detail from either of the Contrast adjustments used or from too much Tone Compression. The Erasing Tool should have the Hardness set near zero to assure it is feathered on the edge helping to blend the layers. This adjustment is found to the right of Width and Opacity. I also do this when using the Rubber Stamp or Cloning Tool. This erasing does not have to be exact and often it is useful to turn the lower layer off to continue and back on to review the progress or end result. Do this in several steps as you can redo your mistakes by going back one step in the History on the lower right. If you do too much in any given step, you are begging to go back quite a way, and wasting a lot of work when you do make an error. These two layers may blend well as they are, or use the opacity to blend to your taste.
Lastly, be careful when closing your Images. Once your work is complete and you close the Image, you will get a prompt indicating your Document has been modified, and asking if you want to save the changes. Click on “No”. You have already saved your working changes when you “Exported” them with a new name. It will be saved using your last modifications if you click “Yes” instead of “No”. You want to leave the Original Image file in its original state in case you want to reprocess it at a later time. When you get better or have different preferences, or choose to use a little more of an artistic approach in the future you’ll be glad you did.

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Original

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Affinity


[Linked Image]
Original

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Affinity

[Linked Image]
Original

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Affinity
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