Affin­ity Photo

Pro­fes­sional im­age edit­ing on the iPad

Mac|Life - - APPLE LIFE - Adam Banks

$29.99 From Serif Labs, affin­ity.serif.com Made for iPad Needs iOS 10.3 or later, iPad Pro, iPad Air 2, iPad (2017)

Here, for the first time, is a com­plete pro­fes­sional photo edi­tor on the iPad. Com­pared to its ac­claimed macOS ver­sion, the neat dark in­ter­face has been adapted to save space, with pal­ettes docked into a sin­gle col­umn at the right and tools down the left that change ac­cord­ing to the mode – or “per­sona” – se­lected at the top. Pho­tos can be im­ported from the Pho­tos app or iCloud Drive, but not di­rectly from other apps or Drop­box.

When you open brushes or fil­ters, their con­trols ap­pear at the bot­tom and stay in place while you open other pal­ettes, un­til some­thing over­rides them. That can get con­fus­ing, but it’s vi­tal when, say, you want to watch the his­togram to check the ef­fect of an ad­just­ment. Al­ter­na­tively you can dis­play a vec­torscope or RGB pa­rade – tools more fa­mil­iar to video col­orists – or a power spec­tral den­sity plot, used in sci­en­tific anal­y­sis. You don’t even get all th­ese op­tions in Adobe Pho­to­shop CC, which would cost you the same for two months’ sub­scrip­tion as it does buy­ing Affin­ity Photo out­right. The Fre­quency Sep­a­ra­tion fil­ter

splits out the de­tail in an im­age from the shad­ing so you can edit them as sep­a­rate lay­ers, an es­sen­tial pro por­trait-re­touch tech­nique. Un­like other iOS graph­ics apps, Affin­ity Photo lets you edit images in CMYK or LAB color as well as 8- and 16-bit RGB, and han­dles raw files too, in its De­velop per­sona. Images can be stacked for HDR processing, fo­cus merg­ing, and more.

If that all sounds a bit tech­ni­cal, a batch of video tu­to­ri­als can get you started, and a text-based help guide is avail­able from the main screen. But if you just have sim­ple tasks in mind, all the fil­ters and ad­just­ments you would ex­pect are rea­son­ably ac­ces­si­ble. Lay­ers, masks, and chan­nels work in fa­mil­iar ways, and the Se­lec­tion per­sona of­fers tools like the Smart Se­lec­tion Brush and Re­fine Se­lec­tion to tackle com­plex edges. Lay­ers can take ef­fects such as soft shad­ows, use­ful when you add vec­tor shapes and text. Affin­ity Photo im­ports and ex­ports lay­ered PSD files, among other for­mats, al­though it can’t save clip­ping paths.

A few key tools, such as Lev­els and High­lights/ Shad­ows, didn’t work the way we ex­pected them to, and we missed the abil­ity to in­stantly check the RGB or CMYK value of a pixel. Only one pal­ette can be open at a time, and to close it you have to find and tap its icon again; a “Close the open pal­ette” but­ton would be sim­pler. We’d like more key­board short­cuts and less glitch­ing: A few op­er­a­tions slowed the app to a crawl, and it crashed oc­ca­sion­ally, al­though au­to­matic sav­ing meant we lost hardly any work.

Un­like a mouse or graph­ics tablet, us­ing the touch­screen does risk your fin­ger get­ting in the way, and for that rea­son we found the iPad Pro’s Ap­ple Pen­cil eas­ier to use – but you can man­age with­out it.

THE BOT­TOM LINE. Affin­ity Photo is a tri­umph: an iPad app made for se­ri­ous cre­ative users, with room to get even bet­ter.

The Re­fine Se­lec­tion tool can help to clean up and smooth com­plex out­lines.

Raw pho­tos can be im­ported from most DSLRs, so you can edit with no loss of qual­ity.

Mod­ern fea­tures like Haze Re­duc­tion make it easy to get the best from your pho­tos.

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