(For more resources related to this topic, see here.)
AfterShot Pro has an internal queue of tools that will be used once we are ready to develop the photos. The order in which we use the tools to manipulate the RAW image files does not interfere with this queue. Nor does it make a difference with which tool you start your work.
Just click on the File System tab in AfterShot Pro and navigate to one of your image folders. The thumbnail panel will then display all the images contained in the selected folder. Double-click on one of your photos and start working on your image.
To start with editing I’ve selected a photo of one of my older models of trusty cameras. Here is the photo without any post processing.
Pretty boring, right? So let’s work on it.
Basic editing starts with the Basic Adjustments tool on the Standard tab. Here we will find all the controls for a quick edit. In case we are not satisfied with the results, we can always use the more detailed tools on the other tabs. However, for most images the Basic Adjustments tools will work nicely.
The following two tools can make editing images a lot easier:
AutoLevel: The AutoLevel tool will automatically adjust the black and white points of your image in a way that a fixed percent of the image will be pure black and pure white. You can control the tool with the two edit fields as shown in the preceding screenshot. The left-hand side field sets the percentage of the image to be pure black and the right-hand side field sets the percentage of the image to be pure white.
Using 0,010 for both fields is a sensible starting point for editing. Using a higher percentage for the pure white will usually create unnecessary blown highlights and I can hardly imagine that anyone would want that.
Perfectly Clear: The Perfectly Clear tool claims to automatically lighten your images optimally while at the same time maintaining true color and not introducing any clipping. With the Tint Max and Tint Min settings, it will also remove tints and improve contrast and sharpness. The Tint Off setting will lighten the image optimally while keeping the original colors.
I’ve never been a fan of these tools because I like to have the colors as natural as possible, but perhaps it is just the right tool for your images.
A word of warning, though. A lot of plugins for AfterShot Pro require you to turn off both of these tools to work properly. So if you experience strange behavior while using a plugin, check if the Perfectly Clear and AutoLevel tools are turned on. If they are, turn them off and see if the plugins now work correctly.
White Balance is the next tool in our basic editing workflow. We have the choice of As Shot, Custom Kelvin, Click White, and several other presets. Whatever we select, we can fine tune the image by either using the Temp slider by simply dragging it towards the right-hand side or the left-hand side or by entering a value directly into the input field. Having said that, make sure that when you use the Click White tool you click on an area of the image that has a neutral gray tone. Do not click on pure blacks or pure whites because that would set off the white balance totally. In the case of our example photo, the white balance looks good as it is.
Let’s continue editing the photo. We will discuss the other tools when need arises.
The Sharpening tool of AfterShot Pro is below standard. Nevertheless, you should know how it works.
To turn on the Sharpening tool, simply tick the checkbox. You can change the amount of sharpening with the Amount slider and the sensitivity with the Sensitivity slider. Make sure that you use this tool with a 100% magnification view.
Of course, you can also use the Sharpening slider of the Basic Adjustments tool. It corresponds directly to the Amount slider of the Sharpening tool.
The Amount slider adjusts the overall sharpness of your image while the Sensitivity slider limits the portions of the image that are sharpened. The higher the amount, the sharper the image becomes. Take care though, because you can over-sharpen your image easily if you drag the slider too far. Sensitivity is just the opposite. The higher the sensitivity, the less of your image is affected by the unsharp mask filter that AfterShot Pro internally uses. So, you might need to raise the sensitivity when too much noise or other distractions become visible by raising the amount.
The following screenshot shows a 100% crop after setting the Amount property to 120 and the Sensitivity property to 10. For comparison, only the right-hand side of the image is sharpened. The left-hand side of the image is straight out of the camera without any adjustments. We can use Layers for selective sharpening like this. As you can clearly see, it is easy to oversharpen if you are not careful. Also, artifacts appear quite quickly by using this tool.
If you moved from slides to digital, like me, there might be good news for you. Remember with those 35 mm slides, when you didn’t get the exact frame you wanted, you were in for a fiddling session with small masks or tape later. With digital images, correction of the frame is so much easier. Simply open the Cropping tool in AfterShot Pro.
You have several choices to get the crop you want. For a quick crop, simply select one of the presets in the combobox, like 1.50 | 2:3 | 4×6 | 35mm as shown in the preceding screenshot. Then adjust the crop box by dragging the corners or the sides of the box. Both corners and sides will light up in red upon being dragged.
As you can see, the Cropping tool features the Rule of Thirds indicators that makes cropping a breeze.
In case there is no preset to your liking, simply select Custom. You can then draw your own selection box by clicking on the image and dragging the cursor over it.
Also, you can enter a fixed Aspect or fixed Pixels in the dialog box. The arrow icon will change the box from portrait to landscape and vice versa. The lock icon is a bit tricky. As long as you choose Aspect, it is closed, thus giving you a locked aspect ratio for cropping. When you click on the icon, it changes to an open lock and at the same time the Aspect property switches to the Pixels property. Now you can crop to any size you like without having to care about a fixed aspect ratio. You can, however click on the lock again, thus closing it, and fix the selected pixel ratio. If you have entered your own settings, click on the plus icon to save these settings for later image edits. Once you are happy with your frame simply click on Done to close the dialog box and to complete the cropping.