Veni, Vidi, Vici

Referencing Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer applications with the expression “Veni, Vidi, Vici” (I Came, I Saw, I Conquered) is something I could have done since I started to use the first Beta versions of both. The impact they created was so positive that even at this stage I started to implement them in my workflow. But before I get there, I want to share a bit of my journey and how Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer are today my programs of choice for image and design works, respectively.

My first contact with this area happened back in the 90’s. In photography the options were few and almost all the choices fell into Adobe Photoshop. Mine was no different. In terms of design and vector work I used Corel Draw, FreeHand and Adobe Illustrator as well as other more specialized applications for specific work. I stopped using Corel Draw because it no longer had support for Mac and I saw in FreeHand a better option for the kind of work I was doing. I stopped using FreeHand because it was somehow “annihilated” by Adobe, which was in competition with Illustrator. So I started to use Adobe Illustrator that is without a doubt the best company for Photoshop. In the meantime I also started to use InDesign.

Complex effects on Affinity Photo for a tutorial.

Therefore is easy to see that for several years I was a daily user of various Adobe programs and the truth is that during that time I only had good things to say (other than having stopped FreeHand). Without competition at the time, they built a reputation that I consider deserved and have easily became the reference in the market, something that still exists and that can be easily seen by the widespread use of the word Photoshop even by people who have never worked with it, and also by the requirements in employment proposals of the area where the know-how regarding how to use it is constant.

But this supremacy in the market presented some risks, risks both for users and for Adobe. Faced with this situation we ended up feeling the innovation we were used to seemed to be stagnant. With each new update (payable) we did not see anything really innovative. I must admit that we might not needed anything new, but it was the market itself that pushed innovation and new ways of doing things. The growing movement of photography and consequent photographers also required new tools, many of them to correct the photographic errors of the most distracted or less capable.

Catalogue in Affinity Designer (still waiting for Affinity Publisher).

By this time Adobe decides to change its policy in terms of prices and updates, now it was necessary to subscribe and pay monthly a certain amount that varies by the applications we use. I must be honest and say that for me this was the end of the road. And I was not alone, many received this news with disapproval. But where to go? What alternatives did I have? Many have settled with it and adhered to this new plan, others have stood still in time using CS5 or CS6 versions and a third group has begun to look for alternatives. I was briefly in the second group to quickly start looking for alternatives. Why would I be stuck with a company with a policy I didn’t identify myself with…

Luckily and in a short period of time I started to hear rumors of a new program that was shaking the market and raising high expectations, Affinity Photo. As soon as it was possible I downloaded the Beta version and started testing it in my usual workflow. It did not take much to be convinced so I started to use it in all my work even if it was still in Beta. I did not saw major performance/stability issues or lack of functionalities to feel that I needed to wait more. Shortly after that I start using Affinity Designer. Both applications are more than well implemented now and this is also evident in the many awards they have won.

In Affinity Photo preparing a set of logo mock-ups. Available soon.

For my kind of work I found a more than viable alternative both for Photoshop and Illustrator. We are not dealing with applications that do everything and in the same way as their counterparts. It’s true that some things are missing, but it is also true that in most cases I managed to find a way of doing things differently to achieve the same results. There are aspects where they are much better and others where they need to grow a little more. I must also recognize that lately Adobe seemed to have “woken up” and has presented very interesting news in its applications but its monthly subscription policy is still something that is not for me. Nevertheless I’m more than happy with Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer so there is no going back.

Working with these two new apps also helped me to let go of some apathy and have a new approach and a rejuvenated creative vision to all my work. The impact of both on my workflow was so positive that I decided to adopt them in the workshops I usually do, in particular Affinity Photo over Photoshop. This decision was not easy and presented a certain risk because people tend to ask for training in Photoshop. But I’m happy with the choice I made and today I’m more and more willing to show there are excellent alternatives to the Adobe universe. With this decision I also began to put into practice an old idea, to publish articles and tutorials on how we can use both Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer for the same creative purposes of those to which most are still accustomed in the parallel world of Photoshop and Illustrator.

Last steps for a new logo in Affinity Designer.

For this reason I invite you all to follow me on my Youtube channel and here in my Blog where you can see not only the articles and tutorials I have already published but those I’ll share in the future on a regular basis. This is the best way to see from my point of view and in more detail the capabilities of Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer, the ones that are the foundation of my statement, they arrived, have seen and have already conquered. I’m going to make a sincere effort to share what I’ve learned (and continue to learn) and what I’ve been discovering in these fantastic applications, specially because parallel to my passion for photography I have a passion for teaching.

As a conclusion I would like to thank the entire team and company that are behind the development of both apps, Serif. Their dedication for providing us with such a professional alternative and the support that is felt in particular in the official Forum is worthy of mention and recognition. I just leave a note that I’m patiently waiting for Affinity Publisher…

See you

Affinity Photo
Affinity Designer
Corel Draw

To Edit or Not to Edit?

Recently I was planning a photo to be the base for a future article, and I decided to include my eldest son in the role of photographer (since I was the model…). As I was explaining the idea and the concept I get this question from him: “But is that not faking?” This genuine reaction led to a constructive talk about whether or not to edit a photograph. By the way, the idea was to create an image in studio and then move it to a different composition in order to tell a story.

But returning to the old question, old because it’s one of those questions that brings more debate to the table and that more consequences has caused, sometimes not very positive for the authors or the photos in question. Is it okay to edit/change an image? There are photographers on both sides of the answer. But the debate this question as generated often make us lose sight of what really matters. Whether or not to edit an image (regardless of the amount) is not the real issue. What is really important is if we are deliberately “faking” a photograph in order to deceive/adulterate reality and there fore our audience.

Editing/retouching has always occurred in one level or another. Even before the digital age, the editing process of an image was always present, whether in the choice of a filter or film with certain characteristics or in the laboratory. Retouching always followed the evolution of photography.
With the emergence of computers this process went to another level, but be deceived if you think it was necessary to wait to 1988 when the Knoll brothers released commercially Photoshop 1.0. Long before “wonders”  were already happening in image retouching. Check this video.

Today’s digital reality goes beyond this type of editing and it’s been easily showing one that does not exist. On the other side is the traditional lab techniques of which even the greatest masters make use in their photographs. Here and there we come across examples of this as the following link is a proof of.

Marked Up Photographs Show How Iconic Prints Were Edited in the Darkroom

At the same time there are cases of photos that have been “modified” without the knowledge of the general public. Not that there was any real intention of hiding this fact (although this also happens), but this reality leaves us many times with uncertainties. It may be because we faithfully believed what they showed us or because we never imagined that photographer A or B could do it. We can also have an idea about an artist or work that doesn’t always correspond to reality. The truth is that we are caught by surprise. The latest and hottest case is of the famous Afghan girl (National Geographic cover). You can find out more at the following link:

Eyes of the Afghan Girl: A Critical Take on the ‘Steve McCurry Scandal’

Personally I’ve never had problems with editing on a smaller or larger scale. And since I shoot in RAW, I always need to edit my images to some degree. However, based on my background, I’ve also defended we should be able to achieve the photograph we imagine at the time of shooting. Example of this are the following two photos (the first one that had a simple black-and-white conversion, and the second where I adjusted the values of brightness and saturation) whose “effects” were achieved at the time I click the shutter:

I’m all against the common “I fix it later in Photoshop” but completely in favour of the artistic freedom that these and other tools allow us. In conscience we must be true to ourselves and change the question “Should I edit this image?” to “What message do I want to convey with this photo?”.
There’s a huge difference between being false and being creative and it’s up to each photographer/artist to decide where one ends and the other begins. What do you think of this question? Is it pertinent and it’s something that shapes your work and felling about photography?
The featured photo in this article was edited to convert it to black and white using various localized adjustments. Does it change the reality? Do you think it’s fake?…