Corel's AfterShot Pro 3 is the latest version of Corel's raw editing software package.
I need to admit that when I first tried out the original version of the program I was somewhat underwhelmed. It wasn't that it didn't produce great results - my problem was two fold.
In the first place, I admit that I really didn't understand the product and secondly I was a Photoshop and PaintShop Pro snob.
Now it's probably a good idea to examine your firmly held beliefs from time to time because they may not always serve you.
With AfterShot Pro my erroneous belief that only Photoshop or PaintShop Pro should be used with an image was destroyed by a talk from a guy who is a real life Photoshop guru - an expert through and through.
What he said in the course of the talk was that software like Lightroom and by extension, AfterShot, are true photographers packages and that the tools and techniques in Photoshop and PaintShop Pro are far more complicated than necessary.
His talk got me thinking and when I got home I tested out his theory - and you know what - the great points that he made were supported by my testing.
A bit of history
Before becoming AfterShot the product was a well known and popular application for raw conversion and image management know as Bibble. Bibble's superpower was flat out processing speed and multi-platform (MAC, Windows and Linux) capabilities.
In 2012 Corel purchased Bibble and have continued to improve, develop and expand the product and now it's version 3 which includes some great new features.
The main competitor is Adobe Lightroom, a very well known, very well established product with a large and loyal following, both amateurs and professionals.
Rather than get into a long and complicated discourse on how the two programs compare, click here for a really great comparison.
Suffice to say if you're looking for a fast and effective image management and modification product then AfterShot may be exactly what you're looking for.
This is a screen capture of the primary ASP 3 main window. It may look somewhat intimidating but if I can figure it out then you can as well. Let's take a closer look at the screen ...
Library, File System and Output
It isn't necessary to use the Library tab but it can be very useful.
All of your photos can be imported into the Library and then stored in catalogs. The Catalogs can be such things as vacations, special events - anything that's important to you.
What this will become is a fabulous and comprehensive photo management system that is searchable in a variety of different ways.
This is useful when you've got an enormous number of images because you can search them according to a variety of different criteria ...
The small grey arrow at the top of the panel will close down or open up the Library/File System/Output tab. The keyboard shortcut to Hide/Un-hide the left panel is L.
If you're a Windows user then the File System tab will be totally familiar.
Everything on your computer is visible in a tree structure.
If you're the type of photographer who takes some shots and reviews them before they end up at their ultimate destination then this is probably the best view for you while the Library is better for archiving.
If you've been downloading your images into the Windows file structure for years then perhaps you want to stay with the familiar.
This tab is exactly what the name implies - you can select how the file(s) will be output.
The choices are either Printing or Batch Output.
As you can see, there are a variety of different options available for each option.
The first three icons (from the left) are the views - Thumbnail, Standard and Image.
Thumbnail fills the active area with thumbnails, the Standard view has a row of thumbnail and the selected image in the Image area and in the Image view just the active image is visible (no thumbs).
Here are the three views (without the right side adjustment panel).
The "Name" field and the arrow are sorting options. Images can be sorted according to one of thirteen different options, including a Custom Option.
The next option is a Filter that allows one to sort based on ratings (Stars, Colours or Flags).
The last icon on the top right is the "Edit with ..." link.
The stars and the color swatches are rating and sorting icons. Rating stars can be applied to any image and different colors can be applied to different categories of image - these ratings are entirely up to the user.
I cannot imagine anything more useful if you've got a huge number of images and you've taken the time to rate and categorize your images.
Next up are the Flags - the first is to Flag as a pick and then Flag as a reject. The third Flag clears the Flags.
The little arrows - rotate clockwise or counter clockwise.
The first icon and Drop Down refer to the Layers that are available in ASP 3.
The Magnifying Glass allows for up close inspection of an image. Simply click the magnifying glass and pan around.
The little right facing arrow brings up the Slideshow and all of the options available. The Slideshow will cycle through all of the images in the folder according the the criteria you set. It's quite neat and makes it easy to view all of your images without clicking to open and closing them one-by-one.
The last little arrows are Full Screen.
The set of tools on the bottom left of the screen are ...
These are your Zoom and Fit Tools - they are self-explanatory.
Bottom Right - RGB
The first two numbers and the color swatch is the position of the cursor and the color under the cursor.
The next three numbers are the RGB values under the cursor.
The next icon is Soft Proofing - it allows you to see how the end print will be on-screen rather than using a sheet or paper.
Next up is the Toggle Multi-Image view followed by the Lock Position and Zoom button.
The last icon is the Clipping Warning icon. Values below the Shadow Warning level and above the Highlight Warning level will be highlighted when Clipping Warning is enabled.
The right side of the panel is where the majority of the adjustments will be made. From top to bottom, the different adjustment modes are ...
Each one of these panels has multiple, effective adjustments available. They will be discussed in other tutorials.
The Basic Adjustment panel provides all of the most commonly used and understood image adjustments.
It's quite possible that you could use this panel exclusively in ASP 3 because it's so comprehensive.
There's a lot contained in this panel including both a curves and a levels adjustment.
Below is a great Color Correction, Color Balance and White Balance
The Tone panel lets you access controls that let you fine-tune image tone. All the tools are organized in the Exposure section.
Many of the same controls are also included in the Standard tab.
The Detail tab on the Tools panel lets you access controls that let you ...
The Metadata tab contains tools that let you view and edit the metadata associated with your images.
This metadata includes camera data, EXIF and IPTC data, as well as information that you add to your files, such as keywords, star ratings, and captions.
The controls are organized into three sections: Metadata, Keywords, and Keyword Sets.
Make your own watermark - which is an identifying image or pattern - for your images.
Select your camera profile, choose plugins (free and paid) and buy one, or all, of the different presets available.
All of your plugins live here.
Send To External Editor
After you've finished working your image in ASP 3 Pro there may be some additional modifications you want to do in Paint Shop Pro.
In File > Preferences > External Editor you can set Paint Shop as your preferred external editor (or any other program for that matter). When it's set then a small clickable icon will show up at the top lefty of the screen - like this ...
Click the icon and your current file will open in Paint Shop Pro!
If this comprehensive photo editing program seems like something that may be of interest to you - here's a link to the free trial from Corel.
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