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Hi. I'm new to Affinity Photo and has been testing it out for a few days now.
One of the areas that interest me is the HDR merge, as it allows me to do picture with a colour quality and contrast range I haven't been able to before. I've been testing it as I usually do, that is to give it a nearly impossible task and see where it breaks. And sure enough, it has its limitations.

Yesterday I went with my wife to the beach, and with semi-cloudy weather and a low evening sun reflecting in the water I saw it as a perfect opportunity to test HDR. With my wife whittling about with her own creative ideas, I tried to capture her and the surrounding sea as best as I can. Or the low flying swallows against he sun. The problem being of course that a Sony a6000 rattling away the best it could, couldn't possibly capture everything that moved about without causing Affinity Photo to get royally confused.

In this environment, ghosting becomes a serious issue. Even when you let Affinity do aligning and ghost removal, and even when you turn on the "remove shadows" function. You need to turn on the clone brush tool, as advised in your fine tutorials, and go at it.
The problem is you need to choose the right picture as your base and when all the movement in the picture makes Affinity Photo (hereby called AP) confused about what moves and what is still, the pictures aren't in sync. That's what makes the ghosting issue first hand, and that's what making it difficult to paint properly. Half the time you can't paint with one picture close to another, because the sync problem goes the wrong way and every time you get close to the edge, you get the edge before you really need it. (And the other side of the edge is too dark (or bright) to be painted with that picture.)

I guess the proper solution would be more image recognition and morphing the images making up a merge to fit. But that would be difficult to do, computing wise. And I guess you would need the more manual approach anyway: To be able to sync up the pictures so they match. And being able to use masks to define what sync to make for that part of the picture.

Not only would that make it possible to make well synced pictures in difficult conditions, even if it would mean a lot of manual work. It could serve as a base for a more automatic approach for morphing and syncing pictures. The ideal would of course be to have automatic routines define a sync you could later manually adjust, and this would be a roadmap towards that.

I would also like to see menus such as "Open new HDR merge" use the settings last used instead of going back to defaults all the time. I want to at least try to remove ghosts automatically and see how it goes, but going directly into tone mapping is a complete goner for pictures like these. It needs to be clone painted first. And that's two clicks per picture that could be saved.
More than that, I often experience crashes. Not being able to save in tone mapping mode is a risk I don't want to live with, but at least being able to save before going into tone mapping has saved me more than once. I just wish AP could remember the photos going into the merge when saving, as you sometimes want to do further editing with the clone brush. In other cases, pictures can cause AP to crash always, so you don't get much of a chance.

Another thing that could be fixed is, I believe, with Windows only.
AP does a lot of file reading, and with a proper UNIX system at the bottom, the system caches files in memory so that they don't have to be read from disk so often. Windows doesn't do this, or at least it does so very poorly. The result is, the processors constantly has to wait for disk reads. And with slow, old-fashioned disks such as mine, this cuts performance to half. If you, for the Windows version, could cache the files being read to memory, or at least not read them from disk that often, it would improve performance. For long running jobs, it would also be a help to do things in the background.
That would mean you could work on another picture while the first were chugging along. Not something of major importance, but there it's said.

As others have noted, it would also be nice to combine bracketing features such as HDR panoramas (often used as backgrounds for 3D rendered images), focus bracketed HDR pictures of landscapes, and of course focus bracketed HDR panoramas. (Anything more?)


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