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I have a previous experience in Capture One (C1) and the shadow recovery there is very easy. Let me give you an example. Here is the initial state of a RAW photo in C1:

C1 - original

If I want to see the figure's face (torso in general) without loosing (overexposing) the background, all I have to do is to crank up the Shadows slider to 100% and I will get the following image:

C1 - recovered

I can definitely play around and make the photo look better, but the main goal (shadow recovery) is done.

Now, in Affinity Photo, the initial RAW file looks like this (which is a bit darker than the one of C1, but I do not see an issue there):

AP - original

If I increase the Shadows slider to 100%, it just turns black colors to gray and this looks absolutely awful:

AP - recovered

All I could come up with was to increase exposure and brightness and decrease the blackpoint. I also increased the contrast a bit otherwise the image looked too washed out, and I decreased the highlights by 100% so one can see something in the background.

enter image description here

Still, the image does not look as good, the figure is darker than the one on the C1 result and the background is lighter. I cannot increase the exposure and decrease the highlights more because highlights are already on -100%.

  • instead of bringing up the exposure, just move the black point. – user39557 Aug 13 '17 at 16:51
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    "How can I recover shadows in Affinity Photo?" Obviously, not as well as you can with C1. – Michael C Aug 13 '17 at 19:45
  • @cegaton moving the black point grays out the dark parts bringing their contrast close to nothing. Increasing the contrast mostly brings the image to the previous state. – Uko Aug 14 '17 at 6:31
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The way I have done it in the past when I wanted some subtle highlight improvement is to create a mask of the part of the image you want to adjust and add this as a separate layer.

You can then adjust this layer and merge the two layers back together.

Affinity Photo has some very good instructional videos on YouTube. This one may help with masks.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-AzpS9flNwU

Before

Before

After

After

There are also shadow/highlight adjustment tools which may also help.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zU0gyV8L_a0

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