Apple Specialist

"Explore Aperture at an Apple Specialist"

September is Explore Aperture month at select Apple Specialist across the United States. Check out the variety of free events designed to inform you about Aperture- Apple's post-production tool for photographers. Aperture offers an advanced RAW workflow, professional project management, powerful compare and select tools, nondestructive image processing, and versatile printing and publishing options. There will be giveaways and special offers for attendees. Dates, content, and events vary by location. Go to to learn more.

Apple Specialists are Apple Authorized resellers that have been regionally approved and nationally recognized as resellers who have made a significant commitment to Apple by helping customers understand how Apple technologies are the best solutions for their business or personal computing needs.

Apple Specialist

Apple's Aperture; Digital Camera Image Management, Processing, Editing, And Output--All In One

"Excerpted from the Shutterbug May, 2006 review by David Brooks."

With so many digital SLR cameras sold in the last few years it was inevitable that programmers would put together solutions to serve all of the needs of photographers in a comprehensive application. That Apple would be out front with their slick and powerful Aperture application, I think, caught some off guard. But considering all the independent activity in conversion support software for raw digital camera files, some of which I have reported on recently, Aperture should have been no surprise. Regardless, it is probably a good move for Apple, and it provides both professional and serious enthusiast photographers with capabilities that may ideally suit their needs.

So what is Aperture? It is an application designed to provide photographers with the tools and processes for dealing with digital camera files. In a way, Aperture's tools and processes are designed as a digital metaphor to what photographers have done for years after shooting and processing film.

Even though Apple presents a single, integrated application using the same interface, there are different views that relate to each of the steps in the process. The first of course is download or acquisition from the camera or card reader or even a CD or DVD. The second view and function is possibly the most elaborated and complex; it deals with the selection, editing, inspection, and evaluation of images, plus the culling of images that are not keepers. Appended to that function is a database for rating and identifying images. This uses metadata that's associated with the image file but also can use keywords and classifiers added by the photographer for search and identification/organization purposes.

Once a selection of keepers is made, identified, re-named, and organized from a shoot, which Apple calls a Project, each individual image can be viewed large individually, comparatively, or in groups. There are also a host of Aperture editing tools in a free-floating box that can be used to optimize the images to their fullest potential.

Another Aperture work space view emulates a large light table for slides and transparencies. It provides the ability to select from the thumbnails in a browser environment, from which you can arrange, size, and lay them out in freeform fashion. The Light Table arrangement itself can be a kind of output in the form of a print, an Acrobat PDF, an e-mail, or web page in HTML.

Aperture supports a full range of output options. It can be used as the communications center for clients or associates or as an output center. It can generate individual prints, a slide show, or even a press-printed book using Apple's online Aperture support services.

Using Apple's Aperture
With the digital camera raw conversion utilities previous to Aperture, you had to first convert from the proprietary format to a standard RGB image file format like Adobe PSD or TIFF to be able to work with the images, that is, to edit and correct them. Aperture functions a little differently. In Apple's words, "Raw images are maintained natively throughout Aperture without any intermediate conversion process...Aperture's nondestructive image processing engine never alters a single pixel of original photos."

So what you are actually seeing on screen and editing is a proxy so-to-speak, and what you change is recorded as an instruction attached to this proxy. This is only incorporated in an export of the now-changed file, which is called a Version, or in output like a print of Acrobat .PDF. This unique way of working in an application with raw camera image files explains why Aperture acquires downloads and puts them into its work space unusually fast, especially with a four-processor G5, but also with my older and less powerful Mac.

Time, of course, is the essence of Aperture. It is highly efficient in gathering a collection of exposures, and then in aiding you in selecting keepers. It is also very fast in batch re-naming, if desired. One way that you do this culling is by applying a star rating system to individual images. From my perspective the rating system works well with big, redundant collections of exposed frames, I have my doubts, however, that adding keywords and other identification data for searching will be worth the effort unless you are doing a stock photo library, or you are a pro with a very large volume of images and an assistant to do the keyboard pounding. Otherwise, the time invested is just an overhead expense that detracts from the bottom line and takes one away from being behind a camera.

With raw format digital camera images, the core of the processing is color correction and the adjustment of image values to produce an optimal image file. Apple, I believe, assumed correctly that professionals and serious enthusiasts prefer to make the corrections and adjustments to their own unique, individual requirements and do not want an automated cookie-cutter solution just because it is easy. Apple has provided a floating control window, a HUD (Heads-Up Display), included in the Inspector window that displays image and metadata information. The adjustment controls include the usual "list of suspects," such as the basic adjustments of Levels, Exposure, Highlights & Shadows, White Balance, Sharpen, as well as utilities to correct for redeye, spot and patch, straighten, crop, reduce noise, and a monochrome mixer to convert to black and white, plus a sepia option.

With most other raw software converters and programs, once an image is adjusted you had to then export it and open that file in an image editor to do anything with it. But Aperture continues to provide the tools a photographer needs to further organize, present, and publish photographs in formats applicable to a variety of tasks without this extra step. For example, if a photographer wants to output a digital slide show either from some of the images in a Project or images from several different Projects, a Smart Album can be created and the images can be gathered as a collection in this new Smart Album space. Smart Albums, unlike the Project albums, allow images to be controlled and gathered via the Query HUD. Any applied criteria can be used to gather images, including star ratings, keywords, etc.

The output options provided by Aperture support all kinds of media, from the web and e-mail to high-quality bound books printed through services from Apple, available via their online Aperture service. The single image print is effectively done with a print dialog that supports a preview for sizing and, if desired, putting a border on the image on the print. It is fully color managed to print directly to a print space profile, with Aperture controlling color. And of course individual images can be exported as files saved to your desktop or a folder, or opened in a designated application like Photoshop. Additionally, copies of the downloaded raw format camera files can be output intact in their native raw format.

Both web journals (photoblogs) and web galleries may be created using Aperture-controlled formatting for the number of columns/thumbnail size and the number of rows and, with Journals, support for text in text blocks. And, of course images in a browser can be selected to be included in a contact proof sheet that may be reproduced with a desktop printer, output as an Acrobat .PDF, sent as e-mail or reproduced in HTML as a web page. Finally, Aperture supports multi-paged books using a Create Book Album from a selection of images. The book can be reproduced in different sizes and styles, which you can first proof with a desktop printer and then order through Apple online, including binding in hard or soft cover. This strikes me as a real bonus for a wedding photographer, as Aperture supports the entire process from start to a finished album.

Evaluation And Recommendation
It was an ambitious undertaking for Apple to produce an entirely new application that would address all of the primary software needs of photographers in one integrated work space. That Aperture is as comprehensive as it is, and functions as fast and efficiently to produce high-quality results with relative ease is pretty miraculous. Their accomplishment is even more impressive given that this is their first go-round; other software vendors have been doing image-editing applications for years and have achieved their effectiveness only over years of numerous version upgrades. You can be sure I will continue to use Aperture on a regular basis, and I can't really imagine a photographer not finding it a great advantage in speed, efficiency, quality, and capability.

For The Full Review Click Here!

Apple Specialist
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