Aperture Tricks – All About Apple Aperture

October 3, 2006

Aperture 1.5 First Impressions

Filed under: Articles, Reviews — Scott @ 2:52 pm

Now that the dust has settled, and I’ve had a few days to use Aperture 1.5, I must say I am impressed. This is a major upgrade to an already good program.

Apple has added more than 20 new features and improved performance. On my MacBookPro, 2GHZ with two gigabytes of RAM, I rarely see the spinning beach ball. I don’t have any fancy test equipment but I can tell you, it’s faster and smoother. This alone will be news that propels the application onto the desks of many photographers.

Other than the basic performance enhancement, Aperture has made great gains in file management, metadata and image adjustments.

One of the first things 1.5 users will have to decide is whether or not they want to use the new image previews. These are not required if you don’t plan to do offline library management, if you don’t want to make slide shows, if you don’t want drag and drop jpeg support and if you don’t care about sharing images with iLife and iWork.

Beware that creating previews takes time. If you automatically create previews for all your new images, you’ll certainly spend some time waiting before you can access a large group of photos that you’re importing. I turned off the automatic previews, deciding that I will apply this feature selectively after I have made my pics.

Aperture makes this easy to do on a project-by-project basis or on an image-by-image basis.

Another cool new feature is the Centered Loupe. Open up the Loupe tool as you normally would. Then press Command-Shift-Tilde and you’ll see the Centered Loupe. You can drag this around the image as you would expect and now expand the Loupe all the way to 1600 percent. There’s a neat pixel map option as well.

The new Edge Sharpen adjustment adds improved luminance-based sharpening with precise control. In earlier versions of Aperture, I was rarely satisfied with the Sharpen took because it sharpened everything. Now, I can use the Edge Sharpen adjustment to sharpen where I need it.

This new tool has three basic controls: intensity, edges and falloff. Intensity controls how much sharpening is applied. Edges controls the area over which the sharpening effect is applied in two percent increments. Falloff is a new concept. Aperture applies edge sharpening in three passes. Falloff is the control that relates to how much sharpening is applied during the multiple application process.

There are too many new features to cover in one post so I’ll continue to update as I go through.

Apple has stepped up big time with Aperture 1.5. The fact that it works faster and smoother, offers new features, now works with any Intel Mac and was provided free of charge, is sufficient to warrant forgiveness for the marketing mistakes Apple made when it announced Aperture last November.

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September 26, 2006

More On Aperture 1.5

Filed under: Articles, Reviews — Scott @ 2:32 pm

Over the next several weeks I’ll be adding information about Aperture 1.5. Today I want to talk more in-depth about a few of the lesser-known new features.

API & Plug-Ins 

One thing that I was concerned about early on was whether or not Apple would open up Aperture to outside developers. Early discussions with Aperture Project Lead Joe Schorr were not encouraging. But it looks like Apple has decided to open up part of the program. They have released a new API- plug-in architecture that allows third-party developers to connect their products or services to an Aperture workflow.

At Photokina in Germany yesterday, apple was showing off plug-ins from Digital FusionPhotoShelter, Pictage, Connected Flow/Flickr and several of the large photo stock agencies. Unfortunately, there were no announcements of plug-ins that increase Aperture’s editing or manipulating functionality. But the notion that Apple will open up any part of Aperture to third-party development is exciting. It means that there may be the kind of extensibility we see in products like Photoshop through third-party plug-ins.

Window Layouts

The Window Layouts are no more. While I am sure that this will be good news to some, I will miss them. I got very used to the layouts as part of my workflow. You can still reconfigure the windows using  three choices:

1) maximize browser

2) maximize viewer

3) standard

This is going to take some getting used to for me. It also means that I will have to change my training tactics since I often had students switch their layouts based on the old buttons. Maybe I’ll like it after I get used to it but when you’ve used an Application every day for 10 months one way and all of a sudden you have to change, it’s hard.

Lift & Stamp

You can now copy cropping and straightening data from one image to another. Yes! I have been waiting for this feature. When you shoot events and you want to do a basic crop of the background this will speed things up a bunch.

Next week I will cover the changes to the Library. They are significant. They address some of the biggest complaints about Aperture’s file management practices.

July 24, 2006

Extending Your Aperture Library Across Multiple Volumes

Filed under: Articles — Scott @ 12:11 pm

I’ve seen several sites lately where people are suggesting various schemes for spreading out your Aperture Library across multiple volumes. This in response to one of Aperture’s greatest perceived weaknesses. . . the Library (the container where your images are stored) must reside on a single hard disk. And you can’t have more than one Library open at a time, nor can you easily switch between Libraries without shutting Aperture down, and launching again from the new Library.

So it was only a matter of time before some smart folks figured out ways to get around this limitation and offer volume-spanning utilities, scripts and other tricks that let you spread your Aperture Library over more than one hard disk.

So you might expect that coming up, I’ll provide you with one such trick or link to others but I won’t and here’s why. I think it’s a bad idea.

Since I run this site, I receive a fair amount of e-mail regarding Aperture. And almost once a week I hear from someone who’s had a tragedy (or near miss) while futzing with the Library, trying to span multiple physical or logical volumes.

There are several potential problems with some of the existing volume spanning schemes. Here are just two. The first is performance. We all know that Aperture is always pushing the envelope when it comes to system resources. Aperture is a power hungry, RAM hungry, GPU hungry application that wants all it can get and more. When you load it down with an extra large Library, you tax the system to the point that at best, the user experience is poor and at worst, it breaks.

Beyond the performance issues are those related to the Vault. I can tell you from first hand experience that I’ve broken more Aperture Vault’s by trying to volume span than I care to count. Once you have your files spread out all over the landscape on multiple disks, it becomes harder and harder for the Vault to do its job. For me, the Vault is one of the best reasons to use Aperture. When the system is operated as intended, the Vault works to make sure you have a good backup of all your pictures. I’ve used the Vault in an emergency situation and it saved my bacon. I believe in its approach. If you start spreading out your Library, you may well see problems with your Vault and accordingly, your bacon may not be saved as was mine.

What’s the solution? You can have more than one Library in Aperture. You just can’t have more than one Library open at one time. For now, while less than satisfying, it’s a safe way to segment large amounts of imagery and it’s way to guarantee best performance.

Apple is working on a solution to this problem. In fact, I expect some form of relief in the 1.5 or 2.0 Aperture release. Until then, unless you are a very talented programmer or literal OSX wizard, be careful of volume-spanning schemes.

May 25, 2006

E-Coupon Update

Filed under: Articles — Scott @ 3:17 pm

I thought I’d take a moment to report that several Aperturetricks.com readers have contacted me to report that they did receive their E-Coupon rebate. This was the rebate Apple promised to early adopters who paid $499 for Aperture when it first launched. While it appears that customers in the USA are getting the rebates within the promised time frame, some customers in Europe have been more vocal in their complaints that the E-Coupon program isn’t reaching them.

May 22, 2006

Follow Up On The Double Standard

Filed under: Articles — Scott @ 2:20 am

I heard from several of you regarding my last post. I got more than 30 emails. Obviously I hit a nerve or at least voiced the same thing many of you are thinking.

While there were several opinions, the general agreement seems to come down on the side of Photoshop gets a free pass because…

Too many people make their living hyping, selling, writing about, teaching and supporting Photoshop to honestly evaluate its flaws. On the other hand, since Aperture is new, there’s no real industry surrounding it and consequently, it’s easier for people to be willing to attack it.

I think I agree with that position. And it really doesn’t matter. People will continue to support Photoshop no matter what. It’s up to Apple to build an audience for Aperture that evokes the same kind of loyalty. So far, Apple is off to a questionable start. But it’s early days yet and there’s plenty of time to turn it around.

May 19, 2006

Is There A Double Standard?

Filed under: Articles — Scott @ 3:00 pm

I note with great interest that there seems to be a cadre of people who have made it their life's work to uncover and expose every possible flaw in Apple's Aperture. It appears that no stone will be left unturned in this quest. The ArsTechincas of the world have figured out that it's easier to build an audience with negative reviews and the masses seem to think every $300 they spend should make them healthy, wealthy and wise.

And on another front, I noticed that Adobe quietly updated Photoshop CS 2 this week. Now remember, that we're working with version 1.1.1 of Aperture and version 9.01 of Photoshop, yet look at all the things that Adobe had to fix in its latest update…after nine versions, you'd certainly expect something closer to perfection than this wouldn't you?
After the update…

 Photoshop no longer hangs for several seconds when using painting tools with quick strokes.
 A runtime error that could appear when mousing over a high-res document with the Brush tool has been fixed.
 Documents containing a large number of text layers now open more quickly.
 Problems related to palettes (slow redraw, palettes go white, possible crash) have been addressed.
 TIFF files from certain scanners can now be opened correctly.
 After editing an image in Photoshop CS2 via the TouchUp tool in Adobe Acrobat software, the image no longer gets repositioned.
 XMP metadata from AI and PDF files is now retained in Photoshop.
 Slow performance when toggling layer visibility has been fixed.
 Info palette numbers are now displayed and updated when moving a curve point in Curves via the cursor keys.
 Problems opening certain TIFF and PSB files greater than 2GB have been resolved.
 The Merge to HDR command now functions properly when using high-ASCII characters in user login.

Can you imagine the outcry if Aperture waited that long to fix that many problems? And we're talking about the difference between a version one and a version nine application to boot!

When I look back at the crying and whining over Aperture's perceived failure to accomplish this or that task, and then I look at how the digital photo community gives Adobe a virtual free pass and I have to wonder, why?

Is it just that Apple is so arrogant that people enjoy attacking them? Is it that Adobe's PR machine is simply better at controlling the media? Is it that the Adobe shills are greater in number and therefore more able to quiet dissent? Is it Apple's unreasonable additiction to secrecy? Or is it a combination of all these?
If you have an opinion, send me an email. I'd love to understand this better.

May 16, 2006

Aperture Users Want Upgrade Path – And This Time, They’re Not Just Whining

Filed under: Articles — Scott @ 6:57 pm

Time for a rant…If you don’t like rants, stop reading now.

I admit it. I am somewhat fed up by the whining that has gone on in the Aperture forums. People’s expectations seem way out of whack lately with anything close to reality. Most of the complaints I’ve seen about Aperture are simply unfounded. But here’s one that’s straight up legitimate and Apple should be shamed into doing something about it.

A group of Aperture users has banded together to try to force Apple to listen. The Yahoo group can be found at:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/aperture

The problem is simple. Apple sold G5 towers with the nVidia 6600 card as Aperture capable. And while true, it’s just barely true. I had that card in a G5 tower and found performance to be sloooooooow. So I yelled and screamed and Apple let me return my new G5 for full credit and order a new G5 with the nVidia GT7800. All was forgiven. But it seems that option is not available for the masses so a bunch of early adopters are stuck with less than happy Aperture experiences because Apple doesn’t offer an upgrade path.

Actually, I have never heard of such a thing. Who would have thought that you could buy a computer these days but not be able to upgrade the video card. But that is in fact the case. If you buy a Mac G5 from Apple with the new PCIExpress Bus (the only way it comes now) then you better get the right card when you order because once you get past the return period, you’re stuck with THAT card period. There is no upgrade path. Personally, knowing that, I wouldn’t buy that computer. And I assume that while the current Aperture owners are stuck, future prospects should and will be forewarned and forearmed.

Apple, if you’re listening, do the right thing. Once again, stop treating your customers like adversaries. Give people an upgrade path or a refund and be done with it. You make some very great stuff Apple. And we want to love you. We really do. But you have to help.

May 14, 2006

Ars Technica

Filed under: Articles, Reviews — Scott @ 9:26 pm

Several of you contacted me to see if I'd read Dave Girard's updated Aperture review. I did glance at it. But I rarely visit that site any more. Since the flawed 1.0 review that Dave wrote appeared, Ars Technica has no credibility with me. 

You see I learned early on that any fool can burn down a barn but it takes some hard work to build one. I predicted early on that the Aperture-bashers would change their tune and a quick read of Girard's review proves my point.

The bottom line is this. The guy didn't understand the program when he wrote his first review and rather than admit it, he slammed what he didn't understand. Now that time has passed, and Apple has responded to a few of the legitimate critiques Aperture did receive, the Girards of the world will jump on the bandwagon.

And here's my favorite part, when Aperture 8.0 is released, the Girards of the world will be bragging how from the start, they used and loved the program.

Yeah right. 

April 22, 2006

What If Aperture Isn’t Right For You?

Filed under: Articles — Scott @ 2:57 pm

I have received a enough email on Aperture 1.1 by now to know that most of the installed Aperture user base is satisfied with the update. Not everyone is thrilled, but they find the improvement sufficient to enjoy the program. Personally, I think the update is great. But there are some people who just aren’t going to be satisfied with Aperture, even with the recent price reduction.

Some of those folks have been contacting me to ask for suggestions or alternatives to Aperture. A natural response might be Adobe’s Lightroom. But unfortunately, I think that’s jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire. I applaud Adobe for making the attempt, but whatever Aperture’s shortcomings, it blows away Lightroom for features, usability and power. Because it’s Beta, I think it’s folly to trust it in any serious digital photo workflow. Once the program matures and comes out in a retail version, my concerns will probably be minimized. But right now, I don’t think much of it. That’s just my opinion, but hey, this is my blog so what the heck.

So if Lightroom isn’t the right choice, there’s Lightzone. At $149 it seems to be priced right and my pal Derrick Story seems to like it.

But another choice that I would not have mentioned six months ago is iPhoto. If you buy a new Mac it comes free with iPhoto and the latest version is stunning in both its power and simplicity. It has some of the cool new features of Aperture, is very stable and runs like a race car on any Mac.

So there are alternatives, and if Aperture isn’t right for you, then you can move on to something else. The good news is that there are lots of choices.

April 14, 2006

1.1 Install Problems

Filed under: Articles — Scott @ 11:16 pm

While I had no problem whatsoever updating and installing Aperture 1.1 on my MacBookPro, it appears that some people haven’t been so lucky. If you fall into that category, try reading this article at MacFixIt.

http://www.macfixit.com/article.php?story=20060414082011791

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