Learning Aperture, and my photo workflow to date
2022-12-03: I noticed several 404 errors for this old blog post, so I restored it.
Over winter break I got Aperture, Apple's photo "workflow" tool. I didn't really know what Aperture was, or why you might need a "workflow" tool. I thought Aperture would be a lot like Adobe Photoshop, where you do lots of fancy editing of your photos.
Well, it turns out tools like Aperture (and I believe Photoshop Lightroom) are their own thing: they are tools to help you go from the image on the camera to the completed roll.
As a way of explaining what Aperture is, I'll explain my "workflow" based on what I understand of Aperture so far. My logic here is that I shoot in RAW format, I want Aperture to have every non-horrible picture I have taken in RAW format, and then I send the best ones to iPhoto. iPhoto then has a JPEG, finished version of every nice picture, and I show my iPhoto library to people. iPhoto then sends the pictures to flickr, for now using the flickr uploadr.
- Take photos
- Import photos
- Connect camera to computer. I have my computer set up to run Aperture when my camera connects, in "space 2" on my computer
- Still in the "import images" pane, Tell Aperture to "stack" all photos taken within 15 seconds of one another. (An Aperture "stack" is a group of related pictures, e.g. if you took three pictures of the same building.)
- Still in the "import images" pane, review the stacks Aperture created and modify as needed (with command+K to stack, option+K to split stacks)
- Create new project(s) for the photos to be imported. Currently I am using the following folder layout: "YYYY >> MM >> DD PROJECT NAME" e.g. "2010 >> 01 >> 01 washington park" for shooting Washington Park on 2010/01/01. Also, I have a couple of generic projects for relatively timeless stuff e.g. "SUBJECTS >> ANIMALS >> FRED AND EMMA" for random pictures of our cats that I don't want to make into their own project.
- Import photos. Watch the import via the "Window > Show Activity" menu if needed
- Disconnect camera. On the camera, quick format the card. (For my Canon XSi, Go to Menu > first "wrench" menu > Format > uncheck "low level format" > OK.) This is different than my previous workflow, with iPhoto, where iPhoto would format the card.
- Review the photos
- If I imported the photos into only one project, then go to that project. Otherwise, go to "All Photos" and search by "Import Session" for all import sessions I just created. I want to make sure I look at all the photos I imported and don't miss any. Now I should be looking at all the photos just imported.
- Go through each photo, beginning with the first.
- Rate each photo: 9 = rejected, 1 = for my eyes only, 2 = OK to share with others.
- For non-rejected photos, white balance the photo. For a set of photos use "lift and stamp" to lift the correct white balance from a good photo and stamp it on the others.
- For non-rejected photos, check the exposure and use "auto-expose" if needed. (I am still learning about proper exposure, probably because I do too much spot metering vs. evaluative metering. Use option+shift+H to see the hot and cold areas that I need to pay more attention to next time.)
- Crop the photo with "C" if needed. Try to keep the 2x3 or 3x2 ratio, so 4x6 prints would come out OK.
- Straighten the photo with "G" if needed. (For some reason I take a lot of crooked pictures.)
- For each stack, "pick" the best photo with command+\
- Search for rejected photos (Library > Rejected) and delete them.
- Post the best photos.
- Create a smart folder for your project(s) called "two star" that only shows images with two or more stars.
- Aside: If you haven't done this before, then in Aperture go to "Aperture > Preferences" to the "Previews" tab and make the Previews the highest quality and don't limit the preview size. These previews are what iPhoto will import here in a minute.
- Open iPhoto. Go to File > Show Aperture Library.
- In iPhoto, find each "two star" folder, and drag them one at a time to the iPhoto "events" area. iPhoto will import each folder as its own event. (Note: I have iPhoto copy the images rather than link to them. Maybe I will eventually feel more comfortable linking.) My thinking here is that I want iPhoto to have all the "good stuff." iPhoto makes it easier to share the photos e.g. with slideshows and face recognition.
- Now the photos go on-line. Open "Flickr Uploadr" and drag the photos from iPhoto to the uploadr. Title them and tag them. I tag them with my camera plus the lens and any flash, e.g. "canon xsi 35mm 430ex flash" for an indoor flash that used the 430ex.
- Any photos that are primarily of people, select in iPhoto and export them: "File > Export…" with JPEG quality "High," Size "Large". Export them to the desktop, upload them in Facebook, and then delete them from the desktop.
- Done. Whew!