An Aperture Pit Stop on a Tropical Island

by Micah Walter

As 2006 comes to a close I find myself taking a moment to reflect on all of the wonderful things that have happened to me over the past year. As of this moment, I am writing this post from my apartment on a tropical island in the West Indies. My girlfriend and I moved here last August and we will be living here for the next year while she attends medical school.

Spending the holidays on a tropical island is a bit odd. It’s in the 80’s today, and I spent most of my afternoon sitting on a dock, overlooking the Caribbean Sea and reading a book. As I sat there I began to think about this past year. I looked over to my girlfriend, as she sat at the bar eating lunch with our two visiting friends and I thought to myself, “Man, I really have a great life.” 

I mean really, I have some of the best friends anyone could ask for. I live on a tropical island, and I’m living out my dream-job as a photographer and writer. Did I already mention the weather?

One of our visitors this holiday season is Scott. I met Scott right around the same time I met my girlfriend. Scott is, well, a Mac guy. It wasn’t long after we met that I began to consider him to be more than just a friend—he was also my new personal Mac consultant. I think every photographer should have one.

In October of 2005, Scott and I attended the PhotoPlus Expo at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City. Now, it’s important to note here that Scott is not a photographer, though he does own a Canon Rebel XT. But, Scott was just as interested as I was to see what Apple had in store for the photography industry in 2005, and so we made the trip together.

Of course the rest is history. Apple unveiled Aperture at the show, and wowed photographers the world over. Scott was moderately impressed, but he was interested and began to experiment with the application, eventually making the decision to use it for his entire photo archive. 

Fast-forward to present day. As it happens to just about everyone who lives in a big city like New York, Scott eventually decided he needed a change of scenery. He packed up his belongings, moved out of his apartment, and convinced his girlfriend Katie to go on a trek across Central America to volunteer on organic farms.

The most surprising news about their odyssey was that Scott had decided to leave his MacBook behind. For his journey he packed his Rebel XT, a new lens, and a pile of compact flash cards. He also bought an Apple iPod camera adapter so that he could back up his cards to his iPod, and a small USB card reader so that he could email photos back home and post pictures to his blog from any antiquated yet USB enabled internet café computer. This allowed for travel through the thickest of Central American jungles without worrying about protecting a laptop in rough terrain.

Needless to say, when Scott and Katie arrived, Scott was in Macintosh heaven. We quickly set up a user account for him, and began to discuss how he could back up and send home his travel pictures. This would allow him to format his cards and continue shooting.


Scott and Katie's Project Folders

Obviously, this sounded like a perfect job for Aperture. We got out his cards and began importing his photos. We spent some time creating albums for each city they had visited, and added keywords and caption information. Katie also had a camera, so we created a top-level folder containing separate projects for each of them.

After all the files were imported and organized, Scott and Katie went through and gave their favorite images star ratings. Once they had edited their shoot, they used the flickr export command to upload their best images for use on their blog.

Scott picked out a few recent photos and used Aperture’s Mail feature to send out updates to his family and friends back home.

Once we were finished with all of the organizing, editing, meta-tagging, uploading and emailing, we exported the top-level folder to the desktop. The folder contained all of their Aperture projects, complete with master images, and all the work they had done in Aperture. We used Apples .Mac Backup utility to make two sets of DVDs, one of which we mailed to his parents in the states, and one of which he will take with him on the rest of his journey. We also copied the entire top-level folder to Scott’s iPod, just to be safe.


A few of Scott and Katie's 5-star images

When Scott and Katie return home, they will have everything in one place. They can simply fire up their Macbook, restore the DVDs to their local drive and import the top-level folder into Aperture. Everything will be in one place, and all the work they did while at our apartment will be preserved. More importantly, they will no longer need to worry about losing their pictures during the rest of their travels, as the pictures are now safe in multiple locations, and on multiple types of media.

Over this past year I have really come to enjoy working with Aperture. It has certainly made my life easier. But, it is even better when I get a chance to use what I have learned to help out my friends. I hope all of you have been having a great holiday season, and I look forward to a new year, and many future posts.



2006-12-27 07:06:03
I'm trying to get going with Aperture but need some hand-holding, step by step, instructions to get past the basics. Can you recommend something? Your blog is terrific!
2006-12-27 07:48:30
Hey Roger, Scott Bourne and I have two Aperture training titles on

Aperture Essential Training and the recent Aperture Beyond the Basics

This is a very affordable way to get going with Aperture. You just follow along with the video, and you're up to speed before you know it.

J Pease
2006-12-28 18:53:58
Thank you for such a great post. I love hearing how others are using Aperture in the 'real' world. I am struggling with the migration to Aperture.

I actually imported my entire library and some sort of drive corruption while writing to the drive caused me to lose everything. I had set up a vault but since my files were referenced and it had not synced since my last shoot, I lost a ton of changes. I was able to recover some of the photos, but not able to sync back my vault as the files would no link up, due to the fact that my recovered file have all new names( Data Rescue renames them)and the file structure is completely trashed.

Needless to say, I am a bit jumpy now with Aperture. The drive that corrupted seems to be working fine( no hardware issues)so I don't know if it was Aperture or not.

I have used everything from Extensis Portfolio versions 6-8 and switched to iview 2-3, but found that although cataloging was great, to one extent or another, neither program was built with the professional high-end photographer in mind( limited RAW support, lack of editing, easy distribution etc.)and I have always preferred Apple's products to others.

So, Aperture has seemed like my product from the start. Despite the well laid out documentation by everyone here, I am still stuck with the managed v.s. referenced files question. Also versions are powerful, and a much needed technology, but I am wary of losing the link between them and the master file.

I know with Roxio Toast I can span discs and it would seem that referenced files would be attractive, but as of yet, I am unsure as to how I would import and work on files located on a DVD. If I make changes to the metadata does it save in the version? How does it sync with my master? I am guessing it cannot. Also, due to my recent catastrophe I found that if my folder structure is changed in any way, then I cannot sync my vault, so....

I just want to say, in closing though, that this website and all you guys have really been an anchor to guys like us, who sometimes get too bogged down in the field, and need someone to point us in the right direction.

It's really nice to be a part of such a great team.


2007-03-23 22:44:23
i love you