Aperture on a PowerBook, Pt. 2 - Raw Files & CS2

by Derrick Story

I spent some time learning Aperture's image editing tools last night. The best way to edit, IMHO, is to go to Full Screen mode and use the Adjustments HUD (HUD is a term in Aperture for Heads Up Display).


Aperture's full screen mode with Browser (far right) and Adjustments HUD.

You have lots of controls that you can apply to your image:

  • Red eye correction

  • Spot and patch

  • Straighten

  • Crop

  • Levels

  • Exposure

  • Highlight and shadows (love this one)

  • White balance

  • Monochrome mixer (this one is cool too!)

  • Sepia tone

  • Noise reduction

  • Sharpen

Your master image is left untouched while you apply corrections. Instead Aperture works with a version of the image. You can have multiple versions from the same master image. And the best part is, Aperture is using metadata to perform this magic, so you're *not* adding tons of Megabytes to your hard drive with each version.

I was disappointed to discover, however, that I can't link directly to Camera Raw for editing my Raw files in Aperture. I can use Photoshop as an external editor, but only in the .PSD or .TIFF format. So if I open a .CR2 file (contained in Aperture) in an "external editor," (Photoshop CS2), then Aperture opens a .PSD version of the file in Photoshop. Once I make my adjustments, the changes are saved back to Aperture (again, leaving the master file untouched).

If I want to work in Camera Raw, I have to export the master .CR2 file out of Aperture, edit in Camera Raw, then import the Photoshop file back into Aperture.

I will say that Aperture's robust image editing tools are quite decent. But to be honest, there I times I want to edit in Camera Raw. It's an environment I like. Possibly, I'm missing something here. If you have more info about this, please post a TalkBack so we can present the most complete picture possible.

More in this series...


2005-12-05 08:16:02
FYI: Getting Started with Aperture
I forgot to mention that I posted a quick piece on TDS about how I recommend getting started with Aperture:


2005-12-05 08:36:27
Aperture, iPhoto, iPod, Raw files
I have bought Aperture and I am wondering how to use it (developping a workflow). What I have seen of the tutorials look nice but answer only partly my requirements: they start from a clean situation where my situation is a mess with about 6000 pictures without keywords and only the few pictures sent by family members in specifics folders.
Like you mentioned in your last article, I will probably have to keep using iPhoto in addition of aperture (I do not think that Aperture can synchronize with the iPod through iTunes like iPhoto.
In addition, none of my three cameras raw file format is recognized by Aperture or iPhoto. Only one of them is recognised by Photoshop raw image but I have recently discovered that the two others are supported by the latest beta of the DNG converter. I have not tested if the converted pictures are acceptable to apperture or iPhoto.
The conclusion of this is that you have great opportunities for articles and books to help people like me!
2005-12-05 11:41:14
Camera Raw + Aperture = No sense
Derrick, it doesn't make any sense to use Aperture with Camera Raw, does it?

Aperture won't recognize any changes you make, so there'd be no versioning of any kind until you re-import a PSD or TIFF back into Aperture.

If you want to use Camera Raw--other than as a very rare case--then Aperture is not the right tool for you.

The question is: Should Apple spend time and money developing Aperture into a product that can use other companies' raw converters. IMHO, the answer to that question is 'no'. Apple should spend its time & money adding photographer-friendly features to Aperture.

2005-12-05 13:14:07
RE: Camera Raw + Aperture = No sense
Actually, for my purposes, I disagree. I see Aperture as a robust database for image management. How it handles versions is a real strength of the app. It has other wonderful features too. Its image editing tools, though handy, are not on par with those in Photoshop.

I think for Aperture to succeed as a true workflow solution for professionals, Apple will need to find a way to incorporate the option for Camera Raw editing into the environment, allowing us to import back 16-bit PSD files into Aperture.

2005-12-05 13:15:27
What camera are you using
Hi Derrick,

What camera are you using? Apparently some people aren't too happy with the quality of the RAW conversion (see http://arstechnica.com/reviews/apps/aperture.ars (http://arstechnica.com/reviews/apps/aperture.ars) ), but it may depend on the type of photos you use it one (whether it is visible at all) and on the exact type of RAW file?

And a question related to this post: when do you feel the need to go to photoshop? What sorts of action do you do there? Are any of those items that should be part of Aperture 2?


2005-12-05 13:35:39
RE: What camera are you using
I've tested Raw files from the Canon 10D, Rebel XT (350D), and 5D. I haven't done a side by side comparison of Raw processing between Aperture and Camera Raw, as did the reviewer for the ars technica article. But I have to say that I generally like the way my Raw files look in Aperture.

As I've mentioned earlier, I do want to be able to use Camera Raw in addition to Aperture's own editing tools. Sure, many of my Raw images can stay solely within the Aperture environment, and that's fine. But when I really want to "work a photo," I want Camera Raw. Plus I want to be able to work in layers afterward, use specialized filters, etc. Then, when I'm finished, I can send the 16-bit file back to Aperture for management.

I'm not willing to speculate on what should be included in future versions of Aperture yet because I'm still learning the program. Sure, things like Camera Raw connectivity, music for slideshows, etc. seem obvious at first. But for now I'm content on learning as much as I can and reporting back my findings here.

2005-12-05 14:58:18
RE: What camera are you using
That last bit surprises me: "Music for slideshows". Why? Actually I hardly ever use slideshows in iPhoto, I think they're annoying, especially with sound, but I guess to each his own for a consumer app. But in a workflow application?

I take it this also means that export of a set to iPhoto is not an option. That is a pity, because I can imagine that Wedding phtographers could sell/give a (jpeg, not raw) iPhoto library to their customers.


2005-12-05 15:19:52
RE: What camera are you using
Actually, I'm surprised that wanting music surprises you. I see Aperture as a full-fledged pro tool. One of the important functions for wedding and portrait photographers is the presentation of the shoot. Being able to generate a beautiful slideshow with music right out of Aperture is vital. There's an old rule in wedding photography (of which I don't personally subscribe to, but will pass on because many do): "Make em cry and they will buy." The best way to make them cry is a touching slideshow with music.
2005-12-05 15:54:11
Where Does the Music Come From?
This is slightly off-topic, but I’m wondering where these wedding photographers get the music that makes their customers cry. I suspect they’re using recognizable songs “borrowed” from CDs the bride supplied rather than creating original music in GarageBand/Sonicfire or using royalty-free music.... —David
2005-12-06 08:33:35
Where Does the Music Come From?
Definitely using existing music from CDs they already have. Most of these folks aren't musicians :)
2005-12-09 04:41:03
RE: What camera are you using
In fact, Aperture does have music for slideshows. Select your images, choose File -> Slideshow and in the resulting dialog box select Edit... from the drop down menu. There's all the slideshow options, including music.
2005-12-09 08:51:15
Nondestructive editing
Your master image is left untouched while you apply corrections...And the best part is, Aperture is using metadata to perform this magic, so you're *not* adding tons of Megabytes to your hard drive with each version.

I'm wondering why this is a point to make versus Adobe Camera Raw. All the reviews say "oh my god, nondestructive RAW editing!" but don't you also automatically get this with other raw editors like Camera Raw? I was under the impression that you can't write back to a raw file, meaning every raw editor that lets you make corrections before the conversion is a nondestructive raw editor. Camera Raw certainly stores your settings in metadata as well, this is especially obvious if you use the distributed cache option. So why do people breathlessly parrot Apple's marketing line about nondestructive editing as if Apple was the first company to do this with raw files? Or am I missing something?

(I would, however, like Adobe to add versions capability to Camera Raw, since it only lets you associate the latest metadata changes with the raw file. And as far as I know, Adobe's Version Cue doesn't work inside Camera Raw.)

2005-12-09 10:09:23
RE: Nondestructive editing
I see your question here. I think the statement that Apple is making with Aperture is that it uses metadata to handle the "versions" of your Raw file. So you can adjust your Raw images in Aperture and have an adjusted "version" (that's really only XML data) in your library without having to save the image as a .psd or .tiff. This is a big deal because it saves you tons of hard disk space. Version management in Aperture is cool. The criticism leveraged against Aperture at the moment concerns the actual Raw conversion compared to Camera Raw.
2005-12-09 10:11:27
RE: RE: What camera are you using
Ah, great tip. I'll test it out. Really appreciate you posting :)
2005-12-12 15:16:14
Camera Raw + Aperture = No sense
Unless Apple are going to spend the resources making sure that the raw conversion is as good as, say Capture One, then I disagree with you. I regularly blow my images up to 16x24 and beyond, and the raw conversion in Aperture is nothing like as good as Capture One. For the reasons mentioned on this thread, that pretty much means that Aperture is no good to me.

There are other reasons, related to raw image processing I don't like it. For example, the lack of a curves function. Doing any kind of curves manipulation during the raw conversion process is always going to be better than doing so in Photoshop and the fact that it's missing seems like a big limitation to me.