Aperture Vs. Lightroom: Day 5 - Ready for the Web

by Micah Walter

port  001.jpg

I am officially overwhelmed by the comments I have been receiving. The discussions on the last two posts have been great, and some really great points have been brought up. I hope to answer some of your questions when I have the time, and I have already gotten a number of ideas for future posts based on your feedback.

I was glad to see a that many of you caught on to my approach for evaluating the RAW processing abilities of both products. My methods are by no means scientific, and not meant to draw any real conclusions. I'm really just trying to point out how a software package, and all of its variables can influence the outcome of my work. These things are pretty subjective and always evolving as I learn the software and gain experience using it in the field.

Today I would like to talk about the Web Gallery features of Lightroom and Aperture. I realize I am sort of skipping over two modules in Lightroom, but the Web Gallery feature is something I use quite often in my work, and so it is one apsect I am very interested in exploring.

When I first began using Lightroom I was very excited about its Web module. Mostly, I think I was drawn in by the fact that the Web module in LR offered a number of Flash gallery templates. A few of them were pretty nice looking to boot. But after playing with the Web module in LR for a few hours, I realized something that I'm not sure I can get over. I can't save a gallery. Ok, let me be clear. I CAN export my gallery, and I can even upload it to an FTP site directly from within LR (nice) but the most I can do to save the work I have done is create a preset. Please correct me if I am wrong, but I can't find any way to save the gallery after spending the time organizing and ordering the shoot.

In Aperture, every Web Gallery is an item that resides inside an Aperture Project. I can have as many web galleries as I want and they can draw on images from any number of Projects. To me this is a really great idea. Not only can I, at any time, go back and work on an old gallery, I can also export that gallery as part of the Aperture Project so that it will migrate to a second computer, or even to a client who uses Aperture.

Picture 3.png

Now that I have worked my way through many of the modules in LR I have noticed something inherent about Aperture that I really miss. In LR, I must make adjustments to my images in the Develop module--no exceptions. I think a couple of comments touched on this in the last post, but now I am starting to see some of the drawbacks first hand. One thing I really like about Aperture is the ability to make adjustments to images from pretty much anywhere in the program, including while editing a Web Gallery. With Aperture, all I have to do is hit the H key and I can make adjustments to images right there in the contact sheet of a web gallery. This is very useful for making sure all of my images look balanced when displayed together on the galleries index view. I also really like how I can drag and drop images around the web galleries contact sheet to reorder the shoot. I know I can change the order in LR, but it has to be done by moving the images in the filmstrip along the bottom--a minor detail, but something I noticed.

To be fair, I wish that Aperture had a few more themes to choose from for Web Galleries. Flash output would be pretty nice too, but I do appreciate the simple black template. This theme, with the right metadata, makes a quick and dirty web gallery that I am perfectly happy sending to a client for review.

Yesterday I was supposed to shoot some food shots for a local restaurant, but they weren't available, so hopefully I will be heading over there to work on it today. So, I ended up taking a walk through Portsmouth again and getting some nice evening light photos of the boats and fisherman, as well as a couple of locals. I produced this gallery in a matter of minutes with Aperture and you can see it online here.

Thanks again for all your great (and lengthy) comments on the last post. I am eager to hear your thoughts on the Web Gallery stuff. What works for you? Which is more appealing? Are Flash based galleries mandatory in your workflow? I want to know!


Romain Guy
2007-02-24 05:40:16
You want Flash export in Aperture? Wish granted: http://apertureplugin.home.comcast.net/
2007-02-24 06:15:31
Hi Micah, at first i would thank you for this very interesting test on the road. For me it's a daily date with it and i've almost addicted ;)
I'm on a macbook pro and i use a cinema display 20". I specify this because using a big monitor the first thing you usually do is enlarging your browser window. In this way you can discover a big difference between LR and Aperture Web Galleries. LR lacks of exif data but seems to have chosen a better stylesheet layout strategy. It's centered-fix. It means you can enlarge your browser window how much as you can and
the layout will be always well-centered. Doing it with your Aperture's Web Gallery you can easily discover that all the index thumbnails will shift far on the right of the screen, leaving alone the title of your set and your credit and copyright stuff at the bottom of the page. The balance of the layout of the index page is, in this way, totally compromised by this "liquid" shifting. This is true just for the index page. When you click for a particular photo and you are inside the web gallery everything works fine, even if, and probably it's a subjective preference, I like most a screen-centered composition. At the moment the image and everything is shown at the top-left of my browser window. The black background chosen by Aperture is a winning choice because offers a better and deeper contrast for text and image. I hope Apple will tweak its aperture's web gallery layout performance! Keep on testing!!!

David Medina
2007-02-24 07:13:11
I agree with Micah. One feature I do miss working in LR is the ability to go into the adjustment hood anytime anywhere. And that works with everything else in Aperture. At times I feel very constraint while working in LR, but I guess that it is something a person can get use to it. Also, I miss been able to use the loupe on the thumbnails and the two displays.

I don't use the web modue much, but Flash output in Aperture would be nice. Helps keeping someone from stealing photos. So far, this is the only thing this module has over Aperture's.

Some may say speed in making the web gallery, but this is due mainly to the fact that when you select a template, LR has to do some pre-designing in the back (a must for flash) and when you export some of the work has been done already. But I think Aperture could improve in this area.

At first, we were impressed with LR larger selection of templates (got a few more than Aperture), but after a while they all are basically the same (same as Aperture). But I guess there is no much variety on a web gallery except colors and how you do the columns and rows. Plus, in LR you cannot save your template mods.

One great feature from aperture over LR web module is the combination with aperture's smart web and the fact that you can save the mods to the templates and the fact that you can alter the size of the files you are uploading. This means you can quckly update growing galleries without having to go and create all the mods again.

To do something similar in LR you must use "quick collection" but is not as "smart' as Aperture's and cannot be saved with a project but must be saved as a "collection". Not as flexible.

One bug we found in our testing of LR Webmodule is that it changed the file name of every image when it ouput it to the web gallery. I not sure if we did something wrong but that was the result.

I wonder if you could create a template on another program and inport it to LR. I know you can do it on Aperture, but not sure you can do it on LR.

Two companies two very different metaphors...
I think Adobe started building LR from the develop module out (maybe because they had a starting point on ACR) and because they wanted it simple you got a very simple and straightforward way to organize your photos. Each module look and feel very indepedent with only the film strip to integrate them. Adobe forced an workflow order upon the LR user. For some, that may be fine and even a welcome feature.

Apple in the other hand, started from the beginning... how you import, organize and manage your photos and how the develop module and everything else integrate on that. Aperture is an totally integrated workflow in which you have complete flexibility on how you manage and work your photos. The result... a more complex solution but also more complete and flexible.

I want to than Micah and O'reilly for helping me understand better both solutions and in choosing which one work best for me... As you probable guess, Aperture is the winner.

2007-02-24 07:27:12
I've severe reservations about the LR web gallery - try to make your own templates, not just change the built in templates' colours. The two shipped templates (one Flash and one HTML) are all XSLT based. That might get the geek in me excited (not so much as Ronaldo's last minute winner) but the real impact is that it is too techy. Let's say I want my client contacts to link to an online order system, a common pro need. I can hire plenty of HTML hackers for Aperture, and lots of us have done HTML in our murky pasts, but XSLT is another league of difficulty. So I'd rather have Aperture's low tech albums anyday (you forgot the smart ones too). David Medina, please note :)

Now, as for saving the gallery.... Just because you can't see anything stamped with the name "web album" doesn't mean there needn't be one.... LR is more flexible. Just create a Collection called Webs and sub-collections for each site, or place sites in the same collection as the shoot, if you prefer. So the LR Collection is multipurposed - it doesn't need to be "just a web album".


2007-02-24 08:24:20
"Apple in the other hand, started from the beginning... how you import, organize and manage your photos and how the develop module and everything else integrate on that. Aperture is an totally integrated workflow in which you have complete flexibility on how you manage and work your photos. The result... a more complex solution but also more complete and flexible."

I think that's largely fair, at least the first sentence is. Aperture reminds me very much of Extensis Portfolio (Joe Schorr is ex Extensis and there are others there too), which is no bad thing, and it starts off from the correct premise that our problem nowadays is DAM *and* processing. Adobe has been very successful with LR where it's within its comfort zone, but the top man said recently that they were reluctant to get into DAM so it came late in the day. There was the big switch to folders which caused other features (portability via binders) to miss 1.0 (of course, if Apple had made such a late change in response to user feedback, there would have been no end of praise....) The incomplete DAM (mainly smartness and portability) is more a case of having to time the final release in a particular window. I'm in danger of getting into a "jam tomorrow" defence here....


David Medina
2007-02-24 08:39:15
keeping wit the "simple is better" motiff of LR, the gave us just "collections" (same concept of "Albums" in Aperture) and "folders" as a way to organize data. Simple, straightforward, but not that flexible.

Gio, the method you suggest in LR is a workaround solution to Aperture's "Smart web Album" and all other automatitation Aperture offers. It is more work and not as flexible as Aperture solution here. The bottom line is that in LR you cannot save the web gallery changes to your templates. That means if you want to update your gallery or create a new one base on some changes you made to one of the templates, you must create it again. Maybe is becasue of what Gio suggest Adobe chose to use as is web language. Don't know enough about that to guess. But that is a downer and I am sure Adobe is taking notes from all it users about this and I suspect some changes are on the way.

I did some research since my last post and I believe they may be a way in LR to add templates although I dont know how much work and knowledge is required. maybe someone can shed some light on that.

One thing I love is the excitment you hear and feel from the production teams of both LR and Aperture. I love to listen to their podcast and hear how they talk about their "babies". That is exciting because it is demonstration of their commitment to their products. This translate to better products.

2007-02-24 09:26:38
Yes I know that way - that's the XSLT issue. Geekwork - LR needs iView style templates - like Aperture has.

What's not flexible about Collections? They can be projects, or albums, or web albums. What's lacking is Extensis or Aperture style smart collections, and the ability to bind a collection to a web preset. Right now you save your content as a collection and the web preset separately (with the same names so you can marry them up manually). I agree that's a workaround. Making such an automatic connection is a small jump. Oops, that's jam tomorrow.


2007-02-24 12:01:50
yes, I REALLY love Ap's HUD's this is what make me love the program. Note you can also use Ctl-A for the inspector version too.
And even though I think Lr's print functions are better from what I've read, you can do it from anywhere in Ap.

Similar to the HUD's I love the Ap's interface is soooo versatile. In Lr. can you move the actual adjustments in the develop module to the left, or the center (don't know what you'd want it there, but you can put it there in Ap).

Also 1 thing that sort of bugs me abt Lr is the color scheme. It's best to view, edit your photos in a neutral gray color scheme. Your eyes perceive colors differently depending on the background color. Lr is too dark, compared to a more neutral Aperture. On this note WHY hasn't anyone created an app the has full screen w/ a gray background? - it doesn't seem that hard.

Oh and for flash output. Try the FlashAlbumExporter. You posted about it!

Hey, that made me realize, how does Lr handle plug-ins? Is there even an API?

I haven't et tried Lr, since its out of beta, but I'm gonna wait a week after my sister is done w/ her State Cup (Club Soccer, last year they came in 2nd) and I have my probably near 2000 images to process. It could total more than 3500, depending on how I shoot.

Well, Micah, thanx for this awesome series, and keep up the good work.

2007-02-24 14:12:08
Correction - in LR the collection remembers the last web template which was applied to it. So you don't have to remember to name them the same - IOW collections are automatically web albums too
Eduardo Mueses
2007-02-24 14:59:09
Awesome Stuff!

Guys, Guys, LR Version 1.0!! Remember?

"oooh Child, Things are gonna get Better!"

2007-02-24 15:17:15
The more I use LR, the more I think that the dev module is the only module (which is one of the most important of course) that make me think of a switch. But I would have to work on each photo again ! How do you handle the migration of your modififcations (not the metadata)?
2007-02-24 15:47:41
Thanks to all - learning heaps here and appreciate the knowledge sharing etc
2007-02-24 16:12:58
Lightroom automatically attaches your settings for the Print, Slideshow, and Web modules to the current folder or collection. So to save a web gallery, just create it as a collection.
Daniel Mendez
2007-02-24 20:31:02
thanks for reminding us about the flash export... when Micah first posted about it I was too busy to look at it and then I forgot.
it was so fast creating a flash gallery and it has quite a few options!
I think a good mix is to create an album and reorder the photos before calling the flash gallery export.

I also appreciate the fact that you can make changes in Aperture no matter where you are. I used this feature when putting a book together and making some final changes to some images. It did not dawn on me how cool it was to not have to leave the layout to make changes until I read the post... I guess I was taking the HUD for granted.

Daniel Mendez
2007-02-24 20:33:23
one more thing...
wil all the focus on Aperture and LR, I forgot to mention that you are taking some great shots over there Micah!
Thanks for your hard work in keeping up with the comparisons everyday after a hard day's work.
David Medina
2007-02-25 12:25:12
I echo Daniel comments too...

The Aperture's bookmaking feature I truly appreciate. It has a lot of control. I think that would be something Adobe could integrate rather easily on LR having InD and Acrobat on their side.

Also, thanks for the link for the flash plugin.

2007-04-17 08:24:12
one thing that needs to be fixed is when you create a web gallery in aperture and view it on a moniter thats quite big, the pictures float all the way to the right. at least in safari.
2007-04-18 00:22:08
Is there anyone useing Aperture 1.5.2 with Mac mini Core Duo 1.66GHz with 2GB of RAM? It's so slow comparing to LightRoom.

What do I have to buy to be able to run Aperture smoothly? Thx :-)

2007-05-03 07:50:01
Aperture web galleries are fine for uploading to newspaper editors only.

The style is almost studiously "1998" -- I would never use to show to anybody but a newspaper editor on deadline (NEVER to a magazine ed., client, ad buyer, anybody who expects to see either sophisticated -- or simple). Surprisingly ugly for no reason.