Improving Aperture

by Scott Bourne

I use Aperture almost daily. I have found that it satisfies 95% of my digital imaging needs. And I appreciate the fact that Apple has made tremendous strides with Aperture. In less than a year, Apple has ramped up to version 1.5.1. The company has continually worked to improve the application's performance, value and extensibility. But there's always room for improvement. And just as programs like Photoshop have been improved over the years, I have no doubt that Apple will work diligently to improve Aperture. So I've decided to help.

In no particular order; Five things that I think Apple could do to improve Aperture...


2006-11-28 07:33:11
The only two that really matter to me:
1. *Selections*. I want to be able to apply adjustments to only a selection of the image. It's a huge roundtrip to go to Photoshop, just to raise the curves on a too-dark patch.
2. Curves.
2006-11-28 07:41:01
1) Lens correction. For directly correct lensaberations vignetting, chromatic aberation and distorsioin.
2) Noise. More control for removing noise.
3) API for third party plugins. Not only for export e.g. image colouring/toning, color correction etc.
4) Better straighten tool. I like this one in photoshop or Bibblepro
5) LAB Color. I like to manipulate my image in lab directly in Aperture.
2006-11-28 07:47:03
That's an interesting list but it misses some of the bigger ticket items...

1) Raw image handoff to external editor/convertor. I'd like the option to let other programs do the basic raw conversion from within Aperture from time to time. This would allow folks to use Canon DPP or Adobe ACR for base conversions if they preferred the look for some images.
2) Better DNG metadata support. Being able to export DNGs *with* IPTC metadata seems pretty obvious.
3) Curves.
4) Grid lines. Every so often, I'd like to superimpose a grid on the image.
5) Lens correction. A tool (at the very least) to remove cyan/red aberations produced from some lenses is fairly urgently required.

That'd be my Top 5, I guess...

Steve Staskiewicz
2006-11-28 07:52:23
My biggest request is in the printing department. It would be nice be able to print multiple photographs on one sheet of paper a la Photoshop Picture Package. It is an extreme waste of paper (and money) to print only one photograph to a page. I am getting tired of having to export every photograph I want to print multiples of to Photoshop, then printing from there. Am I overlooking anything in Aperture or is this just not possible?
Duane Pandorf
2006-11-28 08:01:35
Along with #5 above, I would like to see a grid divided in thirds as part of the crop tool like LightRoom has incorporated in their program.
2006-11-28 08:01:49
I would like to see an innovate addition like LightZone's Zone system based on Ansel Adams work. This program has innovate features that Apple could improve on IMHO
Ollivier Robert
2006-11-28 08:12:21
Proper DNG support for all cameras that generate DNG. My pentax K10D proprietary files are not read by Aperture and the DNG are not either. That gives me only Lightroom to work with which is a shame. DNG support should not be limited to cameras OSX/Aperture support the RAW format already.
2006-11-28 08:22:10
Good list. Not sure about the rotatable crop box. Too photoshoppy for me. Never quite liked that combination, plus I find it hard to visually what the resulting image will look like with a rotated crop. Always need more than one try to get it right.

My list:
1. Simple vignette-correction (i.e. brighten/darken corners)
2. Dodge/burn tool, non-destructive of course
3. Sky filter, that given an horizon can control the brightness of the sky separately from the rest of the picture, much an ND-grad filter would in real life. Shadows/Highlights sort of works but not always perfectly.
4. Ability to configure more than one external image editor and the ability to feed that editor the RAW file if needed.

2006-11-28 09:31:35
Great list of improvements so far! Here are my additions.

1) Save User Defined Book Themes
Yes, I know this can be worked around (sort of), etc.etc, but it should be easier and nicer to be able to take a current book design and redo it to your liking and then save it as a new template.

2) Much Better Book To PDF export
I know Apple wants us to print a book and then view the physical item to see how it looks like, but most photographers would like to preview the book on the screen, and even send it to friends/clients for reviews/previews as PDFs.
Currently the exported PDF layout is nowhere near how the book looks in Aperture.

3) User definable Contact sheets(prints)
Printing a contact sheet of images is really poor in Aperture. It needs to be user defined like the Aperture books is, so that we can design nice branded contact sheets, and export them into exactly the same looking PDF documents.

4) Web Galleries Need a Major Reworking
The web gallery implementation really is 3rd rate, and needs a lot of reworking. This is some examples of what is needed.
-- Web layouts along the lines of Book themes/master pages etc.
-- User Defined web templates.
-- Rich library of Output options (variables, etc) that can be used by end users to create new templates (similar to iView Media Pro implementation)
-- Removal of HTML Table requirements, use XHTML CSS stuff instead. (VALID (X)HTML output, ie: remove proprietary HTML code)
-- Ability to use the actual File name on the exported images, rather than "Picture-1" and rubbish like that.
-- Ability to export the images only, or the pages only, depending on your specific needs.
-- Ability to export thumbnails, previews **and Hires** versions of the images that are linked to in the web gallery (to provide easy client access to download hi-res files if wanted/needed).
-- Ability to easily integrate the Web export output with any existing website solution, not just photographer portals, but bespoke systems that could be created from the flexible output options in Aperture.

5) Full Screen Views of Books/Web Gallery
Why can't we look at the Books/Web Galleries in a full screen mode, or even without the bottom "browser" bar ? This is really a major irritation when it comes to working on these two aspects. I feel rather cheated and irritated by the fact that Aperture 1.5.1 does not allow this!

6) Greater range on Image Manipulation options
Being an Aperture newcomer, it is possible that my MacBookPro isn't setup correctly, but the other day I imported a new bunch of RAW images straight from the camera and they needed a lot more work done to them in Aperture. I was running out of saturation on a few of them just to make them look similar to what they looked like on direct import into Adobe Bridge/CS2 on my 'old' iMac 20".

There's probably a few things that I've forgotten, but that's for another time. Hopefully someone on the Aperture team has the interest to follow this post and maybe even act upon some of the ideas put forward here ? ;-)

2006-11-28 10:18:20
Interesting list. But first i would like to thank Apple to start the revolution in the digital photography. I have been waiting for years for the computer photo applications to change from nerds applications for manipulation and curves to photo centric view.

1. I agree to most of the suggestions.
2. I am not to eager to get curves though. Nor I do like to sliders to adjust. I would prefer to get raw-level integration with Lightzone instead. I actually checked if it was possible but it is not. In the darkroom I dont think in sliders, I first test for the black point and print the picture. Thereafter I check if the white point and the gradation is ok. If not I have to increase or lower the contrast. Lightzone seem to be even more flexible.
3. I want to be able to print copyright on my prints in a easy way. Not by using external watermark pictures as it is possible with export pictures.
4. To print several pictures at the same paper as Steve suggest is possible today (select the pictures and chose contactsheet in print window (1 or 2 columns and best fit)), but I would like to be able to print several different sized frames of the same picture on the same paper. This is convenient for portraits of students, for example.
5. I would like to able to create, and change stacks in full screen mode since my laptop has a small screen and cannot travel with large screens.

2006-11-28 10:24:03
say it with me. TETHERED SHOOTING ! I know that camera manufactures would have to play a part, Nikon in particular has an overpriced app for this, but at the very least a plug-in from them would be great.
Mike Johnson
2006-11-28 10:28:55
Great thread. I would like to see the speed improved with a large library.
Helping Hand
2006-11-28 10:49:25
Because of the comments below, I looked into LightZone. Have you tried the integration between Aperture and LightZone RT? It claims to integrate with Aperture.
Matt Swann
2006-11-28 11:24:45
Lens correction (to fix wide-angle distortion, specifically) is the only task that forces me to leave Aperture's sunny pastures for the twisty passages of Photoshop. I'd love to see this functionality added to Aperture.
2006-11-28 12:08:17
Helping hand,
Aperture can export to external editor in tiff and psd, not raw. I want the Lightzone way of setting the black point, white point and change contrast. Hopefully this information is possible to transfer this information to the version file. I don't want to make conversion when I export to the editor, I want that much later.
2006-11-28 12:42:59
Only 1 - make it run on the PC. Apple are smart enough, aren't they?
2006-11-28 13:33:54
Aperture makes Bridge and ACR look barbaric, but there is so much more it could do. Here's my list:

1. Rename / manage master files. I should be able to rename, move, and organize my master files--right now I have to use Bridge for that, and re-sync as necessary within Aperture.

2. Fix the UI for the lift/stamp tool. It's very confusing. There needs to be a delete icon, and the tools should look differently or be integrated as one. Add/Replace is confusing terminology (if I've already set White Balance, how can I "Add" it twice) and should be appliable on each adjustment lifted for later stamping.

3. Allow all adjustments to be lift/stamp compatible. For instance, I can't just lift the saturation or contrast, I have to lift all exposure adjustments. This also adds to the confusion of the lift/stamp tool.

4. Add a vignette adjustment tool, so I can lighten AND darken corners.

5. Allow the "Show Hot Areas" to be placed on the main workspace instead of only as a menu option. Also add a "Show Dark Areas".

6. Add an RGB curves adjustment tool so I can cross-process and make finer-tuned exposure adjustments.

7. API for custom tools, so 3rd party developers can make the equivalent of Photoshop filters.

8. Speaking of Photoshop filters, how about some common filters like Gaussian blur or borders. We'd probably need selections for this sort of thing too, so filters could be applied only to certain parts of an image.

9. Actions. Allow me to group adjustment sets into an action that can be referenced quickly on the toolbar.

10. Let the export versions function run in the background (or provide a batch queuing facility), and if possible speed it up. Waiting 2 hours for 700 raw files to be exported to JPEG is a long time.

11. Allow the album design tool to make non-iPhoto albums. The album design tool is very good but limited to making iPhoto books (with a few templates) which very few working photographers sell. Professionals use Capri, GraphiStudio, Asuka, Art Leather, etc. in various sizes. The existing album design software (AutoAlbum, PageGallery, Digital Studio LP, etc.) is mostly expensive and cumbersome, so Apple could make a big difference here. At the very least, remove the Apple logo and "Made on a Mac" from the iPhoto books and offer them in the 11x16" size sold by MyPublisher, since its the same printer.

12. Add a black point adjustment to the exposure tool. If somebody can tell me the equivalent to this in Aperture, I'd love to know!

2006-11-28 14:19:40
I enjoy working with Aperture, but it is pretty much useless to a photography studio or to operations with more than one employee until multiple users can access a library, or unless adjustments can be embedded in metadata and read by other applications, like Photoshop ACR/Bridge

2006-11-28 16:38:35
I'd like to see the Aperture make tools available that resemble what you would use in a traditional darkroom. These probably imply some selection facility

1. Dodge and Burn
2. Healing Brush (a la Airbrush)
3. Darken/Lighten edges

And also:
4. Lens Correction tools
5. Continued speed improvments, especially print image.

Tim Parker
2006-11-28 17:50:16
It would be nice to have the option of using LZW compression for exported tifs.
Brent Miller
2006-11-28 18:08:57
I'd only like to see 1 thing:

1) Let users use the templating language to build custom templates. It can be done right now, but it's really ugly and requires the use of table tags for the html templates. Let your creative users use their creativity.

And for all the users who want "curves" -- you've already got them. The levels adjustment gives you curves, but instead of an x and a y axis, you have a bottom and a top axis. You can stretch and distort those to your heart's content -- they're curves.

2006-11-28 20:52:24
1. Support for image scanning workflow, which means ICPC dates prior to 1972 and image acquisition dates that are editable.

2. XMP import as well as export.

3. Faster, faster, faster.

Laurence Kelly
2006-11-28 21:12:13
I would like to be able to dodge and burn. As a photojournalist that is pretty much the only reason I open Photoshop now that I have Aperture.
Matthias Wassermann
2006-11-28 23:02:13
The file name of the main library is incompatible with NTFS formatted NAS drives. This would need to be changed.
Matthias Wassermann
2006-11-28 23:04:47
Exporting images to iPhoto really works. The only draw back is that the images are exported in a different order. It is very time consuming to reorder the images in iWeb and it does not make sense to have to do this. I need an export that will resemble the order of my album or project in aperture.
2006-11-29 06:03:39
I agree with all of your suggestions. For more "five things", check out the thread I started on the Aperture disscusions at Apple support. If I was on the soft. dev team I wouldn't know where to start! It seems everyone has their own unique list of five things they want/need.
M H Clayton
2006-11-29 08:50:03
The slide show should be able to do 'Ken Burns' effects like iPhoto does and should be able to include the caption in the slideshow.

Cheers__ Heath

2006-11-29 16:48:27
One thing I haven't seen mentioned here is support for organizing and manipulating HDR images ala Photomatix. I would love to see Apple version of this tool implemented into Aperture. I would love to combine 5 to 7 bracketed images in a stack and click a "Merge to HDR" button that would create a new version allowing me to control the shadows, midtones and highlights. Does anyone else think this would be a valuable addition?
Oskar Teichmann
2006-11-30 07:22:30
1. I'd like to see the file-endings (file-types) jpg, tif, cr2 and so on
2. I'd like to see the size of a folder (importing all new files to a folder named "_new". When I reach about 4.3 GB, I burn it to a DVD
3. PERFORMANCE - back from the desert with a lot of dust on the sensor, it's no fun to click - wait -click - wait . . . (MacPro with 2 GB RAM!)
4. A tool for lens disortion and chromatic aberations
2006-11-30 10:18:12
1. I'd like to use a better web export that allows me to embedd parts of the IPTC-information like titel or keywords or description in the meta-tags and alt-tags of the image itself.
2. Selective adjustments of a image
Mark Wagoner
2006-11-30 17:05:09
I think the main thing for our studio has to do with the fact that multiple people work on their computer or may be on a box some where else in the studio. We love Aperture but are held back by the lack of being able to share a master gallery to control jobs in progress as well as our archive. As Steve says below this makes it not practical for for a busy studio. It seems as if for someone working on their on it would be fine, but we have to all be able to access the files. Most photographers I know work with more than one person in their operations. This one change for us would be fantastic.

2006-11-30 21:25:02
Excellent recommendation on #3.

Another good feature to improve Aperture would be to add different type pages on the photo books. I use them a lot and find that some books don't provide the page format I need. I wind up having to use a page I don't want, don't use the photo or change the book to be able to use that page format. How about being able to pick and choose any page format we want on any of the 6 book choices.

Rob Kerr
2006-11-30 21:27:30
Audio playback for audio files created on pro digital SLR bodies. This camera feature has changed my workflow and I now really love gathering my caption information through audio. It is nice to archive the sound file with the image.
2006-12-01 10:56:20
6) Increasing DPI to 600 for book printing
Ed Fladung
2006-12-01 14:43:39
Hey Scott, i really like your column. great tips and advice. keep up the good work.

top five improvments:

1. In a stack, if i give the 'pick' an 'x', Aperture moves the entire stack to rejected. Wouldn't it be nice if Aperture automatically moves the next photo in the stack to the 'pick' position? but yes, it would be hard to delete an entire stack as easily, but that functionality could have a different implementation.

2. Add some kind of random noise filter, to add a little grain to the photo. when printing large format (24x32 inches), it's nice to be able to add grain to the photo keeps it from looking to 'digital'.

3. the ability to add saturation to specific areas of levels. for instance, when using the highlight and shadows tool to rescue the shadows, that part of the photo often needs a little saturation love, where as applying saturation to the entire image would be too much.

4. cross-process filters

Benjamin Nieves
2006-12-04 12:49:04
One feature Aperature could really use is curves. This tool is my bread and butter for image manipulation. Levels gets part of the way there, but I've found no substitute for the precise control allowed by Curves. The ablility to pinpoint the slope of the brightness curve at precise luminance levels is crutial. And when images are converted to LAB color, all sorts of possibliities open up.
2006-12-04 14:11:06
I'd like them to finally fix the RAW converter. I see the dreaded maze artefact and some related ones where vertical and horizontal single-pixel lines get broken up, in way too many of my images, where ACR and ufraw produce perfect images. This happens with mainstream Nikon and Canon DSLRs.
2006-12-10 18:16:17
Put me down for the Lens correction too ei- chromatic aberation control
2006-12-10 18:16:45
Put me down for the Lens correction too ei- chromatic aberation control
Roy Levien
2007-01-17 12:02:54
I agree with Edmund that the web galleries need major reworking. But before that, the simply need a some critical bug fixes.

For example, there are serious bugs in the code that generates the web pages from the templates. These can result in all kinds of strange output if you use any scripts in your custom templates.


Paul Shipper
2007-04-19 04:24:07
Would like to be able to share files using 2 copies of aperture with my assistant. at the moment we have to share that one machine to access all the photos would be nice to share the main library some how!