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All about Apple’s Aperture 3

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Aperture 3

BY DOMINIQUE JAMES

Aperture is Apple’s highly acclaimed and very popular all-in-one post production tool for professional photographers. With thousands and thousands of photos, you can trust this amazing software to do it all for your pictures: import all your images, organize them in any way you want, compare images and select your best shots, perfect and enhance your selections, layout and storyboard your pictures, share your photos online and elsewhere, present your final images in a slideshow, and print them in different ways.

Aperture has been around for quite some time now. And with Apple’s unwavering commitment and support, it has grown to become one of the most essential, the most useful, and the most practical tools for thousands of Mac-based working professional photographers from all over the world.

If you don’t know it yet, or if you have simply been distracted and have somehow forgotten, version 3.0 of Aperture came out last February 9, 2010. With more than 200 new and improved features, this new major upgrade is incredible.

You can be forgiven if you haven’t really given Aperture 3 that much thought and attention because its release date fell somewhere in between the time Steve Jobs made a huge formal announcement about the much-rumored, much-talked about and much-anticipated iPad, and the time of its availability.

However, despite the somewhat unfortunate timing of Aperture 3’s public debut, this product launch did not go unnoticed. Many, many people, and that includes myself, actually took note. As Aperture 3 bubbled up to the surface along with fully formed, updated, jazzy web pages in Apple’s site (in a manner that is very much typical of Apple), loaded with a number of multimedia presentations and information touting a handful of impressive marquee features from among the incredible 200-plus improvements over its previous 2.1.4 iteration, a number of current registered users as well as new and former users caved in to temptation and immediately signed on to its free 30-day full-featured trial offer.

As a professional photographer who have avidly embraced the Aperture workflow from the very beginning, and as an Apple Certified Professional and Apple Certified Trainer for Aperture 1.0 and 2.0, it didn’t require much persuading for me to try out 3.0. While I was quite happy with the current performance of the version 2.1.4 that I have been using up until that point, I was naturally curious as to what sort of awesomeness there just might be in the 3.0 version that can help me further improve my day-to-day photography post-production workflow. Naturally, I did not want to miss out on anything.

Here are some of the amazing new features in Aperture 3 that I like, which I think you’ll also like:

  • First introduced in iPhoto ‘09, “Faces” is powerful feature that is now in Aperture 3. Simply, it detects faces in your photos. Once you have identified and named a face, it scans and recognizes that face in solo and group shots from your entire library or individual projects. All the names of faces that have been identified and noted are also automatically embedded as keywords. For all the rest of the detected-but-not-yet-named faces in a project, you can use the new “Show Unnamed Faces” pane to easily add names. And, as you keep on using “Faces,” it becomes smarter and more accurate. The key advantage? “Faces” is a fast and easy way to search through thousands and thousands of photos for shots of certain people.
  • Most likely, you are now using either a GPS-enabled camera or an accessory attachment that can detect geographic locations when and where you’re shooting. The information about the location of your shots, which is becoming more and more important, can now be displayed on the “Places” map in Aperture 3. And, if you happen to be using a GPS tracking device, you can even map out the path of your photo journey based on the separate track logs that you can import. If, however, your photos doesn’t include GPS metadata, you can drag the picture itself right into the spot on the map where you shot it. Or, if you need to change the location of your shot, you can drag the photo on the map and the GPS data associated with it will be automatically updated. “Places” might be a bit fancy but the idea behind it is sound. As you shoot thousands of photos, it is not only a quick way to recall and pinpoint where you shot all of your pictures, but you also contributed in your own way in create an overarching view of mapping the world with photographs.
  • Using non-destructive and edge-aware “Brushes” in Aperture 3, you can now selectively fine-tune and apply adjustments to portions of your photos with a number of professional-looking special effects. With its precise settings in terms of size, softness and strength, “Brushes” gives you a way to easily apply area enhancements to dodge and burn or solarize specific areas, smoothen surfaces, sharpen lines, reduce saturation, intensify colors, or blur background. Fifteen pre-set brushes are already included to handle the most common jobs. This non-destructive and selective editing mode in Aperture is truly useful and revolutionary. In most cases, you will now be able to dramatically lessen your reliance on the run-around process of editing images with an external editing software.
  • Do you want to see how your photo will look in different photographic styles such as sepia or black-and-white but don’t want to spend much time on manual adjustments? You can now apply and view it in Aperture 3 with just one click using “Quick Fix” adjustment presets. The ready-to-use “Quick Fix” adjustment presets will do such things as: sharpen images, pump up vibrancy, perform quick exposure shifts, make easy white balance changes, and recover blown highlights. You can also convert original captures into sepia, black-and-white or cross-processed images. What’s more is that you can combine a variety of effects until you are satisfied with the results. And, to top it all, you can create your own adjustment presets and share or swap it with the presets created by others. The idea behind the coming together of Aperture professionals in this way is to help you discover really useful and fantastic adjustment presets that builds and expands the usability of Aperture to save you time and expand your creative horizon at the same time.
  • With Aperture 3, you can now work your way through all of your images, from project to project, from start to finish, in real “Full-Screen Browser” mode. This means that you don’t have to be distracted or obstructed with the software’s interface. The flexibility of Aperture 3’s “Full-Screen Browser,” with its vanishing HUDs, hiding docks, and melting panels, will force you to focus your attention almost exclusively on your photographs and in the process help you work faster and better without anything getting in the way. Because you can have a non-obstructive view of your work, and because you are able to maximize the computer’s screen real estate, your total attention and creative power can yield higher quality and more awesome final image output.
  • To tell most of your stories, specially when you are pressed for time, you no longer need to create a presentation on a separate software. You can now easily come up with jaw-dropping multimedia slideshows right from within the new Aperture 3—using all the materials you have: photos, HD video clips, titles, layered soundtracks—on professionally designed themes with its “Advanced Slideshows” feature. First, since Aperture 3 now includes all of iPhoto ‘09’s gorgeous themes, all the slideshows you have lovingly created are all automatically preserved when you upgrade. And, second, in the new Aperture 3 environment, you can use not only all of these iPhoto ‘09 themes that you like so much, but you have the option to use two new additional themes: Watercolor and Photo Edges. As with all the other enhanced or new Aperture features, “Advanced Slideshows” gives you fine control in combining still and moving visuals, creating and editing layered soundtracks, adding titles, borders and colors, and, even tapping out the time of your fades and cuts.

I’ve barely scratched the surface here, but after a few days of wading in deep through the more than 200 new features of Aperture 3.0, along with Apple’s new lightning-fast update as well as RAW and ProKit support that further enhances its performance, I am convinced that this $99 upgrade (or $199 for a new full version) is worth it. Though it may take some time for more performance tweaks and refinements to be added and for some of my favorite plug-ins to catch up (I’m already beginning to see updates from both Apple and third-party developers), I see no reason why I shouldn’t fully embrace the Apple’s Aperture 3 right now. Clearly, Aperture 3 has so much more advantages compared to its previous iteration that I don’t want to miss. I want to use it all now. And, because of its many innovative and powerful features, I can imagine that newcomers, specially those who want to upgrade their post-production workflow from iPhoto ‘09, as well as those who are coming back to it, will find Aperture 3 to be just as delightful as I did.

[Note: To learn more about Apple’s Aperture 3, and to sign up and immediately download the free 30-day full-featured trial, click here now.]

Written by dominiquejames

March 9, 2010 at 1:46 PM

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