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Aperture's Makeover Delights Photogs

By John P. Mello Jr. MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
Mar 8, 2010 5:00 AM PT

The new features in Apple's makeover of its image editing and archiving program Aperture appear to be a hit among photographers, even though the initial release of the application was so flawed an upgrade had to be released within two weeks of its launch.

Aperture's Makeover Delights Photogs

Aperture 3.0 (US$199) has more than two hundred new features, including geotagging; face recognition; spot application of editing effects; powerful presets for manipulating an image's exposure, white balance, highlights and color; and a robust slideshow function.

Users of Apple's consumer image management software iPhoto will see some similarities between its geotagging and face recognition features and the new Aperture's Places and Faces offerings.

Aperture Places
Aperture Places
(click image to enlarge)

In Places, Aperture will convert GPS data attached to photos into a tag containing a familiar location name and create a virtual pushpin for it on a map. If you drag the pin to another location on the map, the program will automatically change the GPS coordinates to correspond to the new location.

Much Enhanced Over iPhoto

If you use an external GPS tracker, Places will trace the paths of your photo sessions on its map. Geodata can also be imported into the program from an iPhone and used to tag photos that don't have geolocation information. In addition, photos without geotags can be dragged to a location on the Places map and the GPS information for that location will be added to them.

Places also allows you to group images by country, state, city or point of interest, like Acadia National Park or Turner Field.

"The GPS stuff is much enhanced over what you can do in iPhoto," photographer Jim Richardson, whose clients include National Geographic magazine, told MacNewsWorld.

Aperture Faces
Aperture Faces
(click image to enlarge)

With the Faces feature, Aperture can be trained to recognize the mugs of people in your photos. Initially a face needs to be identified manually but once it's tagged, the program can automatically find and tag other photos with the visage in them. Recognition isn't perfect, but the program learns as you correct its mistakes.

Faces can be used to organize and find photos. Groups of images can be categorized by the faces in them. Within projects, faces without tags can be displayed in a special Show Unnamed Faces pane.

Photoshop Substitute

Aperture Brushes
Aperture Brushes
(click image to enlarge)
This latest version of Aperture includes an arsenal of "brushes" that can be used to modify areas anywhere on an image.

Editing techniques such as burning, dodging and skin smoothing can be precisely applied. A "detect edges" option lets you brush an effect on an object without spilling into its surrounding area.

In addition, a view mode can be used to display an overlay of the area affected by a brush. That allows you to see if you've brushed all the areas you intended to brush.

"With the addition of Brushes, Aperture is nearly a complete replacement for Photoshop and Lightroom," Donn Enright, an Apple certified consultant and technician with DandyMac, told MacNewsWorld.

"The brushes can be used with nearly all adjustment features and has some preset functions to them as well," Enright noted.

"Photoshop is a magnificent imaging program, no doubt about it," said photographer Bill Frakes, whose clients include Sports Illustrated.

"The brushes in Aperture are so good, for the bulk of images that I do, I can do them in Aperture," he told MacNewsWorld.

Powerful Slideshows

Aperture Presets
Aperture Presets
(click image to enlarge)

In addition to brushes, Aperture has a number of "presets."

These allow you to do things like sharpen photos, boost their vibrancy, shift their exposure, change their white balance, restore their highlights and turn color images into black and whites.

Presets can be customized, saved and even shared with other Aperture users.

A powerful slideshow feature has also been added to the new Aperture.

It allows stills and video to be incorporated into a show, as well as multiple soundtracks, Ken Burns effects and titles anywhere in the production.

Aperture Slideshow
Aperture Slideshow
(click image to enlarge)

"It allows me to combine photo and video clips all in one place," Frakes noted.

"It allows me to build slideshows from within a single app very easily and efficiently," he added, "then export it for use."

While Aperture's new features make it more attractive than ever to professional photographers, its main selling point appears to be its superior ability to automate a photographer's workflow.

"For me, the most important thing about Aperture -- always has been and remains -- is that it is simply the most powerful archiving tool available," Frakes declared.

"I have a little over a million and a half images in my Aperture library," he said, "and the fact that I can obtain all those images almost instantaneously using Aperture is fantastic."

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