Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Photo Editing, Aperture 2 and Lightroom

Against The Sky

Like the leaf in todays photo it can be easy for a photographer to get stuck at this time of year. As the day light fades into cloudy skies, for some of us anyway, and the bright colours of fall fade into recent history, we can find ourselves indoors watching the rain hit the window, wondering what we can do to feed our love for photography. I've talked about finding new subjects indoors, and that can feed ones needs for a time, but for someone who likes to get out it can be stifling to ones creativity. Thankfully there is more than just taking a photo to making a photograph. Editing your photos in a way that expresses the way you took your photos can make or break them. A dull flat image will not be very compelling, but one that gives bright, vibrant colours can catch the eyes of viewers and draw them into your world. I think you can already see the difference in the two photos I've posted today. One has somewhat flat colour, while the other is rich and bright. I am trying to say something different with each one, and that is part of the power of post processing a photo, you control the message it conveys.

A World of Colour

Feelings of being stuck photographically can be overwhelming at times, making you wonder why you started down this road at all, and the poor weather does not help at all. As I go over my photography from the last year, several times over now, I can see a progression in terms of image processing. I do most of my photo editing in Aperture 2, on my MacBook Pro, but I have been using the Lightroom 3 Beta on my desktop PC. The difference between the two programs is like comparing a pine needle to a rose.  I have not posted many thoughts on photo editing simply because I'm more interested in taking photos, and what that entails, rather than with time spent editing.

I do most of my photo editing in Aperture 2, simply because I like the layout of the program, and how it functions. Lightroom seems to be a more multi-tasking driven program, as it links with Photoshop and other programs well, which may be why I do not use it. I like having a program with the tools I want built in, not having to switch programs in order to do one step and then switching back for another. I also like Aperture 2 because it is far easier to use on my my MacBook Pro's 13" LCD, vs. Lightroom which is almost unusable on it. When I use Lightroom on my desktop PC, with a 22" monitor the differences start to fade, but they do not go away.

There are some aspects Lightroom just outright bug me, like all the different tabs. Maybe I am just used to the way Aperture organizes files and meta data, but I find Lightroom to be all over the place. A tab here, box there, just too many things getting in the way of the photo I am working on. In Aperture 2 there is one side bar, and a bar on the bottom and the top, out of the way, leaving me plenty of room to work on the photo. Some of Lightroom's controls are more flexible to use, but it takes far more time to do simple tasks like cloning out a series dust spots than with Aperture 2.

To me the only real downside of Aperture 2 is that it is a Mac only program. I would love to be able to use it no matter what machine I am using, but I find it very unlikely that Apple would ever port a program like Aperture to Windows because it might keep people who are considering switching from doing so. On that note, Lightroom is not stuck on one platform, which means you can use a Windows machine or a Mac and not have to worry about whether or not you will know how to use the program, it acts the same.

I'll be posting more ideas about photo editing during the weeks to come, but that is enough for now.