Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Aperture 3: Going Strong After 6 Months. Part 3 and an update

Read Part 2 First: Aperture 3: Going Strong After 6 Months Part 2

    I'll start off today with an update. I started this blog one year ago today, with nearly 200 blog entries in that time, it has been an interesting year. Hopefully readership continues to grow over the next year, and thank you for those who have taken the time to follow along. As in the past, feel free to leave comments and ask questions about any photographic subject. That includes if you need help choosing the right camera or lenses for your needs.

I know I haven't had a lot of interesting photographic stories to tell in the last week or so, but after my foot injury last week I've been rather inactive photographically. The situation with my foot injury has improved though, so things are looking up on that front. I wont be making any posts next week, because I'm going on vacation, and wont have internet access. I should have some interesting images to share when I return. I'll have one more post this week on Aperture 3 though.

Now onto Aperture 3, and adjustment brushes. In Aperture 2 there were only two built in adjustment brushes, one for retouching and the other for cloning. The tools worked well, but any dodge and burn had to be done via third party plug-ins, which meant that the images were exported to the plug-in as a Tiff. That as all well and good, expect you no longer could work from the original RAW file, so any and all editing you wanted to do needed to be done before you exported to the plug-in or you could loose too much detail.

    With Aperture 3, Apple introduced a number of useful adjustment brushes, and each one of them have proven useful over time. Being able to apply differing amounts of contrast, saturation and vibrancy to different parts of an image, rather than just universally through the normal adjustment tools, has been a huge improvement. When I was using Aperture 2 it always felt like something was missing, especially in this area. Since gaining access to the adjustment brushes I haven't felt the need for adding any new photo editing software to my collection, other than an HDR plug-in.

    Aperture gives you a great deal over control over how strong each adjustment is, which is a big plus. Not only that, the edge detection algorithm works extremely well. Only on the odd occasion do I have to go back and erase, what I would call brush spillage, onto a part of the image I did not want the adjustment to happen. I find the dodge, burn, polarize and blur adjustments to be the most important ones for me, simply due to what I tend to photograph. The ability to do selective noise reduction is also a big deal, for me, because the D300 will often show noise in blue sky, even at IS0400. The ability to brush out that noise is a great feature to have.

    The best thing about the new adjustment brushes is that they are non-destructive, which means you are still working from the original RAW file, so there is no loss of detail due to the adjustments being made. No more exporting to plug-ins or other programs to make minor changes, which to me means not only saving time, but money on third party plug-ins, which in many cases weren't very good anyway. Between this feature and the improvements I talked about on Monday, these are what drew me to Aperture 3 in the first place.

    When using the adjustments brushes you do need to watch your computers memory usage. I find that having 4GBs of RAM is often not enough when working with 12 and especially 14bit RAW images from my D300. When you run out of physical memory Aperture will just hang, and use up huge amounts of virtual memory. I mentioned a few posts back that I was going to upgrade my MBP to 8GBs of RAM, and the use of adjustment brushes is the primary reason. I'm not saying 4GBs of RAM isn't good enough, but if you do find yourself wanting to make a lot of adjustments with brushes, you may what to get more physical RAM.

There are still a few additions that Apple made to Aperture 3 that I would like to mention, and I'll be doing that in my next entry in a few days.

Read the Conclusion of this series:
Aperture 3 Part 4: Conclusion