The holy grail of post processing. A program the simultaneously organizes your images, keeping your from accidental deletion, ridiculous file renames, and general photo anarchy while allowing you to do nearly everything you need to do clean up, punch up, and export your images. That's what I keep hoping for in a photography workflow… one program that lets me make simple non-destructive adjustments to settings like white balance, exposure and crop, roundtrip to Photoshop when I need to, and let me prep and print, even upload to Facebook, all without leaving the interface. Something simple like iPhoto - but packed with options for serious photographers. And something that doesn't jam up my computer more than once a lunar cycle.
It's probably just coincidence that I was home recovering from childbirth when Apple's Aperture was first released, but faced with our first ever glut of pictures, it was the RAW editor/archiving solution that my husband and I were looking for. Seriously, who knew you could take 1000 shots of one little face in just a couple of weeks? The interface was intuitive, it worked relatively well, and years later my photog friends who live through the chug chug chug of Lightroom are still jealous of the gorgeous gamma vignette I can apply with a single click. At the end of the 30-day free trial in early 2007, I was hooked!
It hasn't been perfect, but I've enjoyed it. So when I saw the jaw-dropping features were announced for Aperture 3, I knew this was going to be the version that made all of my Lightroom buddies sit up and take notice. With over 200 improvements (many of them slight but thoughtful functionality tweaks) there's lots to be excited about. All effects now have built-in brushes so you can paint them on or off of the photo, much like a Photoshop layer mask without having to think about the mask. There are now programmable presets (with 36 built in) and curve adjustments. There's built-in facial recognition, facebook and flicker export. It'll even let you archive and edit your videos! MOMMY GOLD!
It's all GREAT! Except for this tiny little thing… it's not quite functioning yet. As much as the owner of three macs hates to break this to you, this should have been a beta release. There are some pretty serious bugs that need working out before I would dare recommend this program. I started out with a fresh, empty library on the fastest Mac made with more RAM than you even wanna know about, and it ran slower than my previous version. There's a workaround by taking it out of 64-bit mode and just running it in 32-bit mode, but even then I get the spinning beach ball of death more than I care to admit. Search around on some message boards and read the horror stories of the people who've tried to import their existing libraries (some of them well into the terrabyte range) and you'll see that clearly there are some 3.0.x.x updates in Aperture's future.
The good news is… what I have been able to play with is very promising. The presets are nice starting places and I still think they've got the market cornered on the gorgeous gamma vignettes. They've even allowed us to paint out parts of the images from the vignettes, which was my only previous complaint about that shining feature. But I need to be able to see my brush strokes in real time, or I might as well just erase with my eyes closed. And it would be great if I could do it without the random program crash.
So am I working in it? Yes. I'm an Apple believer and I'm determined to uncover the good. But because I edit video and motion graphics for a living, I have a beast of a workstation - complete overkill for simple photography work. With the trouble I'm having with 16 GB of Ram and 8 processors, I can't even begin to imagine how this program would perform on my laptop or even a screaming iMac. Let's let those with iron stomachs fight this one out with tech support first. After all, we do have sippy cups to tend to.
In the mean time, we must put our Indiana Jones fedoras back on and wait for the next promise - either a real update fix from Apple or a homerun from Adobe and the spring release of Lightroom. In the meantime, there are still too many giant boulders rolling around threatening to smash my workflow.