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8 Steps to Developing a Better Workflow in Aperture

aperture.png

Today Mark Jaquith shares some tips on developing a workflow in Aperture.

Aperture, Apple’s excellent image processing and organizational tool, can really help take your workflow to the next level. I’ve been using it for over two years (to the tune of over 10,000 images), and I couldn’t imagine going back. That said, it is a complicated application with a fairly steep learning curve. And even if you learn all the screens and all the keyboard shortcuts, Aperture doesn’t hold your hand. It is a tool, not a workflow. It is up to you to craft a workflow that fits your needs. In the many months I’ve been using Aperture, I’ve tweaked and refined my workflow. What follows is the system I use.

Step 1: Importing

My number one rule for using Aperture and not losing your sanity is to never ever babysit an import. Don’t try to sort your photos. Don’t try to view your photos. Start the import and walk away. I put Aperture on a dedicated “space” in OS X Leopard to reduce the temptation. Aperture does a lot of hard work when importing, and performance is unbearably slow. Don’t torture yourself.

Because importing is such a bear, I recommend you do it all at once. Even if a card has photos from more than one project, import them into one project and sort them out later.

Speaking of projects, it might be a good time to settle on a method of sorting your photographs. I use a project for each distinct “event,” and store them in folders by year. I have smart folders for each month of the year. Remember that smart folders give you a lot of flexibility, so don’t make your organizational structure more complex than it needs to be.

I have a “To be processed” folder which is where new projects go on import. My projects stay there until I’m completely done processing them.

Step 2: Prepare for sorting and processing

Before sorting, you should turn on Preview Mode. It makes sorting a lot faster. Next, reduce the size of your thumbnails so that you can see more at a time.

Step 3: Auto-stack

If you shoot in burst mode, you likely have a lot of near-duplicate photos that you just took to eliminate blinking or to shift camera shake odds in your favor. This is what stacks are for.

aperture-workflow-autostack.png

Reduce the size of your thumbnails to give yourself a bird’s eye view of the project, and then click Stacks » Auto-Stack. Slowly move the slider to the right (be patient, it lags a bit). You’ll see your bursts start to merge together as stacks with a grey background. The goal here is to correctly group 80% of your bursts. Don’t spend a lot of time agonizing over getting the groups perfect, just get yourself most of the way there.

Step 4: Tweak your stacks

Now, go the final 20% of the way with your stacks. You’re going to have some photos that don’t belong in a stack, photos that do belong in a stack, and stacks that need to be split or merged. Remember that stacks are for near-duplicate photos. If you are shooting an extreme action sequence, it’s likely that the shots aren’t really duplicates. You could have someone running, jumping, and then splashing in a pool. Those are distinct shots, so split them out.

Keyboard shortcuts will be your savior here. Use the arrow keys to select images. Use shift and the arrow keys to select a range of images. To create a new stack or add an image to a stack, select the images and press Cmd-K. If you want to add an image to an existing stack, you just have to select the new image and one of the existing images—no need to select them all. When I’m done with a stack, I like to close it with Shift-K (repeat to open) to mark it as “stacked.” At any time you can press Alt-; to close all stacks or Alt-' to open all stacks. To split a stack, or pop an item off of the front or back of a stack, select the item to the right of the split point, and press Alt-K.

Step 5: Make your picks

A pick is the image from a stack that is the best shot. It is the one that appears as the representative image for the stack when the stack is collapsed. More importantly, you can exclude the non-picks from searches and smart folders, which allows you to forget about all those duplicate images (unless you want to revisit your pick!)

aperture-workflow-stacks.png

Start by expanding all your stacks with Alt-'. Then go through your stacks and pick the best of the bunch. If you select multiple photos, you can compare them head to head (depending on your Aperture screen setup). I like to use the loupe tool (keyboard shortcut: `) to examine the focus point and then flip between two images for quick A-B tests. Use Cmd-[ to move an image up in the stack, Cmd-] to move it down. Use Cmd-\ to promote an image to the top of the stack. Again, I like to collapse stack as I complete them during this step.

Step 6: Keywording

Keywording may play an important role in your Aperture library, or it may play a minor role. It completely depends on you. I photograph a lot of people—candid shots of friends and family, so I keyword people by name (in an “individuals” folder).

The way I do it is to start at the first photo, identify one of the people in the photo, and then scroll through the rest of the project looking for that person, and Cmd-clicking to highlight those photos. Then I use the Keyword bar to enter that person’s name. Then I pick the next person in the photo and repeat (or move to the next photo). This is much faster than keywording photo-by-photo.

Don’t forget to expand your stacks before keywording. If you keyword the pick of a collapsed stack, the non-picks won’t get the keyword.

Step 7: Rate picks

Collapse your stacks, and rate all the picks and standalone images. My scale is:

One-star: Keep

These images aren’t very good, but aren’t accidental photos of my shoes, so they stick around, but are usually excluded from normal viewing.

Two-stars: Show

These are for decent photos that I either have no inclination to share, or it would be redundant to share.

Three-stars: Share

These are for good photos that I want to share.

Four-stars: Boast

These are the ones (along with the fives) that I’d show people as representative.

Five-stars: Call National Geographic

It’s good to have goals. Not many photos get this rating!

aperture-workflow-5-star.png

Step 8: Back up

You do have a good file backup regime in place, right? Kick it off. I don’t delete photos from my memory cards until they’ve completely entered into my backup system.

Mark Jaquith is one of the lead developers of WordPress and an amateur photography enthusiast. He enjoys low-light candid portraits and is therefore loathe to remove his 50mm f/1.4 lens. You can see his photographs on Flickr.

Read more from our Post Production category.

Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

  • http://scott.menzer.org/photo Scott

    Great article! I have a similar workflow and it works great. I do like your organization of your projects, though, so I may end up changing mine (currently I have “events”, “trips”, and “other” as my most-used project folders and then describe the event as the project name — it works but can be tough to find what i’m looking for sometimes).

    anyways, i had a question about keywords — do you know an easy way to mass remove them? it’s easy to add them to many images, but i haven’t found a way to delete them. when i had a pc and used photoshop elements, i used to tag images for things like “make HDR” or “ready for blog” and then when i was done, i would remove those tags and re-tag it with something like “HDR” or “posted on blog”. any thoughts??

  • http://www.tellipsisphoto.com Christa Holland

    Thank you SO much for posting on Aperture! It seems like everywhere I go, it’s Lightroom & I didn’t get Lightroom, so it doesn’t help me much. And I love Aperture! Sure, I yell at it every once in a while when it’s not working like I want (or as fast) but all my programs get that treatment every so often.

    I do have one question that I would love to get some feedback on if anyone has the chance… is there a quick & easy way to correct color balance in Aperture? I use the eyedrop tool & usually that gets me closer, but (especially in low-light situations) it doesn’t always quite do the trick. Any thoughts? Thanks!

  • Nelson

    Over the past couple years I’ve gradually settled into an Aperture worflow based on trial and error and just getting a feel for “what works”. And Mark, you’ve pretty much summarized it exactly, step by step. Nice to know I’m on the right track at least. Thanks for your writeup!

    Scott…for clearing keywords (and any other metadata in general), the method I usually use is the Batch Change function. Select your keyworded images; go to Metadata>Batch Change; choose Replace (instead of append). Click the Keywords checkbox and you’ll see ‘Clear Values’ appear in the text field – and that’s what will happen when you click OK, all keywords will be removed. Or you can manually type in just the keywords you *do* want to be applied. But you’re right, Apple hasn’t made it easy to quickly remove individual keywords from an image.

  • Kari

    Could you expand on number 8 back up. While it might sound simple I haven’t figured out a good way to backup my aperture library and suffered data loss because of it. I’ve googled network backups for aperture but run into issues that I can’t resolve. Having lost 1+ year of my daughters pictures knowing this will keep me out the do house with my wife.

  • http://eh-notsomuch.livejournal.com Charity

    Very nice! I’m also getting into geotagging. My pre-Aperture workflow is looking like this:

    1) Download GPX data from my GPS logger.
    2) Copy photos to a folder on my laptop.
    3) Use GPSPhotolinker to save the GPS data to my photos.
    4) Then import to Aperture.

    I find it’s easier to do this first, rather than try to refresh the metadata or re-do the RAW processing in Aperture.

  • http://technicalities.mu.nu Teresa

    Scott – highlight all the photos you want to remove keywords from. Click on the metadata drop down menu, click on the Remove Keywords menu click on remove all keywords. It will remove all the keywords from the highlighted photos. Hope that helps then you can rekeyword as you would like.

  • http://hieuishugh.blogspot.com Hugh

    Been reading digital photography school for awhile now I am so glad there is an posting about Aperture workflow. I’ve been trying to setup a workflow for Aperture, so far looks good and similar to my current process. Has anyone use the “vault” feature of Aperture in their workflow?

  • Rick

    An Aperture accelerant is a good UDMA card and UDMA card reader, without which the extra cost of the UDMA card is diminished to some extent if not using a faster card reader. This helps reduce the normally painfully slow import process.

  • http://markjaquith.com/ Mark Jaquith

    kari,

    I wrote about my backup system here. In short, I use Time Machine for “oops, I didn’t mean to delete that file,” Super Duper for a nightly bootable backup, and Amazon S3 through JungleDisk for nightly offsite backups.

    i had a question about keywords — do you know an easy way to mass remove them?

    Scott, nelson, Teresa, here’s how you remove keywords:

    First click Window → Show Keyword Controls so that you have a text box to enter an arbitrary keyword. Select the photos. Type the keyword you want to remove. Hold down “shift” before you press “return” and instead of adding that keyword, it will remove it! And yes, you should be using this interface, not the keywords HUD to do your keywording. As another hint, you can press Cmd-Rightarrow or Cmd-Leftarrow while in this text box and your photo selection will move so you can keyword without using the mouse!

  • Nelson

    Mark that’s handy and I wish I’d know that about 2 years ago. I knew you could press Shift when clicking a keyword button to remove it, but it never occurred to me to use shift when typing a keyword in the entry box. Nice! Although for removing multiple keywords from a batch of images, I do think the Batch Change option might be quicker. But for individual keywords, your way is ideal, thanks for that tip.

    Charity…I’m just starting geotagging as well. I’ve been using Maperture to embed the GPS data, which has a nice Google Maps interface right within Aperture (no pre-Aperture file handling necessary), and can also import data from a GPX file. The downside is that it does cost $40; there is a free version but that version cannot import from GPX.

  • http://photography.back40canoe.com Trevor Sowers

    I love to see how others use Aperture!! Some of the things you do are similar to my approach others are new. You have given me some ideas of how to tweak my workflow.
    Bravo.

    We need to see more articles on Aperture (I like it much better than Lightroom).

  • LJR

    Selecting multiple images and applying a keyword does not apply that keyword to all those images, only the image with the bolded outline. To apply keywords to multiple images you need to assign a keyword to one image and then lift and stamp it to others that you then select. Alternatively you can use the batch change option from the metadata menu.

    As for back up. Firstly I don’t store my photos in Aperture’s library itself, it’s too much of an ‘all eggs in one basket’ feeling. I back up their referenced locations though both to my RAID array and also using Mozy to internet storage over night.

  • http://markjaquith.com/ Mark Jaquith

    Selecting multiple images and applying a keyword does not apply that keyword to all those images, only the image with the bolded outline.

    Look in the lower right for the box with the “1″ in it. Here’s an image. This is the “Primary Only” toggle. Dark grey means it is enabled. Click this to disable it, and keywords will apply to all selected images, not just the primary image with the bold outline.

  • http://www.imagesbyceci.smugmug.com Ceci Flanagan-Snow

    Thank you. It would seem that the world revolves around Lightroom and yet many, like me, have chosen Aperture instead and there is little info. available on any of the photo sites. This is a huge help as my workflow needs a LOT of help right now. Merci!

  • http://www.imagesbyceci.smugmug.com Ceci Flanagan-Snow

    As for back-up; I use Elements 6 on my MAC and use Bridge to import – photos are not stored in Aperture. While downloading, I have it set to automatically back-up all images to an external hard drive.

    Individual Projects are backed-up to DVD once all editing is complete. I do my basic sorting and editing in Aperture and any fine tuning is done in Elements.

  • LJR

    @Mark – Thank you!! Very useful!

  • http://www.digitalportfolio.co.uk michael kelly

    For backing up I use Aperture’s vault feature (to a firewire drive, then keep this at work) as a first line of defence, and then also backup via time machine and finally a carbon copy clone of my entire OS drive (incremental to save time) to another drive. doing this means backing all data (emails etc) including my images.

  • kari

    @Mark Jaquith Says: July 15th, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    Thanks! I’ll have to play with that. I’m looking to backup Aperture and possibly move it off of my MacBook. Yes it is my fault for using Aperture on a laptop. If I ever figure out a good way to get it off of the Mac HD I’ll be sure to post it in the forums.

  • http://scott.menzer.org/photo Scott

    Thanks for the tip on removing keywords — not as nice as I’d like it to be, but it should work. I just wish that each tag would act more like they do on Flickr or something where if i selected a bunch of images it would show me all common tags with the ability to delete them and even show all tags that appear on any of the images in a light gray or something so i could apply that tag to every image just by clicking on it. maybe in the next release??

    For backups — I use Time Machine to backup the picture files (not stored in aperture) and the aperture library file. I also do a Vault backup from within aperture after every major import and keyword/project/rating session. I back the vault up to my Drobo for safe saving. btw — love my drobo, highly recommended!

  • http://www.eclipsecommunications.ca Ceci Flanagan-Snow

    Here’s where I demonstrate my ignorance. what’s a Drobo?

  • http://scott.menzer.org/photo Scott

    No worries, I just didn’t want to sound like an ad for them. Drobo is a storage environment that allows you to put up to 4 hard drives into the enclosure and will automatically create a RAIDed setup, even w/different sized drives. This means that anything you put on the drive (it appears as a single external hard drive on your computer) will be completely backed up even if one hard drive fails. You can easily upgrade space as you have the money to buy bigger drives and you don’t need to have 4 drives in…I only use three right now.

    Check it out…it’s a great backup solution, especially coupled with a background app to push files to it on a daily basis. http://drobo.com/

  • Mark P

    I too have enjoyed Aperture having only started using it since May. I would like to hear more from others about whether they store photos in the library or outside. And I’m curious about using the Vault.

    I too have Time Machine, and am thinking of adding an on-line backup as well.

  • http://photography.back40canoe.com Trevor Sowers

    Wow ! look at the interest here!. I use an external raid (not a drobo but a western digital). I store my aperture library on that external raid and that way I can work on my library from any computer with Aperture installed. I use the vault feature to make a backup to another firewire drive. I apply keyword to many images at once by simply turning off the primary only button as discussed above. I find this primary only button is one that I use quite a lot to change the behavior of Aperture. I use Aperture to sell images at events I have photographed and I simply love the speed and versatility of being able to show a slideshow on a table one minute and then jump to edits in preparation for printing and then print with presets all in one program “VERY QUICKLY”. I am able to deal with a lot of customers quickly and can’t imagine being without Aperture.

  • Danski

    Another big aperture (and DPS) fan here, glad to see it getting some coverage!

    I too would welcome ideas on back-up with Aperture as I don’t really use vaults, my current system is to folder sync a mirror of the ‘referenced master images’ folder onto an external drive as well as backing up projects here as self-contained exports once I’m done with them.

  • http://scott.menzer.org/photo Scott

    from personal experience and things i’ve read, it’s definitely better to store your photos outside of aperture and just reference them. a couple reasons for this: 1) if something happens to your aperture library, your photos are still in tact 2) you can have them organized in a nice file structure automatically by aperture which makes finding pictures outside of aperture (if you needed to for some reason) much easier 3) backup is more intuitive since the photos are just files on the computer and not stored in the single aperture library file.

    the vault really just does a backup of the aperture library — this is where all of your settings, projects, albums, keywords, etc get saved — to another location, preferably an external or second hard drive.

    doing online backups is a great addition to using time machine, but if you’re like me and have thousands of photos, this could get expensive very fast. however, it is a lot more secure than just putting them on a second hard drive in your home (fire, flood, etc….) so if you can afford something like Amazon S3 i would recommend it.

    hope that helps!

  • Nelson

    I’ve been back and forth on the managed vs referenced library in Aperture, and since I have had no issues with using the managed option for the past 3 years, I don’t think I’d switch now. I do understand the worry of having all your eggs in one basket and what happens if something goes wrong with the basket. But for me, the complete simplicity and ‘set it and forget it’ nature of having Aperture manage the library is a huge advantage. It is, after all, the way the program was designed to function. I have on a couple of occasions had to go ‘into’ the library package and poke around for one reason or another, but really it’s been a problem-free workflow. By making deliberate use of Vaults (three separate vaults set up, on three separate drives, one stored offsite – plus the Time Machine backup), I feel like I’m adequately protected. Frankly, I don’t see how backing up could be any simpler than literally one mouse click, which is all it takes to backup 3 vaults. (I do have a gripe with the speed of vault backups, but that’s another issue. Or is it?…)

  • Nelson

    Correction…it actually takes 2 mouse clicks to backup the three vaults, forgot about the silly “Are you sure?” dialog box you have to go through….

  • http://www.pamelaeinarsen.com Paul Einarsen

    And another “thank you” for showcasing Aperture. I used to be a big Adobe fan until about Creative Suite 2 when the cost and complexity of the Adobe workflow began to be overwhelming. For 90% of what we do, Aperture is just a superior application for the ability to work with a single set of files and the straightforward editing capabilities. Editing is at least 50% faster than the old Adobe workflow and we’ve saved about the same in disk space by not having multiple copies of images to save. We’re waiting for Apple to come up with a multiple user strategy, but for now we keep job-specific libraries on the server and launch them across the network. The server is being backed up via Time Machine to a Drobo. When the job is done, all the unrated RAW files are deleted and the remaining library generally fits on a DVD-DL disc.

  • http://technicalities.mu.nu Teresa

    @Mark Jaquith – many thanks. As always there are multiple ways to do just about anything and while they all work, some are faster and better than others – but they aren’t always obvious.

  • http://blog.formidablephotography.com Mark McGowan

    Thanks for this article on Aperture – I hope it’s the first of many. As a lot of other people have commented, there seems to be an overwhelming preference towards Lightroom nowadays – I’ve tried both and found Aperture to fit the way I work the best, especially it’s integration with Photoshop and 3rd party plugins. However there does not seem to be a lot of information about Aperture kicking around. I’ve considered writing something like this but it wouldn’t have been a patch on this tutorial. More please! :)

  • Mike Arnold

    Glad to see this article on Aperture – hope it’s the first of many more. I use Aperture on my Macbook but learning the program fully is sometimes heavy going. A section on “Aperture Tips” would be very welcome!
    Great site, by the way – I’ve sent the link to many of my photo phriends…

  • JFINK

    I agree with Nelson’s method of using vaults. I have 2 WD external hard drives that I use to save the vault to. One I keep at home and the other I take off-site, in case of a fire.

  • http://scott.menzer.org/photo Scott

    I’d love to see an article about different methods of organizing within Aperture. I know a lot of people go by date folders/projects, but how do you go grab pictures from a certain event to view them?

    I have a few main folders — Activities, Events, Holidays, Trips, and Miscellaneous. Within these I have projects describing the “photo shoot”. Some projects that have more than one session, like my Christmas project, will have Albums within the project to separate the different years.

    This system is both good and bad for me, so I’d love to get some new ideas to help refine my organization even further.

    Thanks!

  • kari

    I guess I’m disappointed that aperture does not let you use a network share to store your vaults or library. It seems that referencing your photos is a better option because you can organize your folders in the same way you would aperture but you’d lose any meta data that is associated with your pictures if you ever needed to restore anything :-(

  • Mark P

    Since I’m thinking of moving from having Aperture manage my organization to setting up a referenced system, I’d like more info on why Kari says that meta data would be lost if I need to restore anything? Are there other issues when changing to a referenced system?

  • denzil

    very interesting read, like many others I would love to see more info regarding aperture. Anything regarding printing using aperture would be brill. DPS is really a great source of information and inspiration, keep up the good work,

    Regards

  • kair

    @ Mark P Says: July 18th, 2009 at 12:55 am

    It’s more a guess. I just lost 1yr+ of pictures and haven’t had the time to recover them and set the to referenced yet.

  • http://photography.back40canoe.com Trevor Sowers

    “@ Mark P Says: July 18th, 2009 at 12:55 am
    It’s more a guess. I just lost 1yr+ of pictures and haven’t had the time to recover them and set the to referenced yet.”

    How did you lose them?

    If you use Vault you should be able to restore your library from that.

  • hili

    here is a link to another excellent workflow description written by john thawley

    http://www.johnthawley.com/journal/2009/7/21/post-shoot-workflow-part-one-of-a-three-part-series.html

  • http://www.eclipsecommunications.ca Ceci

    Thanks for the link. I think Thawley’s system is pretty straight forward as far as importing. I like that he keeps his library on a separate hard drive.

    I just shot almost 2000 images this week-end at a horse show. I’m just beginning to sort out what I want to do with them. That’ll be today’s project. And probably tomorrow’s!

  • Nico

    I had been using Aperature but the library got deleted – no idea how. At the time, I had Apples encryption enabled, so as I shutdown Apple, I get the chance to clear items in the vault (recover diskspace)

    As I cleared the vault and later that evening rebooted my Apple, I found I had loads of disk space all of a sudden and ofcourse the Aperature library had vanished.

    So the advice is make a copy of the library.
    1. DO a search in spotlight and then
    2. Right click (control-click) on your Aperture Library and select “Show Package Contents”
    3. On the window that opens, go to Library, and you will see all your projects.
    (Similarly, select the desired project.approject, and right click again “Show Package Contents”.)

    So backup the library so you do not loose years of meta taging your photoes etc.

    An another note, here is a link on Storing photos External v Aperture Library
    http://aperture.maccreate.com/2009/08/31/introduction-to-referenced-vs-managed-in-aperture/

  • http://www.eclipsecommunications.ca Ceci

    Thanks for that link, Nico. Good article and the suggestion that a managed library could become huge is a valid one.

    I’m sticking with the referenced system.

  • http://www.fathersday201.com Neha

    I love to see how others use Aperture!! Some of the things you do are similar to my approach others are new. You have given me some ideas of how to tweak my workflow.
    Bravo.

Some older comments

  • Neha

    June 4, 2013 03:32 pm

    I love to see how others use Aperture!! Some of the things you do are similar to my approach others are new. You have given me some ideas of how to tweak my workflow.
    Bravo.

  • Ceci

    October 24, 2009 07:01 am

    Thanks for that link, Nico. Good article and the suggestion that a managed library could become huge is a valid one.

    I'm sticking with the referenced system.

  • Nico

    October 24, 2009 12:42 am

    I had been using Aperature but the library got deleted - no idea how. At the time, I had Apples encryption enabled, so as I shutdown Apple, I get the chance to clear items in the vault (recover diskspace)

    As I cleared the vault and later that evening rebooted my Apple, I found I had loads of disk space all of a sudden and ofcourse the Aperature library had vanished.

    So the advice is make a copy of the library.
    1. DO a search in spotlight and then
    2. Right click (control-click) on your Aperture Library and select "Show Package Contents"
    3. On the window that opens, go to Library, and you will see all your projects.
    (Similarly, select the desired project.approject, and right click again "Show Package Contents".)

    So backup the library so you do not loose years of meta taging your photoes etc.

    An another note, here is a link on Storing photos External v Aperture Library
    http://aperture.maccreate.com/2009/08/31/introduction-to-referenced-vs-managed-in-aperture/

  • Ceci

    July 27, 2009 09:39 pm

    Thanks for the link. I think Thawley's system is pretty straight forward as far as importing. I like that he keeps his library on a separate hard drive.

    I just shot almost 2000 images this week-end at a horse show. I'm just beginning to sort out what I want to do with them. That'll be today's project. And probably tomorrow's!

  • hili

    July 27, 2009 08:17 am

    here is a link to another excellent workflow description written by john thawley

    http://www.johnthawley.com/journal/2009/7/21/post-shoot-workflow-part-one-of-a-three-part-series.html

  • Trevor Sowers

    July 18, 2009 11:29 am

    "@ Mark P Says: July 18th, 2009 at 12:55 am
    It’s more a guess. I just lost 1yr+ of pictures and haven’t had the time to recover them and set the to referenced yet."

    How did you lose them?

    If you use Vault you should be able to restore your library from that.

  • kair

    July 18, 2009 05:42 am

    @ Mark P Says: July 18th, 2009 at 12:55 am

    It's more a guess. I just lost 1yr+ of pictures and haven't had the time to recover them and set the to referenced yet.

  • denzil

    July 18, 2009 05:24 am

    very interesting read, like many others I would love to see more info regarding aperture. Anything regarding printing using aperture would be brill. DPS is really a great source of information and inspiration, keep up the good work,

    Regards

  • Mark P

    July 18, 2009 12:55 am

    Since I'm thinking of moving from having Aperture manage my organization to setting up a referenced system, I'd like more info on why Kari says that meta data would be lost if I need to restore anything? Are there other issues when changing to a referenced system?

  • kari

    July 17, 2009 10:12 pm

    I guess I'm disappointed that aperture does not let you use a network share to store your vaults or library. It seems that referencing your photos is a better option because you can organize your folders in the same way you would aperture but you'd lose any meta data that is associated with your pictures if you ever needed to restore anything :-(

  • Scott

    July 17, 2009 06:08 am

    I'd love to see an article about different methods of organizing within Aperture. I know a lot of people go by date folders/projects, but how do you go grab pictures from a certain event to view them?

    I have a few main folders -- Activities, Events, Holidays, Trips, and Miscellaneous. Within these I have projects describing the "photo shoot". Some projects that have more than one session, like my Christmas project, will have Albums within the project to separate the different years.

    This system is both good and bad for me, so I'd love to get some new ideas to help refine my organization even further.

    Thanks!

  • JFINK

    July 17, 2009 02:04 am

    I agree with Nelson's method of using vaults. I have 2 WD external hard drives that I use to save the vault to. One I keep at home and the other I take off-site, in case of a fire.

  • Mike Arnold

    July 17, 2009 01:46 am

    Glad to see this article on Aperture - hope it's the first of many more. I use Aperture on my Macbook but learning the program fully is sometimes heavy going. A section on "Aperture Tips" would be very welcome!
    Great site, by the way - I've sent the link to many of my photo phriends...

  • Mark McGowan

    July 16, 2009 06:59 pm

    Thanks for this article on Aperture - I hope it's the first of many. As a lot of other people have commented, there seems to be an overwhelming preference towards Lightroom nowadays - I've tried both and found Aperture to fit the way I work the best, especially it's integration with Photoshop and 3rd party plugins. However there does not seem to be a lot of information about Aperture kicking around. I've considered writing something like this but it wouldn't have been a patch on this tutorial. More please! :)

  • Teresa

    July 16, 2009 12:11 pm

    @Mark Jaquith - many thanks. As always there are multiple ways to do just about anything and while they all work, some are faster and better than others - but they aren't always obvious.

  • Paul Einarsen

    July 16, 2009 11:16 am

    And another "thank you" for showcasing Aperture. I used to be a big Adobe fan until about Creative Suite 2 when the cost and complexity of the Adobe workflow began to be overwhelming. For 90% of what we do, Aperture is just a superior application for the ability to work with a single set of files and the straightforward editing capabilities. Editing is at least 50% faster than the old Adobe workflow and we've saved about the same in disk space by not having multiple copies of images to save. We're waiting for Apple to come up with a multiple user strategy, but for now we keep job-specific libraries on the server and launch them across the network. The server is being backed up via Time Machine to a Drobo. When the job is done, all the unrated RAW files are deleted and the remaining library generally fits on a DVD-DL disc.

  • Nelson

    July 16, 2009 04:53 am

    Correction...it actually takes 2 mouse clicks to backup the three vaults, forgot about the silly "Are you sure?" dialog box you have to go through....

  • Nelson

    July 16, 2009 04:51 am

    I've been back and forth on the managed vs referenced library in Aperture, and since I have had no issues with using the managed option for the past 3 years, I don't think I'd switch now. I do understand the worry of having all your eggs in one basket and what happens if something goes wrong with the basket. But for me, the complete simplicity and 'set it and forget it' nature of having Aperture manage the library is a huge advantage. It is, after all, the way the program was designed to function. I have on a couple of occasions had to go 'into' the library package and poke around for one reason or another, but really it's been a problem-free workflow. By making deliberate use of Vaults (three separate vaults set up, on three separate drives, one stored offsite - plus the Time Machine backup), I feel like I'm adequately protected. Frankly, I don't see how backing up could be any simpler than literally one mouse click, which is all it takes to backup 3 vaults. (I do have a gripe with the speed of vault backups, but that's another issue. Or is it?...)

  • Scott

    July 16, 2009 03:29 am

    from personal experience and things i've read, it's definitely better to store your photos outside of aperture and just reference them. a couple reasons for this: 1) if something happens to your aperture library, your photos are still in tact 2) you can have them organized in a nice file structure automatically by aperture which makes finding pictures outside of aperture (if you needed to for some reason) much easier 3) backup is more intuitive since the photos are just files on the computer and not stored in the single aperture library file.

    the vault really just does a backup of the aperture library -- this is where all of your settings, projects, albums, keywords, etc get saved -- to another location, preferably an external or second hard drive.

    doing online backups is a great addition to using time machine, but if you're like me and have thousands of photos, this could get expensive very fast. however, it is a lot more secure than just putting them on a second hard drive in your home (fire, flood, etc....) so if you can afford something like Amazon S3 i would recommend it.

    hope that helps!

  • Danski

    July 16, 2009 02:55 am

    Another big aperture (and DPS) fan here, glad to see it getting some coverage!

    I too would welcome ideas on back-up with Aperture as I don't really use vaults, my current system is to folder sync a mirror of the 'referenced master images' folder onto an external drive as well as backing up projects here as self-contained exports once I'm done with them.

  • Trevor Sowers

    July 16, 2009 12:11 am

    Wow ! look at the interest here!. I use an external raid (not a drobo but a western digital). I store my aperture library on that external raid and that way I can work on my library from any computer with Aperture installed. I use the vault feature to make a backup to another firewire drive. I apply keyword to many images at once by simply turning off the primary only button as discussed above. I find this primary only button is one that I use quite a lot to change the behavior of Aperture. I use Aperture to sell images at events I have photographed and I simply love the speed and versatility of being able to show a slideshow on a table one minute and then jump to edits in preparation for printing and then print with presets all in one program "VERY QUICKLY". I am able to deal with a lot of customers quickly and can't imagine being without Aperture.

  • Mark P

    July 16, 2009 12:07 am

    I too have enjoyed Aperture having only started using it since May. I would like to hear more from others about whether they store photos in the library or outside. And I'm curious about using the Vault.

    I too have Time Machine, and am thinking of adding an on-line backup as well.

  • Scott

    July 15, 2009 11:44 pm

    No worries, I just didn't want to sound like an ad for them. Drobo is a storage environment that allows you to put up to 4 hard drives into the enclosure and will automatically create a RAIDed setup, even w/different sized drives. This means that anything you put on the drive (it appears as a single external hard drive on your computer) will be completely backed up even if one hard drive fails. You can easily upgrade space as you have the money to buy bigger drives and you don't need to have 4 drives in...I only use three right now.

    Check it out...it's a great backup solution, especially coupled with a background app to push files to it on a daily basis. http://drobo.com/

  • Ceci Flanagan-Snow

    July 15, 2009 11:36 pm

    Here's where I demonstrate my ignorance. what's a Drobo?

  • Scott

    July 15, 2009 10:47 pm

    Thanks for the tip on removing keywords -- not as nice as I'd like it to be, but it should work. I just wish that each tag would act more like they do on Flickr or something where if i selected a bunch of images it would show me all common tags with the ability to delete them and even show all tags that appear on any of the images in a light gray or something so i could apply that tag to every image just by clicking on it. maybe in the next release??

    For backups -- I use Time Machine to backup the picture files (not stored in aperture) and the aperture library file. I also do a Vault backup from within aperture after every major import and keyword/project/rating session. I back the vault up to my Drobo for safe saving. btw -- love my drobo, highly recommended!

  • kari

    July 15, 2009 10:08 pm

    @Mark Jaquith Says: July 15th, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    Thanks! I'll have to play with that. I'm looking to backup Aperture and possibly move it off of my MacBook. Yes it is my fault for using Aperture on a laptop. If I ever figure out a good way to get it off of the Mac HD I'll be sure to post it in the forums.

  • michael kelly

    July 15, 2009 09:48 pm

    For backing up I use Aperture's vault feature (to a firewire drive, then keep this at work) as a first line of defence, and then also backup via time machine and finally a carbon copy clone of my entire OS drive (incremental to save time) to another drive. doing this means backing all data (emails etc) including my images.

  • LJR

    July 15, 2009 07:19 pm

    @Mark - Thank you!! Very useful!

  • Ceci Flanagan-Snow

    July 15, 2009 07:12 pm

    As for back-up; I use Elements 6 on my MAC and use Bridge to import - photos are not stored in Aperture. While downloading, I have it set to automatically back-up all images to an external hard drive.

    Individual Projects are backed-up to DVD once all editing is complete. I do my basic sorting and editing in Aperture and any fine tuning is done in Elements.

  • Ceci Flanagan-Snow

    July 15, 2009 07:06 pm

    Thank you. It would seem that the world revolves around Lightroom and yet many, like me, have chosen Aperture instead and there is little info. available on any of the photo sites. This is a huge help as my workflow needs a LOT of help right now. Merci!

  • Mark Jaquith

    July 15, 2009 05:55 pm

    Selecting multiple images and applying a keyword does not apply that keyword to all those images, only the image with the bolded outline.

    Look in the lower right for the box with the "1" in it. Here's an image. This is the "Primary Only" toggle. Dark grey means it is enabled. Click this to disable it, and keywords will apply to all selected images, not just the primary image with the bold outline.

  • LJR

    July 15, 2009 04:44 pm

    Selecting multiple images and applying a keyword does not apply that keyword to all those images, only the image with the bolded outline. To apply keywords to multiple images you need to assign a keyword to one image and then lift and stamp it to others that you then select. Alternatively you can use the batch change option from the metadata menu.

    As for back up. Firstly I don't store my photos in Aperture's library itself, it's too much of an 'all eggs in one basket' feeling. I back up their referenced locations though both to my RAID array and also using Mozy to internet storage over night.

  • Trevor Sowers

    July 15, 2009 03:18 pm

    I love to see how others use Aperture!! Some of the things you do are similar to my approach others are new. You have given me some ideas of how to tweak my workflow.
    Bravo.

    We need to see more articles on Aperture (I like it much better than Lightroom).

  • Nelson

    July 15, 2009 02:30 pm

    Mark that's handy and I wish I'd know that about 2 years ago. I knew you could press Shift when clicking a keyword button to remove it, but it never occurred to me to use shift when typing a keyword in the entry box. Nice! Although for removing multiple keywords from a batch of images, I do think the Batch Change option might be quicker. But for individual keywords, your way is ideal, thanks for that tip.

    Charity...I'm just starting geotagging as well. I've been using Maperture to embed the GPS data, which has a nice Google Maps interface right within Aperture (no pre-Aperture file handling necessary), and can also import data from a GPX file. The downside is that it does cost $40; there is a free version but that version cannot import from GPX.

  • Mark Jaquith

    July 15, 2009 01:40 pm

    kari,

    I wrote about my backup system here. In short, I use Time Machine for "oops, I didn't mean to delete that file," Super Duper for a nightly bootable backup, and Amazon S3 through JungleDisk for nightly offsite backups.

    i had a question about keywords — do you know an easy way to mass remove them?

    Scott, nelson, Teresa, here's how you remove keywords:

    First click Window → Show Keyword Controls so that you have a text box to enter an arbitrary keyword. Select the photos. Type the keyword you want to remove. Hold down "shift" before you press "return" and instead of adding that keyword, it will remove it! And yes, you should be using this interface, not the keywords HUD to do your keywording. As another hint, you can press Cmd-Rightarrow or Cmd-Leftarrow while in this text box and your photo selection will move so you can keyword without using the mouse!

  • Rick

    July 15, 2009 01:15 pm

    An Aperture accelerant is a good UDMA card and UDMA card reader, without which the extra cost of the UDMA card is diminished to some extent if not using a faster card reader. This helps reduce the normally painfully slow import process.

  • Hugh

    July 15, 2009 09:56 am

    Been reading digital photography school for awhile now I am so glad there is an posting about Aperture workflow. I've been trying to setup a workflow for Aperture, so far looks good and similar to my current process. Has anyone use the "vault" feature of Aperture in their workflow?

  • Teresa

    July 15, 2009 08:38 am

    Scott - highlight all the photos you want to remove keywords from. Click on the metadata drop down menu, click on the Remove Keywords menu click on remove all keywords. It will remove all the keywords from the highlighted photos. Hope that helps then you can rekeyword as you would like.

  • Charity

    July 15, 2009 08:37 am

    Very nice! I'm also getting into geotagging. My pre-Aperture workflow is looking like this:

    1) Download GPX data from my GPS logger.
    2) Copy photos to a folder on my laptop.
    3) Use GPSPhotolinker to save the GPS data to my photos.
    4) Then import to Aperture.

    I find it's easier to do this first, rather than try to refresh the metadata or re-do the RAW processing in Aperture.

  • Kari

    July 15, 2009 08:30 am

    Could you expand on number 8 back up. While it might sound simple I haven't figured out a good way to backup my aperture library and suffered data loss because of it. I've googled network backups for aperture but run into issues that I can't resolve. Having lost 1+ year of my daughters pictures knowing this will keep me out the do house with my wife.

  • Nelson

    July 15, 2009 08:27 am

    Over the past couple years I've gradually settled into an Aperture worflow based on trial and error and just getting a feel for "what works". And Mark, you've pretty much summarized it exactly, step by step. Nice to know I'm on the right track at least. Thanks for your writeup!

    Scott...for clearing keywords (and any other metadata in general), the method I usually use is the Batch Change function. Select your keyworded images; go to Metadata>Batch Change; choose Replace (instead of append). Click the Keywords checkbox and you'll see 'Clear Values' appear in the text field - and that's what will happen when you click OK, all keywords will be removed. Or you can manually type in just the keywords you *do* want to be applied. But you're right, Apple hasn't made it easy to quickly remove individual keywords from an image.

  • Christa Holland

    July 15, 2009 08:07 am

    Thank you SO much for posting on Aperture! It seems like everywhere I go, it's Lightroom & I didn't get Lightroom, so it doesn't help me much. And I love Aperture! Sure, I yell at it every once in a while when it's not working like I want (or as fast) but all my programs get that treatment every so often.

    I do have one question that I would love to get some feedback on if anyone has the chance... is there a quick & easy way to correct color balance in Aperture? I use the eyedrop tool & usually that gets me closer, but (especially in low-light situations) it doesn't always quite do the trick. Any thoughts? Thanks!

  • Scott

    July 15, 2009 07:07 am

    Great article! I have a similar workflow and it works great. I do like your organization of your projects, though, so I may end up changing mine (currently I have "events", "trips", and "other" as my most-used project folders and then describe the event as the project name -- it works but can be tough to find what i'm looking for sometimes).

    anyways, i had a question about keywords -- do you know an easy way to mass remove them? it's easy to add them to many images, but i haven't found a way to delete them. when i had a pc and used photoshop elements, i used to tag images for things like "make HDR" or "ready for blog" and then when i was done, i would remove those tags and re-tag it with something like "HDR" or "posted on blog". any thoughts??

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