Added Aperture 3 to my dock this morning. I guess I can finally see what the fuss is all about, awesome things can be done with that Apple software. When I purchased CS4 last spring my biggest complaint was the lack of a good ingestion workflow. Bridge will allow you to ingest a card, create a primary and secondary destination, and label each file sequentially with the name of the folder and an i.d. number. It is actually pretty slick until you dig into your secondary folders and find out that the custom naming is only applied to the primary location. Gerrrr.
As a temporary solution I downloaded ViewNX2 (free) from the Nikon website. ViewNX2 is pretty powerful for free software and offers many features of Bridge and some RAW editing capabilities as well. The best part (except for the free part) is that it has a logical, ingestion dialog that not only saves your files in two places, it has a semi-automated file naming feature that ensures that both the originals and the backups have identical names. Pretty sweet.
This is all good, but what if you want to do advanced color correcting, split toning, exposure adjustments or sharpening while working with a RAW file? Adobe camera RAW? I swear to you that I will never use ACR again!
Aperture allows PHOTOGRAPHERS to do advanced processing to an image while still working with a raw file. This means that any revisions that you make are non destructive and changes are saved in rider file that travels with the image. Better yet, when you are done in Aperture you can export your image as a TIFF, JPEG, PSD or a bunch of other useful formats. This allows you to continue on to Photoshop or export a file directly to the web or into the image folder of a print document.
The presets that are included with Aperture are far more useful then any stock Photoshop action and the end effect is far better looking in many cases. Don't get me wrong, Photoshop is great and can be very powerful in the right hands, but Aperture just has a more intuitive and useful (and easier) way of working for real photographers. The only thing that I don't quite understand yet is the way Aperture organizes your photos. If you have used iPhoto then you should feel right at home, but I have been doing things very differently so it will take some getting used to.
The photo above was processed exclusively in Aperture and exported directly to this site. There is nothing spectacular about this photo but as you can see, you can greatly adjust the look of an image using only this software. I shot this in my living room with a single sb-28 in a 24" softbox on 1/4 power. The softbox is positioned just above what is visible in the frame. Camera settings are not important. The camera was on a tripod with a pc cord to trigger the flash. I focused and triggered the camera with a pocket wizard that is hidden in my clasped hands. In Aperture I desaturated and added some definition. I adjusted the black point slightly, pushed the shadows to magenta and the mids to green, hence the dirty floro light. The vignette is caused by a combination of the lens and the black point settings and is not an effect.