Sunday, March 28, 2010

Aperture 3 is a Big Fat Bloated Pig

I didn't want to make my blog just full of complaints about Aperture 3, but lately it's just so cumbersome that I can't help but complain about it. I had tried to stay away from this particular topic thinking that maybe it's was just because I was running a large library, but no. I've come to the conclusion that Aperture 3 is a big fat bloated pig. (Extra points if you know where the "big fat bloated pig" comment comes from, btw.)

I am running a MacBook Pro with 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo and 4 GB 1057 MHz DDR3. For some reason, it really doesn't seem like that's enough for Aperture 3. Granted my machine isn't the latest and greatest, but it's no slouch either. I spend the majority of my time in Aperture 3 waiting for it to process or generate thumbnails. The skin smoothing brush is near useless if I can't see what it's doing. I am literally writing this blog post in between brush strokes. Do you remember Doogie Howser? At the end of every episode, Doogie types a journal entry? But he types pretty darn slow. Well, it's basically like that for me when I use Aperture and blog at the same time. I'll make a brush adjustment. Flip back to Safari and start typing in the text box. Aperture 3 so totally consumes my CPU that it's even causing a text box to be slow in rendering. Seriously big fat bloated pig time.

There is some hope in the land of Aperture 3 with its promises of advanced editing tools. I have it on good knowledge that one of the engineers that I absolutely respect is now joining the iPhoto/Aperture team to focus on performance improvements. The team really needs help because right now it's near impossible to use. There are many days when I wish I can just go back to Aperture 2. (This cycle feels similar to Adobe Illustrator. They used to release a version with a bunch of new features. The subsequent version would be an incremental improvement but drastic speed improvements. Next version: features. Version after: speed.)

Here's a slight update to my workflow. I've separated all of my stuff out into two Libraries. One is my archive; the other is my working library. I import into my working library under a new project. Once I've delivered the photos, I'll export the project and then import it into my archive. My archive gets backed up to multiple hard drives and locations. Now when I'm working on files, I'm working on a pretty lean library.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Flickr Synchronization Woes

Aperture 3 inherited the ability to synchronize with Flickr from iPhoto 09. I was pretty excited to use this feature but after dealing Aperture's native synchronization, I think I'm going back to the Flickr Export Tool for Aperture. Creating a Flickr album is as simple as creating any other album so I won't go into the how. I'd rather get into what's wrong with this feature.
  • It deletes then uploads. Flickr allows its Pro users to replace a photo so it retains its comments and view count. With Aperture sync, the photo is deleted then uploaded AND it's tagged that it's been replaced. So now I fear tweaking any of my photos after I've uploaded because I don't want to lose my count and comments if I accidentally hit the sync button. This is my #1 peeve and my deal breaker.
  • No individual picture permission controls. While 99% of the pictures I upload are available to anyone, I like to upload the occasional pre-processed image. Then I link to it within the comments so people can compare without having the picture show up in my stream. Example.
  • It's slow. Aperture and Flickr initially syncs a bunch of metadata before the actual picture uploading. As the album grows, that sync gets longer and longer. I would edit photos, add to album, upload, and repeat. Now I'm adding a bunch of sync time every time I add some photos to upload. I would have been better off creating a local photo album, process all the photos, then create the Flickr album. It really doesn't save me any time. If anything it's just extra processing.
  • There's no synching of existing albums. It would have been nice to be able to pull all or some of my old photos in from Flickr, but there's no ability to do that. Aperture only has access to the albums that were created within Aperture. I deleted my Flickr login from Aperture, entered it back in, then lost the connection for that album between Aperture and Flickr.
It's not all bad. There are some nice features. It has two-way sync similar to MobileMe albums. If you add photos to a sync'd album, then Aperture can pull that picture in. GPS coordinates are also shared between Flickr and Aperture.

The tool can be useful as long as you are aware of its limitations and are willing to work within its confines. For me, it's just too restrictive.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Brushes and Adjustments

Fallen HydrantOne of the most exciting features in Aperture 3 is the ability to apply a mask on any of your adjustments by "brushing" them in/out. Having multiple adjustments and brushes feels very similar to layers with masking. In any adjustment panel, click on the gear and select "brush adjustment in/out." In the picture to the left, I made an enhancement adjustment, dropped the saturation and ran the contrast up. Then I used the brushed the adjustment off of the hydrant. The process was further expedited through the use of the "detect edges" feature. This first came out in Aperture 2's repair tool. I'm glad that this technology made it over to the brushes because on something like this photo with all hard edges I was able to do this in about 2 minutes.

Not quite content with the color, I then added another Enhancement adjustment panel by clicking on the gear and selecting "Add New Enhancement adjustment." On that adjustment, I bumped up my saturation and vibrance. This made the hydrant pop even further. Neat. So remember that localize color post I had a while back? Yeah, this makes it way easier and all native and non-destructive.

One of the side effects of having multiple adjustment panels is that you no longer have any limits to the max value of an adjustment. For example, the max value for saturation is 4.0. Well, if you want to go beyond that, then add another Enhancement adjustment. Now run that saturation up to 4.0. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

There's some really exciting effects you can create natively within Aperture now. For example, you can touch up the sky without affecting the rest of the image. I'm pretty excited about this and hopefully I'll do something cool enough to share on here.

On a completely unrelated note, explored some interesting spots to shoot in Seattle. Only problem is that they are best with morning light. Any volunteers feel like being my model at the crack of dawn?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Software Update

I'm now back to running Aperture 3 at 64-bit after the last update. I also recommend running the ProKit update as well. It seems to have fixed some issues around crashing when using the new brush feature. So far so good.

Aperture 3 seems a little more adept at switching between libraries. So I might take some time and retire/archive some of my old projects and just keep a library offline. It'll reduce the weight of the library that I carry around with me on my laptop and hopefully it'll also improve performance.