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Friday, July 20, 2007

New Breed Photo Software

Breaking from the traditional menu-intensive approach to photo workflow, these apps are designed from the ground up for the needs of digital photographers

Apple Aperture


Apple's Aperture photo-managing and image-processing program is the amped-up big brother to its standard imaging program, iPhoto. Similar in organization and feel, but with far greater functionality and a professional workflow attitude, Aperture takes image-making on a Mac to the next level.

Aperture edits quickly and nondestructively, ensuring a safe environment for your images from start to finish. Without the extra step of RAW conversion, RAW images behave just as nicely as other formats in Aperture, and even better really, since by their very nature RAW files offer more freedom in the editing process.

Importing. Aperture begins its creative approach to workflow right from import. You can set the program to download from any source, even previous iPhoto libraries, and then organize the images in one of two ways: by consolidating them all into the Aperture library or by referencing them from whatever random locations they happen to be in. The advantage of maintaining all of your images in one place is that you know where they are, even if it doesn't matter to Aperture. This can be more secure, too, without the potential for loss of external storage devices. The easy Vault backup system adds to that security by keeping track of new additions to the library.

But there's also something to be said for being able to keep your images wherever you want to, especially with Aperture's support of external sourcing (even with iPods). By spreading images, you can do the heavy processing on your desktop, while still being able to travel with your portfolio. Aperture automatically generates JPEG thumbnails of your files, too, and maintains them within the Aperture library, so even when the source material isn't hooked up, you can still browse previews or carry only the preview-sized images with you when using Aperture on a laptop.

Metadata, captions, keywords, copyright and contact information and more are customizable from initial download (and information can always be added later, as well). Photos also can be imported in groupings, called stacks, based on time intervals in between shots to help you sort images of the same subject and find the best one.

Organizing. Organization is as simple or as complex as you want it to be. Photos are imported into the library and from there can be placed into projects, folders and Smart Albums. Smart Albums collect images by criteria that you establish, such as ratings, keywords or even EXIF data, like camera model. Smart Albums are excellent search tools, and dynamic, as well, updating as your library of images does.

There are numerous other ways to link images, too. By adding keywords, either individually or as customizable keyword templates, you can do intelligent and thorough searches. Stacks also can be set and utilized to minimize the space used by images of a similar look, and ratings are easily added with the numeric keys.


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