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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

Interface. The interface in Aperture divides workflow into four sections. There's a Projects Panel with a descending hierarchal list of the image library. Projects, albums and folders are located here, and are collapsible, making it easier to pay attention to one area at a time. The Viewer compares and contrasts the main image or images that you're working with, up to 12 images at a time.

Below the Viewer window lies the Browser, which lays out movable thumbnails in contact sheet form. Thumbnails can be navigated by keyboard arrows or by the blazingly fast scroll bars to the right. The fourth section is reserved for the Inspector Window, where metadata information and image adjustment tools are located.

Along the top of the interface is a toolbar, which provides quick access to frequently used functions. The control bar at the bottom of the screen has icon buttons for viewing, rating and navigation. All of the above are removable for expanding the real estate of your image, and Heads-up Display (HUD) windows give you quick access to adjustment controls when viewing images in full-screen mode.

Aperture also includes a free-form organizational mode appropriately called Light Table, where images can be juxtaposed as a collage-like preview.

Adjustment. When Aperture debuted in 2005, it was really the first program to save edits as a separate set of instructions. This form of nondestructive editing freed users of Aperture to make infinite changes without ever affecting the master image. As a matter of fact, the master can't be altered in Aperture, so you'll never be able to accidentally destroy the original. This method saves space, as well, as an image doesn't need to be reproduced over and over again.

Aperture's tool set includes the essentials: cropping, white balance, red-eye, a clone stamp, color, exposure, levels adjustments and more. Another clear advantage with Aperture is that once adjustments have been made, they can be saved as a preset and applied as a batch process to one or more alternate images. I found the automatic adjustment features of Aperture to be excellent, as well, even with abstract images.

Output. Apple's product integration is one of the reasons why the company really shines. Aperture is no exception, with drag-and-drop image exporting to iWeb, Keynote, iDVD, Final Cut Pro and many more. There's also plug-ins that provide easy upload to a number of services, such as Flickr, and the automatic workflow of Apple's Automator program adds script and template output for repetitive tasks like image resizing.

Slideshows, a Book mode for publishing your work as a hardbound volume, and custom printing, even with direct output to professional labs, add to the advanced export offerings of Aperture.

New-Breed Photo SoftwareLeft: Aperture's Metadata Editor lets you review and edit pertinent information about your shots.

The Aperture toolbar (right) includes common tools like cropping and spot removal.

Below: Aperture manages your image and project library in a sidebar on the left of the UI, making it easy to switch from one project to another.

New-Breed Photo Software
New-Breed Photo Software
New-Breed Photo Software
Aperture is Mac OS X only. List
Price: $299.
Contact: Apple, www.apple.com


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