Aperture 3 questions

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by rigberg, Apr 21, 2011.

  1. rigberg macrumors newbie

    Feb 24, 2011

    I've recently purchased a Macbook Pro and I would like to begin using a more sophisticated program for managing and editing my photos.

    I have a Canon T2i and would consider myself a novice photographer, though I have a rudimentary understanding of aperture, shutter speed, white balance, ISO, etc...I have read Bryan Peterson's "Understanding Photography: Field Guide". I have downloaded the Aperture 3, 30 day trial, and I am happy and impressed by the program. Further, I am OVERWHELMED by the program. I spent some time watching the tutorial videos on the Aperture website, which have been moderately helpful, but they did not provide the direction I was looking for. I am mainly overwhelmed by the editing options and was wondering if any of the forum regulars knew of good resources for learning the program, i.e. books or websites. I've noticed that Selby writes a lot of books for the Adobe programs, is there a good author that writes about Aperture?

    From what I understand, most post-processing is mostly subjective. Currently, I don't trust my judgement when editing a photo because I have this underlying feeling that I am "not doing it right". My thought process is that, "there have to be certain rules or adjustments that everyone uses...maybe a formula..." I don't know.

    Anyway, now I am rambling. Hopefully someone can help me out. I definitely appreciate your time and advice.

  2. btbrossard, Apr 21, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2011

    btbrossard macrumors 6502a

    Oct 25, 2008
    I think you'll like Aperture once you get used to it.

    Certainly one of the best ways to learn is by doing.

    Go out, take your photos, import them to Aperture and play around. The edits your doing can be turned off or reverted to their default state later if you decide you don't like them.

    Or if it all goes bad, you can revert back to your master file.

    Do you shoot in RAW with your camera? If not, you might want to look into that.

    Are you doing the post processing on your photos just for you, or do you have clients your working for? If the photos are just for you, adjust them to YOUR liking, their YOUR photos.

    ADDED: I would also keep your early adjustments simple. Concentrate on the basics: Sharpening, Straightening, Exposure, White Balance.

    There's no rule that says you can't come back later and do some more adjustments on your early photos when you get more comfortable.

    Also - back up your photos, regularly. A lot of people don't think about backups until they need one, then it's too late.
  3. rigberg thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 24, 2011
    I appreciate the input.
    I have been shooting RAW. I shot a couple of photos of orchids to use as my test/play images.
    I am doing the post-processing for me and my family/friends. Sure, I have aspirations to, maybe one day, work to a more professional capacity, but not right now.

    Thanks for the advice of "keeping it simple". I appreciate some of the presets that Aperture offers, but after I initiate one I get a feeling of "if I knew what I was doing, I could probably process this photo better" and "this is for people who don't know what they are doing to use".

    I think I've figured out the white balance dropper, but again, I have a difficult time trying to figure out which portion of the photo is the "right white". In terms of exposure, I understand how it affects the histogram and understand that if the histogram "bleeds" to one or both sides, the photo is not properly exposed. It would be helpful for me to have some examples of "healthy" histograms so I can try to manipulate the settings to emulate that. I've read about good and bad histogram distributions but nothing really explains how to get a good distribution. Does that make sense? When I use the sharpness tool, I have a hard time noticing any changes and because you can make so many tiny adjustments, I feel overwhelmed by it and end up leaving it alone.

    I know I must seem neurotic.

    Finally, between work and raising an infant, I do not have as much time as I would like to spend learning a new program. Hence, my desire for some sort of guide that could streamline the learning process.

    Thanks again for your suggestions.
  4. btbrossard macrumors 6502a

    Oct 25, 2008
    Everything with photography is really subjective, as you mentioned.

    I could tell you exactly what I do to my photos, and to you they would look like junk.

    I don't have any Aperture books, so I can't recommend one. I'm up to my ears in Adobe books, but no Aperture ones.

    As far as sharpening, each camera is different as to how much sharpening is needed. My wife and I have an XS and a 7D. The images from the XS (RAW) are always pretty good and need minimal sharpening (the standard .50 strength and 1 radius is fine). The 7D needs more post process sharpening, so for most images we end up using something like .75 strength and 3 for the radius.

    As far as the histogram goes, for starters I wouldn't worry too much about it. Adjust the images to your liking. When you get going, then take a look at the histogram if you want and use that for a guide.

    Just like in Photoshop, there are many ways to get to the same end. I work in a department of about 10 people and if you asked each one of us to adjust an image to match a proof or whatnot, all 10 of us would go about it differently. The final product would probably look similar, but the path to get there would be diverse.

    Here's an attachment of a histogram on one of my photos. Probably a horror show, but I thought the photo was decent...

    Attached Files:

  5. VirtualRain, Apr 21, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2011

    VirtualRain macrumors 603


    Aug 1, 2008
    Vancouver, BC
    I would suggest starting with the Apple video tutorials...

    That's all I needed to get going. From there I've picked up a additional techniques along the way by searching online for more information, reading the manual, experimenting with a given adjustment on some photos to see how it works, and asking questions on forums like this.

    If you want to pay for more video learning, this is apparently very good (but I haven't used it myself)

    In general there are a few things you want to do to a picture, and your eye, the loop, and the historgram are the best way to determine what's right...

    1. Level the horizon
    2. Crop it if necessary
    3. White balance (for me: almost always required for indoor shots since I shoot RAW and AWB which Canon camers never get right. AWB works perfect outdoors and I never adjust WB in Aperture for outdoor shots)
    4. Exposure - using either curves (auto to start with some fine tuning), or the exposure brick. For outdoor daytime shots I try to ensure my histogram is filling the full range and the subject is appropriately exposed. Sometimes I use the highlights and shadows sliders to help in very high dynamic range scenes.
    5. Saturation and Vibrancy - but often getting the contrast right (with the exposure) first is important before getting carried away here
    6. Sharpening - use the loop at 100% when adjusting sharpening to identify when artifacts are being introduced - I use the old school sharpening tool in Aperture (which mimics the Sharpening Canon applies) as I find it has less artifacts. Many people prefer the Edge Sharpen tool which works more like unsharpen mask in Photoshop.

    Good luck! :)
  6. fcortese macrumors demi-god


    Apr 3, 2010
    Big Sky country
    I have found ApertureExpert to be an invaluable source of info and help. They have cheap ($2 per download) training sessions on the file management and labeling side of the system. Go to www.apertureexpert.com and check it out. Their user forum has good info as well and they do offer some download-able books and guides as well.
  7. Ruahrc, Apr 21, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2011

    Ruahrc macrumors 65816

    Jun 9, 2009
    I think the issue you're having is that you're looking for objective answers to subjective questions. Unless you're shooting a wedding or ads, there is no "right white" in any photo, it's the white what *you* want it to be. There is no such thing as a "healthy" histogram as it is heavily dependent on the image content and the mood the photographer was looking for (i.e. a high key photo will have a large bias to the right, but that doesn't necessarily mean it is wrong). Sharpening is usually a balance between extracting maximum detail from the image without overenhancing the noise.

    There is no formula, you will have to develop these intuitions for yourself over time, based on your style and what you aim for in your photography. The nice thing about Aperture (or any modern RAW editor) is that any edit you apply is non-destructive and you can return to the same image months or years later and re-process it as your skills develop. I feel like I was somewhat in your shoes early on too- I tried to make every image "correct" and "accurate" and "realistic", but as I developed my photographic vision and PP skills further, I bean to make more subjective decisions on the images (i.e. purposefully warming or cooling the WB, purposely increasing the saturation, selectively only sharpening parts of the image, etc.).

    Also remember that it is not necessary to apply every adjustment to every photo. Some pictures will need some contrast adjustment, others will not. If you just do down in a row and try to make some change to the picture using each tool, you'll usually end up with something overprocessed. That's working it backwards. You are starting with your RAW picture, and looking for a result. You should be doing the opposite- envisioning the final result in your head and working the controls to change that RAW photo to match what you envision.

  8. rigberg thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 24, 2011
    Thank you all for your input. Each individual has brought a unique perspective that has helped me better understand the process.

    I especially enjoy the notion that I was "working backwards" in trying to make small adjustments because the sliders were available to adjust. I appreciate the notion of editing with a final product or vision in mind.

    I also have to learn to trust my subjectivity. I think that, due to my inexperience, I do not have a lot of confidence in creative photography. My initial purpose in wanting to use a RAW editor like Aperture was to "fix" any flaws in my photos and I was looking for help to either a) identify the flaws or b) have an objective procedure to make the photo look it's absolute best. My concern though, is that often, I take photos and think they look fine as the camera records them. I have no doubt that a seasoned editor would be able to adjust my photos well.

    I guess the question is, how do you know when a photo needs to be edited. For example, attached is stated photo of an orchid. I am rather happy with the way it turned out. The depth of focus present and I wanted to intentionally include the blue note in the background. This is an unedited photo. What does the community think?


    Uploaded with ImageShack.us

    Thanks again to everyone.

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