Image management - Aperture or something else?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by skerfoot, May 9, 2010.

  1. skerfoot macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2010
    #1
    I need some advice from people who deal with images a lot. I say "Images", rather than "Photos", because my needs are a bit different from photographers, but I think similar enough that people here will know the answer. I've read most of the related threads here, and I can't find the answer to my specific question. It starts out sounding like the same thing as discussed before, but it's not, so please bear with me.

    I'm looking for a way to better organize a large number of images (microscopy images, if that helps). Currently, I have them organized in subfolders, roughly by date, group and various subgroups. I've been reading everything I can about Aperture 3, and I understand that it works by adding tags to photos, and then using the tags to "organize" them later. I understand that it doesn't organize the files themselves (i.e. move them around).

    My question has to do with the actual file organization. Can I just load the image files into Aperture as they are (i.e. in their current folders and subfolders), or does Aperture require that the image files be stored in one place? Could I have a library of family photos stored in the standard Photos folder, and then have separate libraries of work images stored elsewhere in documents? Does Aperture rename the image files? Is there a limit to the number of libraries that can be managed?

    For the stuff I'm doing, the workflow features designed for photographers wouldn't be that useful to me, so is there something more appropriate out there?

    Thanks
     
  2. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus

    robbieduncan

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2002
    Location:
    London
    #2
    Aperture can deal with managed (i.e. it copies them all into it's structure) or referenced masters. It's won't change the file names of referenced masters. But unless you are using all the photography features I can't see that Aperture would be the best solution. What would be I don't know though...
     
  3. SoCalRich macrumors 6502

    SoCalRich

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2010
    Location:
    NorCal
    #3
    What type of file formats are you working with? jpeg, tiff, raw? I think what you are looking for is a good Data Base Image Organizer. If you use one of the above file formats then I don't see why Lightroom 2 won't work for you. It is a very sophisticated data base manager. You can keep your current file system and the LR data base will keep track. Just make sure you do any moves etc in the Lightroom program. I think it's versatility and power supersedes Aperture quite a bit.

    Find some reviews comparing the data base capabilities of each and then make your decision. I personally like the customizable file structure features Lightroom has to offer.
     
  4. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2009
    #4
    I guess it really depends on what you want to be able to do with this collection. Do you want to be able to search it via keywords? Or just organize them such that it will be easy to find the ones you want (given you will know the date, etc. that you need). My take is that if you're going microscope images, chances are the edits you are making are going to be minimal (scientific integrity) so even these kinds of programs may be overkill. Have you tried iPhoto?

    I agree personally I think LR is better WRT organization because you don't need to give up your filestructure to Aperture's "vault" system. But maybe Aperture has an option for doing this too?

    Perhaps there are alternates like Photo Mechanic? Or simply just a robust system of folders and quicklook (typically what I do with my scientific files).

    Like I said earlier, it would be helpful to know what exactly you find deficient with your current system, and what requirements you would like to have in an ideal organization scheme.
     
  5. skerfoot thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2010
    #5
    Thanks for the helpful replies.

    I'm working with .tiff images, and as pointed out, image manipulation is not what I'm looking for. The images are assembled in Photoshop (multiple color channels etc), and it can obviously more than handle anything I need to do.

    What I'd really like is a way to scroll through images in an organized way without having to fish through every subfolder manually and open a bunch of photoshop windows at once. I'm not having a problem finding things, as my system of naming, folders and subfolders is pretty foolproof, but I'd like to believe that there's a better way. Admittedly, if a file got displaced from it's proper folder, it would be hard to find again (file names can only be so long and descriptive.)(Disclaimer to other scientists out there - yes, of course there are original backups that I can go to to find/confirm that I've got the right document). I'm certainly not opposed to storing files in a different way going forward, but I'm not very excited about re-formatting everything that I've already done (but will if it's worth it).

    I like the sound of an image database program, and I'd appreciate any suggestions. I'll take a look at Light Table, to see if it's something that would work better for me. The name's familiar from all of the Aperture vs Light Table threads, but this wasn't one of the features most debated.

    Thanks
     
  6. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2001
    Location:
    Sendai, Japan
    #6
    Aperture and Lightroom are both very sophisticated apps. When it comes to file management, Aperture is admittedly more flexible than Lightroom in this area as it either allows you to manage the locations of your files automatically or manually (a few members who have posted here have gotten this wrong, claiming you are `locked into Aperture's vault system'). You can change this on a per-file-basis if you so desire. Lightroom just doesn't have an option to manage the files for you.

    However, if you don't want any program to handle your files, this advantage of Aperture won't matter much. Both apps allow you to assign tags, stack images (i. e. grouping multiple images together), make albums (e. g. one for each journal article/poster/project/thesis) and so forth.

    Regarding the original questions of the OP:
    (1) Aperture easily allows for multiple sources and only moves files if you want it to. Images can be managed: then when they are imported, they are copied into the Aperture Library and you don't need to take care of creating folders, etc. The internal structure corresponds to the folder/project structure within your Aperture library.

    Or you can work with `referenced images:' then Aperture leaves the images where they are and only a link is stored in the Aperture library. You can source files from different folders, volumes and you can even work with offline images (e. g. that you store on an external harddrive). Since previews are stored within the Aperture library, you can still sort and tag those images. But obviously, you cannot edit them unless the external harddrive is connected.

    You can mix both modes as you see fit. Perhaps you want your personal photos managed and your professional photos referenced? Not a problem. You can even change this on a per-file-level.
    (2) If you work in referenced mode, your files are not renamed upon import. You can rename the files, though, if you so desire. If you export images, you can choose a way to name files (e. g. original name, date + time, project name + number, etc.).
    (3) Aperture also supports multiple libraries (work vs. personal?). I'm not aware of any limit on the number of libraries but your harddrive size ;)
    (4) Aperture's way of storing images works as follows: the original files belong to exactly one project. They can belong to arbitrarily many albums, books, etc.
    (5) One thing you didn't ask about, but is important, are vaults. Vaults have been mentioned in the wrong context, though. Vaults are Aperture's way of making backups (in addition to, say, Time Machine or whatever you use to make backups). You create vaults on other (preferably external) harddrives or network volumes and you can sync your library with your vaults. Note the plural: you can create as many as you'd like. (To my knowledge, Lightroom isn't that flexible when it comes to backups.)

    Note that with the exception of managed libraries and vaults, you can do all of this with Lightroom, too. You should try both apps. Keep in mind, they're both pro apps and have some learning curve, hence don't give up early (iMovie vs. Final Cut/Adobe Premiere corresponds to iPhoto vs. Aperture/Lightroom).
     
  7. telecomm macrumors 65816

    telecomm

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2003
    Location:
    Rome
    #7
    This is also wrong (rivalled only by the mistaken "Aperture doesn't let you manage your own files"). :D

    Lightroom can be set to automatically organize the photos you import by date (using the folder structure you chose from a list which offers options like Year/Month/Day, Year/Month-Day, etc.).

    I think in the end the difference between the Lightroom/Aperture auto-organization amounts to whether or not your files are organized in a hidden but accessible package (Aperture) or a structure that isn't hidden (Lightroom).

    In the end, one's preference for one or the other application isn't likely to turn on this point.
     
  8. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2001
    Location:
    Sendai, Japan
    #8
    I stand corrected.
    Just a question: what do you mean by that? Do you mean that Lightroom just copies files to a certain directory (which you have to explicitly give) if you import photos from, say, a memory card? This is what would happen if you import photos in referenced mode in Aperture as well. It then gives you an option whether you would like to rename files (according to your preferences).

    Or do you mean something else?
    That's a good point.
     
  9. telecomm macrumors 65816

    telecomm

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2003
    Location:
    Rome
    #9
    You don't have to give an explicit folder name/location (but there's an option to do that as well if you want to manage things entirely on your own).

    The way I've got things set up, I've got a folder called "RAW Files" in my Pictures folder which is set to be the "root" Lightroom folder for my current (and only) Catalog. Whenever I have a card full of photos to import, I'll just open Lightroom, select Import, then hit Enter. With the settings I've got, Lightroom will automatically create any new (date-based) folders/subfolders that are needed and put the images there. If some photos are from earlier dates and the appropriate folders already exist, it'll add those photos where they belong.
     
  10. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2001
    Location:
    Sendai, Japan
    #10
    I actually don't know in detail how it works in Aperture, I've tried it once or twice out of curiosity, but I just let Aperture manage my images. So far, everything has been just dandy for me, but I don't have huge demands (I have ~20k pictures in my library, I think).
     
  11. skerfoot thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2010
    #12
    Thanks

    Now THAT looks promising, though it sounds like Aperture and Light table might work too.

    Thanks for all of the very helpful replies and detailed discussion of how aperture and light table handle files. I'll go through it all and try to figure out what might work best for our needs. Maybe after trying something out, I'll come back and let you know how it went.

    Thanks.
     
  12. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2007
    Location:
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    #13
    No experience with Aperture, so I can't make any comparison.

    One of the things that Lightroom does that may be of interest to the OP is that LR can have more than one Catalogue. So you can have one Catalogue for your personal photos, and LR will handle the files and the details in one way. And then you can set up a 2nd Catalogue for the microscope work with those images stored elsewhere, with a their own folder and naming structure, etc.

    This allows you to keep personal and work images totally separate.

    What I like best about LR are the Export presets (again - I have no knowledge about what Aperture does in this area, so no comparison is being made.) It is a huge time saver having Export presets, where the images are resized, renamed, watermarked, etc specifically for each intended use. There are plugins to extend the functionality.... for eg. one that I use occasionally creates a text list of the images in an export session.

    If you are already using Photoshop to edit, you may find LR to be a better fit with the workflow and the way things work.

    I believe there is a free Beta of Lightroom v3 currently, and I think Aperture has a trial version. Ideally you would use these not on your main system so there was no worry about messing up your originals.

    I think once you have taken the time to start working with keywords, albums, and collections you will find that an image organizer is invaluable.

    I would also look for speciality scientific image organizer as well. Both Aperture and Lightroom do way more than it sound like you need (image editing tools) as well.

    Good Luck.
     

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