Image organization question: Lightroom/Aperture

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by radek42, Oct 26, 2011.

  1. radek42 macrumors regular

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    #1
    Hi,

    I am moving from Windows to Mac so I thought it might be a good time to revisit my picture organization structure.

    Thus far I used year/event name/photos(tiff, psd)/NEFs structure. I kept original NEF (raw files) as a sub-directory of the actual image location. I used Picasa to browse through my images. I usually removed NEF folders from Picasa to avoid confusion. I also never renamed image file names; I kept default names generated by camera.

    I'd like to set up my computer (MM) with either Lightroom or Aperture (leaning towards A to spend my BTS promo money as both programs seem fairly similar in features). This will be great improvement over Picasa. I also realized that some of my old habits might (and perhaps should) change. I will eventually use PS for more sophisticated editing if required, but I'd like to do most of post-processing in A.

    To my questions:
    0. Import: do you import from camera to A or do you copy files to HD first (via Finder)? I'd probably copy it first ... old habit.

    1. Where to put raw files? I am thinking to put them directly to year/event name/ folder.

    2. Rename or rename-not the imported raw files? I lean towards batch renaming (raw) files to year.mm.dd_sequential or similar format.

    3. Backing up: Since I will be working with reference library I think I should back up: i) original raw files, ii) A library to maintain edits, corrections, and meta data. I also like to back up "processed" images in some sort of "universal" format in case I cannot access/read my raw files. I use highest quality jpeg. I suspect I'd have to export from A and save as jpeg. Then back-up together with original raw files.

    I would greatly appreciate if you could comment on my suggested process and picture organization. Feel free to offer your own work flow. I am opened to any suggestions.

    I will be testing both LR and A in next couple weeks, but I'd like to learn a bit about each program before I download trail versions. I remember testing LR years ago and I remember finding it somewhat confusing.

    Regards,
    R>
     
  2. Designer Dale macrumors 68040

    Designer Dale

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    #2
    Aperture is a photo database and will manage all of these actions in it's own way. Import from either the camera or memory card goes directly into a Project in the Aperture Library. It is no fun trying to defeat this and probably counter productive. I just trust in the Apple engineers and it works fine for me. Lightroom will let you manage your files with more flexibility (I think).

    Aperture will give you an option window for renaming files when you connect a camera or card to it. mm.dd.year is the default. I use the default then add a name to the project after the date like this: June 18 2011 Mt. Rainier. Then I can find all of the photos taken in either June, 2011 or at Mt. Rainier with the Aperture search function.

    Everyone has a different take on back-up. Aperture has a backup called a Vault that you can have pretty much anywhere. Mine is on a remote HD and in my Pictures folder. When I load new photos I update the vault first. That puts original file copies on my backup drive. I also run Carbon Copy Cloner twice a day and maintain a bootable backup copy of my entire system on a remote disk.

    Use both of the trials, then you will be able to decide which is best for you. Backup all of your photos on a disk that is not connected to your computer while you play with something new. Never risk loosing those photos!

    Dale
     
  3. snberk103 macrumors 603

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    #3
    I use LR, however the general philosophy is similar - though there may be some specific details that quite the same as Aperture.

    I "import" all of my images into LR. I let LR use it's default folder structure (Year/Y-M-D) and keep the original camera file names. I have two cameras that currently feed into LR, plus a bunch of old images that were scanned from film prior to my getting my first digital camera. As well, I use LR to catalogue some scanning from film I have done for a couple of clients. In these situations I have created a separate folder structure within the LR directories for the scans.

    When I import images I do keywording, using some basic words - that will identify the images as a client's or my own, a project I am working on, a geographic location, etc. I will import in batches if a card has images that may fit into more than one project, category, place, etc. I don't format the card for a few days, as my system backs up nightly and I want to make sure I have one good backup before I erase the cards.

    Within LR I have "Collections" (which I believe correspond to "albums" in Aperture). Collections can "Normal" or "Smart" (I deliberately place images in a Normal Collection, LR places images into Smart Collections based on a set of criteria - for example has the Keywords "Selfwork", "Gate", "Nanaimo" and is rated 4 stars or more.

    After an import I will go through and refine the keywords based on specific features. At least in theory I will do this, but often I am a little behind in practice. However, I can find all the images I am interested in by the general keywords, and catch up those that are missing specific words.

    At this point in my workflow all of my images are still RAW. Depending on the job, different things happen. If I do all of my editing for a job in LR - which is very common for me - then the files all exist still as RAW. I will then export the files in the size and format required to a folder. Perhaps I am burning a CD, or uploading to an FTP server, etc. For some clients I will then archive the folder and pop this image archive into a folder where I keep an archive of everything I have done for this client. In the majority of cases, I delete the folder once I know that they have received the images. Depends on the client, my history with them, etc etc

    If I need to create different aspect ratios for a client's image, I create Virtual Copies in LR, and crop within LR. I will use the Title/Caption area to record what is being done to each. If I have to go to Photoshop, I will invoke PS from within LR - do my stuff - and save it. LR will put a copy of the PS into the original LR folder directory, with the word "edit" appended to file name. If I think of it, I will note something relevant in the Title/Caption fields.

    I use Collections and Smart Collections to find and organize all images in current projects. I move collections for finished/old projects into an Archive Collection Set.

    Anything I am working on can always be found by quickly browsing the last few imports in those instances where I've made a mistake with the keywording and set-up of a Smart Collection, or where I've mis-rated an image. I usually create a Collection Set for a project, and within the Set there will be at least on Normal Collection and one Smart Collection. Often multiples of each, if it's a complex project.

    Hope this helps. I know it is LR specific, but I believe Aperture works in a very similar manner. Keep in mind that all edits in LR and A are none-destructive, so there is no reason to keep separate copies of a RAW and a JPG and a TIFF and Square Format and a 6:9 Format. You just create them when you need them. LR uses presets on export, and you can add your own presets. So you can set one up that exports all the images in a Collection to a size and format suitable for uploading to your website, complete with watermark. And then you can export the same images to a different file type and size without the water to an online printing outfit simply by choosing a different export preset.

    When comparing LR to A, may attention to the noise reduction. LR3 (free on trial from Adobe) does amazing noise reduction. It was the compelling feature for me to upgrade from LR2. Aperture can create books. Default is to create an Apple book, but there are options to go to, iirc, 4 or 5 other print houses. The Apple books are pretty good. I keep a copy of Aperture around just for the book building ability. Note that iPhoto and Aperture have different book templates. I know of at least one binding option that is available to iPhoto books that is not available in Aperture. And Aperture book projects are not transferrable, near as I can tell - and I did a bunch of research on this - to iPhoto.

    Luck.
     
  4. radek42 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #4
    Thanks guys for great posts. It is very helpful.

    So Aperture vault copies all original to remote disk/folder for a back up. Does it also back up its own library? Sorry, I still find this a bit confusing ... I suspect A library is located under /Users/user/Photos/ . I plan to keep all my images on the second internal HD. I'd like to back up external drive (network, file server, etc.). If I use vault, will it back up both files and library?

    I used to keep exported images (jpegs) in case I cannot convert raw files. It all started I was using freeware software to convert nefs (nikon raw files). It still bugs me that raw file standards always change ... I can imagine that in couple years raw files from Nikon won't be readable. Paranoia anyone? :)

    I remember using noise ninja plug in for PS which, if I am not mistaken, is used by LR. It was pretty nifty back then ... I can imagine it's pretty good now. I would think that A has some noise reduction as well.

    The books sound quite nice. I was actually thinking to remove iPhoto (I like to run lean machine) once I settle for either LR or A, but I guess I'll keep it around.

    Again, thanks for taking time to write rich and useful comments. Keep them coming! :)

    Cheers, R>
     
  5. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #5
    Both apps, Aperture and Lightroom, work very similarly: they (1) organize files, (2) allow you to do »most of the edits« and (3) work completely non-destructively. They never, ever, ever touch the original file, whether it's RAW, jpg or any other supported image format. Instead, they will save only the settings and render your image starting from the original. Hence, you can create »versions« of a file for free (Apple calls them Versions, Adobe refers to them as Virtual Copies; I'm using Apple's lingo, though, because that's what I'm used to).

    (1) Aperture and Lightroom are also databases, in fact, most of the »data« is contained in that database, be it versions, edits, tags, albums, websites and such. In a sense, very little data is contained in the image files themselves. If you were to yank my (Aperture) database from under me, leaving me only with my RAW files, I'd have to start editing them from scratch. I don't want to scare you, quite the contrary, the database component is actually the strength of this type of apps. I can search for faces or places now, for instance.

    (3) In terms of file management, Aperture is more flexible than Lightroom: with Lightroom, you have to manage the files yourself, period. You backup options are also more limited. Aperture can either manage the files for you (that's the default and I by a wide margin prefer Aperture to manage my files for me) or you can selectively manage files manually. It's extremely granular, you can change this on a per-file basis if you so wish. Aperture offers you to back up your files in vaults. You can create as many as you like. Be that as it may, obviously letting Aperture manage your files is the way it is designed to and I recommend using that when testing it.

    (0) + (2) Aperture lets you rename files in a very flexible fashion at import. E. g. you import files directly from Aperture into what is called a Project. Every original file belongs to exactly one project, but may belong to as many albums, books, websites and light tables as you'd like.


    Regarding which one is »better«, I don't think anyone can answer that for you. Both apps have a very different UI philosophy and people who are more free-flowing (like me) tend to prefer Aperture while people who are more structured often prefer Lightroom. I suggest you try both and see which one you like best. Obviously both have other strengths and weaknesses, e. g. Lightrooms superior noise reduction or Aperture's vaults and books.

    One thing: do not under any circumstances use Aperture and Lightroom simultaneously on the same set of referenced files, that's disaster waiting to happen.
     
  6. snberk103 macrumors 603

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    #6
    You're welcome...
    If this ever happened, and I think it's extremely unlikely that either Aperture or LR would ever lose the ability to read a mainstream RAW format, I'd just keep the last version of the software that could handle the file format. In a worst case scenario, you could do a mass export with the legacy SW into a file format that could be read by the new SW. Much more likely someone will come along to write the SW to convert the obsolete RAW format to a different RAW format.

    It is much more likely that you'll have to copy over your entire photo library to a different hardware platform. Not a biggie for your internal libraries when you consider that there will be some sort of migration assistant. But what about backups on external drives? What would you do if your current system crashed and needed replacing, and the new computer did not have the ports to physically connect to the external hardware that your 56 TB of images live on? That's my paranoia!

    I remember using 5" floppy disks, and then having to track down a drive to install in a new computer that only came with a 3" floppy drive.
     
  7. radek42 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #7
    Thanks for info!

    I am not scared (yet). I start to appreciate strengths of database-based programs and applications. I am still not sure if vault backs up the A database or just images ... (it might be quite obvious once I try it).

    I am used to knowing where my files live. I guess this comes back to "managed" vs. "reference" library discussion ... I'm confused enough already. Perhaps quick question: if you let A manage your files, what is default location and hierarchy? Again, this would be easy to see once I run trial version.

    Thanks. I still think of my pictures as files and not necessarily as images (content). I think once I can free myself from those damn files it will be easier.

    I really tried not to ask that question :) I know it might get really annoying.

    That's good to know ... I haven't think about it yet, but it sounds like something I could have tried :)

    Cheers, R>
     
  8. Designer Dale macrumors 68040

    Designer Dale

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    #8
    You can have multiple vaults in multiple locations and back them up one at a time or all at once. When you load photos, they go directly into a Project that is stored on the Aperture Library. This can be located out of it's default location on the Pictures folder if you want. It runs faster if it stays where it wants to put it. I update my vault when I load photos and again when I am about to exit the program. This keeps everything up to date. For me, running Carbon Copy Cloner twice a day is how I backup the Library along with everything else. Others have much better backup plans that this.

    I have an out of date Canon XSi and don't have issues with RAW processing.

    Both Nik Software and Noise Ninja are available as plugins for Aperture and Lightroom as well as PhotoShop. They work better that the built in tools in Aperture (some say). The folks at my local camera shop recommend iPhoto and the full set of Nik Software plugins, which they conveniently sell :)

    Dale
     
  9. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #9
    Vaults back up everything in managed libraries, they also keep pictures you have deleted in the meantime.
    Aperture stores its database in its Library. The Library is a folder containing many subfolders which reflect your project structure in Aperture. If you create a folder in Aperture, a folder is created in the Aperture Library. However, to prevent people from tampering with the files manually, the Aperture Library appears as if it is a single file (just like applications on the Mac appear to be a single file, but they're really a folder containing lots of subfolders and files). The default location is the Pictures folder in your home directory (/Users/[user name]).
    That's a good point. If you embrace that philosophy, things get a lot easier and you can speed up common operations by an order of magnitude.
    Well, I didn't give you an answer as to which is better ;)
     
  10. radek42, Oct 27, 2011
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2011

    radek42 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #10
    Thank you both, guys. This is all very helpful.

    I did more reading on this and I realized this. So if one plans to use reference library the manual back strategy of masters is must.

    On the same note. Folks pointed out, that by letting A managing you files, the library grows quickly (since it includes all masters) which in turns slows A down. On the other hand, reference library is significantly smaller in size which does not cause slow downs for massive libraries. Apparently, reference library also allow you to edit files without masters present (think laptop on the move with masters at home on the external drive). You'll have to have masters present to export/print tho. This would be great if true? Does LR have similar feature?

    Edit regarding editing off-line masters: Reading Apple's on-line documentation it appears you CANNOT make any adjustments on disconnected masters ... Bummer, but understandable ... I'll be working on my desktop anyways.

    I got a taste of "show content of package" stuff with iPhoto library already. Kind of neat way of doing things I must say.

    Thanks for that :)

    Cheer, R>

    ----------

    Thanks for info.

    As I mentioned earlier, it appears that vault feature does not back up reference masters which is a bit unfortunate, but kind of understandable. I am still looking into "proper" back up strategy. I'd like rsync for it's flexibility and cross-platform support (I can back up my soon-be-obsolete Windows machine and Linux laptop with very similar scripts). Kind of nerdy, but it works. Looking at CCC as well ... it's incremental back up looks very similar to rsync functionality.

    Quick note: can you use CCC to clone larger disk onto smaller one if there is enough room, of course? E.g. 500GB HD with 60GB data to 120GB SSD. I think I know the answer ...

    Cheers, R>
     
  11. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #11
    Yes, you are managing the files.
    That's not the case, Aperture is not slowed down because of the larger size of your Aperture library. Remember: the Aperture Library is just a special directory that contains a SQL lite database, related structures and the files. It doesn't matter whether logically, the masters are located in one directory or another.

    The only reason referenced master mode can be faster is because you can put the database and the masters on two separate disks (different disks, not just different volumes). Then both can be accessed independently. But that has nothing to do with the size of the library. That means, if you only own one drive (e. g. when you're on a notebook), then there is no difference in terms of speed.
    That's exactly the way it works. You can access all files manually if you want to, but all I'd do are reads.
    I use Time Machine as a first line of defense to back up all of my files including my Aperture Library. Works like a charm. I would not recommend CCC or SuperDuper, they were great before there was Time Machine.
     
  12. radek42 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #12
    I am planning to have maters and library on different internal HDs using mini server. Eventually, once the "master" HD is full the old(er) files will be moved (relocate masters) to external.

    I will certainly look into TM back ups .. However it seems to work well with time capsule and perhaps USB drives connected to airport extreme. I remember trying to set up TM back up to my file server (Linus running samba) and it does not work out of the box (there seems to be workaround tho). Decisions. As far as I could tell one can set up rsync script to do what TM does (with a bit of work). I will certainly play with it before I commit to particular scheme.

    Thanks again for useful comments. R>
     
  13. mofunk macrumors 68000

    mofunk

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    #13
    Like everyone said, try the trials for both. I did that when I moved from iPhoto. Since day one, I've been using iPhoto so I knew what I wanted in a file organizer. I use Lightroom more than I use Aperture. For me it works best. The quick filters, tagging and organizing is easy. Aperture I use for making books and other stuff.
     
  14. radek42 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #14
    Thanks. I will try both. Since I was using Windows until recently I've only tried LR in the past and it felt awkward ... but I guess I did really try it. I will see. Aperture certainly appeals from the price point and fact that it is in the app store. I also like LR for being cross-platform application and you can even install it on Win and Mac from a single licence ... Decisions.

    I slowly started using iPhoto when my wife got her MBP ... Coming from Picasa on Windows I was used to organizing my photos myself and I was fine with that. Without trying too hard, iPhoto grabbed my files and rammed them into its library under iPhoto package ... that's how whole "how to organize photos on Mac" (and Win and Linux for that matter) learning curve started.

    I think I more-less understand managed/referenced library concept for iPhoto and Aperture; I am not quite sure where LR and Picasa stand; I never really "imported" picture to Picasa; I copy image files to specific location on HD and point Pisaca to them ... I guess in that respect it'd be "referenced" library.

    Anyways ... I'd still like people opinions and/or specific arrangements for photo organizing/back up that work for them.

    Cheer, R>
     
  15. radek42 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #15
    downloading trials ...

    Hi,

    I am downloading both (LR and A) trial right now ... Aperture is 684MB versus 103MB for Lightroom ... seriously? :) Talk about code efficiency :) I wonder if A provides much more functionality compared to LR. Is LR-trial actual full version of the program?

    We shall see.

    Cheers, R>
     
  16. snberk103 macrumors 603

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    #16
    Yes, LR trial is the full deal.
    Adobe has some very good tutorials on their site. To my mind the Adobe How To's are generally better than the random stuff one finds on the 'net, with some exceptions of course. But at least initially, stick with the Adobe material.

    Have fun....
     
  17. radek42 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #17
    Thanks for info about Adobe on-line how-tos ... I'll check them out.

    It is curios that Aperture download is so much larger ...

    I sure will :)

    Cheers, R>
     

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