Not Excited by 'Aperture'

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by Small White Car, Jan 2, 2010.

  1. Small White Car macrumors G4

    Small White Car

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2006
    Location:
    Washington DC
    #1
    I've been using iPhoto for years now and recently decided to give Aperture a try. This was prompted by many internet threads I've read which complain about iPhoto's chronological 'Events' which can't be moved or organized in any way. Some people really seem to hate this so I thought I'd give Aperture a try since they recommend it so strongly.

    I've been trying it out for almost a week now and I have to say that I'm not really impressed. I thought I'd share my thoughts here for anyone who cares.

    1) Flakiness

    In just a few days I've run into many bizarre behaviors from Aperture. Smart Albums have been particularly troubling. I can often make two identical smart albums and get very different results.

    For example, I made one Smart Album that found all photos in the last 2 months and that worked. Then I made one that looks for the last 2 weeks and it returned nothing. Then I duplicated the first album and changed the 'months' to 'weeks' and it worked great. The settings were identical to the first album that didn't work.

    I have seen this multiple times now. I can make a Smart Album twice (in the same way, even) and one will work and the other won't.

    iPhoto, Finder, and iTunes all feature smart folders of some sort and none of them have ever given me the trouble Aperture has.

    2) As Good as the Finder?

    One of the main complaints people have against iPhoto is that it doesn't allow folders in the library like the Finder does. They want more control, they say. Well, so far I've been less than impressed with that argument. Yes, the Projects-tab in the Inspector-pane does allow folders. But beyond that it doesn't seem nearly as good as the Finder. Heck, even iTunes have a lot more options than this thing.

    First of all, I can't select multiple folders or projects. So if I want to move 50 projects, I have to click and drag 50 times. (I brought in 361 events from iPhoto, so that made organizing them quite a chore.) Am I missing something? Someone please tell me this is a bug. I can't believe they did this on purpose.

    Secondly, it seems to only order alphabetically. People complained that iPhoto is only chronological which made me think I could organize Aperture's folder and projects any way I wanted. You know, by date, by file size, by import date...stuff like that. But nope...just alphabetical. So I didn't move to a more flexible system. I just moved to a program that's rigid in a different way. This is what people online get excited about?

    I had thought that I'd get options at least equal to the free iTunes, but no such luck.

    Now, someone's going to tell me that I can use the 'All Projects' view for chronological view and Smart Albums for all that other stuff. That's true, but I had those things in iPhoto. What's the point of coming to Aperture if I'm just going to ignore the folders and use the same tools I had in iPhoto? I thought that was the whole point to being here. What I wanted were folders that I could change the order of on a whim. You know...kind of like in the Finder.

    I've also seen people online force their projects into chronological order by naming them "year-number-name" like, 2009-0064 Picnic Shoot. Wow, great. So I can pretend it's 1985 and re-name all 361 projects every time I want to change the order? Isn't that the sort of thing an organizer program is supposed to avoid? Why does that advice even exist? If someone made that suggestion for iTunes people would respond by buying something other than an iPhone!

    3) Those Damn Stacks

    iPhoto makes copies whenever you edit so I ended up with many dual-images after importing them to Aperture. The program recognizes that they're the same and puts them into Stacks. If I had some way to deal with this by erasing or hiding all the duplicate images, that'd be ok. But the 'hide' all function only works on the individual project. So I'm left to use that keyboard command every time I come to a new project.

    Even worse, my iPhone's album is now populated by thousands of duplicates.

    I found this advice which shows how to fix that, but unfortunately it won't work for me since I already erased the 'iPhoto' keyword a few days ago.

    Now, is that my fault? I guess so, but the point is that I wouldn't even need that trick if I had some better control over all the stacks in the library instead of having to deal with them just a few at a time. Even if I could fix my current problem I'll have very limited control over any stacks I'd create in the future.

    - - - - - - -

    The bottom line is that Aperture has made a few things better for me but introduced a whole lot of headaches in the process.

    The folders and projects are better than what iPhoto has but not nearly as good as what Finder and iTunes offers. To me, that's my biggest problem and it's a tough one to get over. Since I didn't have much problem with iPhoto, I'll just stick with that.

    If Aperture 3 addresses these issues I'll certainly give it another shot then.
     
  2. tdmac macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2008
    #2
    I am more or less a Newbie. Have been using it for a year and just at the point of getting in all my photo's into Aperture and making sure I have no duplicates etc. Was using windows and folder/subfolder Heirarchy. I also chose not to do iphoto since I knew of limitations from the onset and didn't want to end up doing this twice.

    In regard to the above issue, I see you created projects based on events correct? Are these projects in individual folders or did you create blue folders to put the projects in them? The way smart albums work and the pics they find depend on where they are created. If you have a project or series orprojects within a folder and you create a smart album in that folder, it will only pull pics, based on the criteria you specify, from projects within that folder. If you create a smart album outside the folder (Library level) it will then pull pics from all projects based on your criteria. Another caveat is once a smart album is created, you can move that smart album to any other folder you want and it will still update the pics as if it was in the original location. For example, you have a bunch of projects under a blue folder called 2008 and you create a smart album in 2008 to find all pics you rated 4 stars or better. You then do the same in 2009. You can create another blue folder under the library and call it Best Of Pics and then move each of the smart albums into this folder. The 2008 will still dynamically update as if it was still residing in the 2008 folder, even though you moved it somewhere else.


    Whew allot to cover here. While iPhoto is rigid in that you have events in Aperture you are free to organize your photo's anyway you want. If you come up with one way to organize and then decide you want to take a different approach you can re-do stuff and 99% of what you have done will not have to be re-done in terms of albums, projects, etc.

    This was my one big question when I first got Aperture. How does one organize their photo's. If I was starting from scratch were do I start. The answer is that there really is no answer. It depends on how you want to group together your pictures. For example, I was pulling in all of my pics that were in all sorts of file folders based on childs name, events, vacation, sports, etc. I came across a system that worked for me. I created a blue folder for each year and within those folders a blue folder for each month (Numerical, 01,02,03, etc). I then created projects for related events inside the monthly folder that corresponsed to the date the pictures were taken. For me this was great since I still had the image dates and this would allow me to easily discover duplcates. In my case the duplicates weren't always the same name (whch Aperture would discover by checking off the Don't import duplicates option) but with a name like "copy IMG_" or "Photo's to print etc". What a nightmare. Maybe you want to create folders based on different criteria like one for vacations, one for family etc. Basically its up to you. Again you are free to then move these things around change names, etc at some point in the future if you find a better way that works for you.

    Within a folder like "12" under the year of "2009" I may have 5 projects in there. In my case projects are a series of related shots. i.e. childs birthday party. Kids sporting event or maybe a weeks vacation. Similar to the events under iphoto but you can break them up however you want. Maybe on that weeks vacation I took 200 pics and we went to 2 different destinations and I want to put each into its own project. Back to what I was saying. So the projects in this folder are going to be in alphabetical order not in chronological order. But does this really matter? My folders have pinpointed or allowed me to drill down to a certain period of time and I can see the projects within that month. usually by the name I can tell when they were. If I want to see all of the December 2009 pictures in chronological order I can click on the Blue "12" folder in the "2009" Blue Folder. Set my view dropdown to "browser & Viewer" and use the dropdown box (In the bowser section on the top left) to sort the pics in "Image Date Order". Thus I can see a chronolgical view. I am just flipping through pics in Dec of 2009 and not my entire library. Lets say that there is a special subset of pics that you want to put together from all of these projects you are viewing in the Dec of 2009 folder. You then can create an album and drag and drop whatever pics you want. A cool thing about an album is that you can drag and move pics around into whatever custom order you want. If you then want to see it in chronological order, pick the same drop down and change from custom to Image date. Change it back to custom to go back to your view. You can take the same pic and use it in 10 albums and use vitually no additional storage space. Its basically just a reference back to the original version/master found in the original project. Can you do that in finder? Basically it works the same way as itunes and playlists. But in the case of Aperture, you don't have one master project (i.e. library in iTunes) that has all of your pics and then Albums (Playlists), you break them down into projects (like albums or Artists) In aperture you can also add yellow folders, under projects, to organize things such as bunch of albums, light tables, books, etc under a given project.

    In regard to the inability to select multiple projects, my guess its more of a safety thing. if you highlight multiple projects and mistakely press command + del there goes all of your photos and there is no undo. Its only an issue now in going from another application and their structure and then putting it the way you want. This is going to be a one time occurance. In your case you are talking creating an organizational folder structure and dragging and dropping 361 projects, that were events. Going forward, its create a project, import the pics off the photo card into the project, then create any albums, etc. There would be no moving around etc unless you created the project in the wrong folder or want to completely change around your organizational structure. Thus no real realreason to move multiple projects[/QUOTE]


    Well this again is a unique situation due to iPhoto.

    First a little info on stacks. Stacks is another way of grouping images together. In the case of a project or import, you may stack or autostack a series of pictures that were taken in quick succession. You then can pick the stack pick (I.e. the one that shows up at the top of the stack / the sole picture when the stack is closed). Another time you can get a stack is if you create a duplicate version of an image. For instance to have a color version and then make a black and white copy of the image. Another way you will get a stack is if you use an external editor like photoshop/photoshop elements. It will automatically create a duplicate version based on the Tiff/PSD format used.

    iPhoto makes a duplicate image that contains all the edits, when you edit an image/make adjustments. Thus, you now have two images vs. the low overhead way Aperture handles the same senario. Under Aperture, the project showes the master or its version if you made any changes. The master image never gets touched and the edits/enhancements are just data layers. Since iphoto now has two copys of an image that is edited, aperture pulls them both in and makes a stack. The stack contains the original unedited version and then the edit. This is similar to the way that Aperture handles edits done with an external editor noted above. Depending on what adjustments/edits you did, you may in fact want to retain both copies. I personally would always want to retain the original photo and the question would be to keep or ditch the iPhoto edits. Since you did the work already, I would think that you would want them unless they are simple things like an image rotate. You are correct that there isn't way to close all of the stacks in all of the projects at one time. However it would be much much faster to close the stacks using the keyboard shortcuts vs clicking stacks and close all from the menu. If you click on the menu you will see the keyboard shortcuts. In this case it would be the "Option" + ";" (Option and the semicolon). However, if you are going to keep both pics, you might want to decide which is the stack pic. This is the left most photo and the one that has the number "2" (Since there are two pictures in the stack) and the one shown when the stack is closed. Not sure in your case if it is the original or the edit that is the stack pic on import. If you want the other to be the stack pick then you first should run through the project and use "Command" + "\". Yes this is work that you need to do but gives you the ability to view and manipulate your pics in many ways you can't in iPhoto. For example, by changing an aspect of one photo and then quickly applying those same adjustemtns to all of the other photos, using the lift & stamp tools. By using the keyboard shortcuts, you then can use the left and right arrows to move between stacks to assign the stack pics and then use the up and down arrows to quickly move between projects and close all stacks in each project with the keyboard shortcuts.

    If you are interested in doing what was described in the link, in your post, and totally eliminate either the original photo or the edit from the stack and you haven't really editied/moved/organized etc much from your initial import, you can start over an re-import. Close Aperture and open the finder. Go to the Pictures Folder and re-name the Aperture Library to something else (Like Aperture Library - Old). Re-open aperture, from the icon, and Aperture will create a new blank library since it can no longer find the original library name. Do the import again and follow the instructions. You always can go back to the other by then renaming the new one and changing the name back on the original. Or you can open the (Aperturte Library - Old) by double clicking on it. This then will be the default library that opens each time.

    I did find a great resource on the web that you can buy (cheap) a couple of ebooks about organizing and File management in aperture. Laid out very well and describes yellow folders, blue folder, stacks, albums, etc. How they are used and how powerfull they are when used together. The site is currently down so I can't post a link. Once its up I'll post the info.
     
  3. djejrejk macrumors 6502a

    djejrejk

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2007
    Location:
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    #4
    user error

    Your smart album issue is most likely due to user error. I noticed that smart albums in Aperture can be very particular, but the rules are consistent. For example, if you happen to have a folder highlighted when creating a smart album, the album will only search that folder regardless of where you move it. Also, you need to be sure that you don't have any other search options checked in the browser when using or creating smart albums.

    Aperture has its quirks but it is pretty powerful. You just have to take the time to learn it like any other piece of software.
     
  4. Small White Car thread starter macrumors G4

    Small White Car

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2006
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    Washington DC
    #5
    Thanks everyone for the very in-depth responses. I did learn a lot and I am TRYING to make this program work because I really do want to use it.

    I have solved many of the problems that I first complained about and I thank you all for that.

    BUT I still have the problem that projects are only sorted alphabetically. I did read this...

    ...but that's apparently just for the photos, not the projects.

    So what you seem to doing to get around that is to make folders for each and every month in order to make everything manageable and THAT is the problem I'm having here. Imagine if Address Book made you manually create folders for every letter of the alphabet and put your contacts in the right folders. That's what it feels like...it's like I'm using an organization program that's making ME do the organizing!

    The fact that I have to manually create and organize 84 "month folders" by hand just to get started is really baffling to me.

    I may end up doing just that because it may be worth the effort, but that's still really confusing to me why a program like this would put a task like that on the user right up front.

    But again, thanks for everything, all your other advice has been very good.
     
  5. Small White Car thread starter macrumors G4

    Small White Car

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2006
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    Washington DC
    #6
    Yeah, a LOT of them are. Not only do I see the useless sideways photos all over the place, it syncs both versions to my iPhone which would be a dealbreaker if I didn't have a solution.

    So I'm gonna have to go through all those steps to erase the masters. Hopefully future versions of Aperture will make that an option when you import iPhoto libraries.

    An easier iPhoto transition solution may seem like a low priority, but since every Mac comes with iPhoto I'd think that trying to convert iPhoto users to Aperture easily would be the BEST way to sell more copies of Aperture! That's one of those things that seems dumb but would probably lead to less posts like the one I just made and more posts saying "you have to upgrade!"

    Anyway, now I'm just rambling. Thanks again.
     
  6. Small White Car thread starter macrumors G4

    Small White Car

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2006
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    Washington DC
    #7
    Another note...I spent a long time numbering albums year-month in Aperture the first time I did this. I had to scroll up and down a lot to find stuff.

    Since I'm having to start over this time I've found that it's MUCH faster to re-name the events in iPhoto BEFORE I import them. Now, they'll be mostly organized by the time I get over there and dropping them in the correct folders will go much, much faster.

    Just thought I'd mention this in case someone ever asks you to help them with this in the future.

    Also, something else I learned the first time through... Change any "/" you have in iPhoto to a "-" as iPhoto can handle dashes but Aperture sees them as directory alerts and it messes up those albums when you import them.
     
  7. tdmac macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2008
    #8
    One thing you never mentioned is the kind of pics you take. Personal, business, etc. As I said previously, organizing can be any way you want and there is no right or wrong. How are you picturing that they should be organized? why do you want the projects in numerical order? What are you tying to accomplish.

    Technically after you go through your photo's, rate them, keyword, etc. You would want to put the best into other albums. The albums is more then what you would probably be looking at more than the projects themselves. Sort of like going to playlists (Your favorites based on different criteria more than going to the actual library, in this case projects, themselves).

    Hey I created all of those folders from 2001 to 2009. It takes a little bit but again once its done to re-organize existing photo's is a piece of cake going forward. Then again, you don't have to do what I did if you can find a better way to find what you are looking for. Hey, now that I just finished getting all of my photos into Aperture over the past 8 months, maybe Ill find I don't need the structure I already have and something may work better. At least once I use it more going forward. I do know when to look for certain things and that is why I thought the structure I found works for me.

    You also could possibly create blue folders for the different years and then put the month dash day (i.e. 01-12 for January 12th) before the name of the project. This way they will all be in order.
     
  8. tdmac macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2008
    #9
    I personally would want the masters since I also read in the comments in the linked article in your original post that the edits, especially when it comes to rotated files may not be full resolution compared to the master. Probably would keep both but not sure how many pics we are talking about.
     
  9. Small White Car thread starter macrumors G4

    Small White Car

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    #10
    They're personal photos.

    In my perfect world I would have folders for years. Each year-folder would include about 50 projects. They'd be named things like "Christmas" "Orlando" or "May - Random."

    I'd like to toggle between having those projects sort chronologically and having them sort alphabetically.

    That would be absolutely perfect.

    But since I can't have that I'm going to name everything like "2009-043 Christmas" and just put stuff in my year-folders that way.

    It's not exactly what I wanted but it will be good enough and about the same as what I'm dealing with right now in iPhoto.

    I was hoping to get "better than iPhoto" but I'll settle for "the same as iPhoto." It'll be worth it for the Raw-file abilities and advanced editing functions.

    Well, not for me. I do that with music. I have tons of playlists in iTunes.

    But with photos I'd be looking at the whole project anyway, so why bother trimming it down?

    I DO rate them so I can tell my iPhone things like "All 3+ stars over the last 15 months" but that's just a space-saving measure. If I'm on my computer I'd be looking at the entire project.
     
  10. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

    Joined:
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    Boston
    #11
    Don't like it don't use it.

    While I'm on LightRoom now because of the superior editing capabilities that it provides, I found Aperture to be an excellent product. I prefer it managing my images so I don't need to within finder. I found trying to manage images in finder and an application such as aperture can lead to headaches.

    I love the use of stacks in Aperture and while LR as this feature its not as well implemented. perhaps you ran into issues due to importing from iphoto.

    Ive was using Aperture since it first came out so my imports have been and continue to be straight from the camera.

    Since one size does not fit all, clearly the application fails to meet your needs, so try something else.
     
  11. tdmac macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2008
    #12
    First, all of my projects are random names that detail what they are. Soccer 11-12-09, Florida Vacation, Misc "Childs Name", etc. In your scheme why do you want to put the year in the project name? If you create blue folders for the year and then put the corresponding projects in that occured during that year you don't need to add the year to the project name. This is redundant. The only reason I can see you doing this is for the import and to quickly file things in the proper year folders but I would remove this from the project name afterward. Or you could just click on one photo in a project and see the image date and know where you have to file them. Now the next question is why is it important to sort PROJECTS by date as well as alphabetically? If I am looking for something, usually the year is a good separating point. From there you have an entire list of projects alphabetically. Many of them you would be able to tell when they occurred during the year. Florida Vacation, Christmas/Hanukkah,etc, Easter/Passover,
    Halloween, Sumer Camp, Baseball, Soccer, Basketball. Others like Misc pics are probably not that important. For example, a project with "Son looses first tooth", do I need to identify that it happened, right off the bat on Feb 12th or do I just care that it was a milestone in 2008 and thus it is a project in the 2008 folder. As the family gets older its more important to look at milestones on a year by year basis, i.e through the years, rather than within a given year. I am not saying that there is not a validity to what you are describing but just trying to point out why you may want to go in another direction. Again you can always go one way and then move in another. If you are looking to still put thing in chronological order in a given year, I would advise doing what I did and create blue folders for the months and then put projects tat occurred within those months in those folders. This way if you ever want to simplify the scheme you can just drag the projects from the month folders into the year folders. Then your projects will be alphabetical within the given monthly folders so you then have projects sorted by year and then month. So you can see both chronologically as well as alphabetical. This assumes you aren't trying to go even deeper and want every day of the month in date order as well. Another thing to point out is if you just create blue folders for the year and then create project names (alphabetical without numbers), they will be in alphabetical order and then you can click on the blue folder for the year, which will show you all of the pics, from all of the projects in that year, and you can pick in the browser to show you in Image Date order. Thus you now have all photo's in chronological order. Yes the project names themselves won't be in type of chronological order but you then can view the photos a year at a glance. Or a month at a glance if you break them down into the blue monthly folders.


    I only did the scheme I did since it was an easy way to ensure I can easily make sure I can identify and eliminate duplicates since the only common thread I could work on was image dates. I tend to look at things in a yearly order or want to see al of our trips to Florida over the years.



    I mistyped in regard to my itunes analogy. It should have been that you look at the playlists more than you look in the entire library.

    I am getting the feeling that your projects end up to just be the best of photos from a given shoot and not al photo's taken (Minus any blurred or not editing hope shots). If I am wrong, do you really want to look at each and every photo in a project? I may take 200 photo's when on vacation and many of them might be pics I don't really need to see all the time. For example, we went on a cruise for the first time with the kids. I have various photos of the ship, I have photo's of the towel animals that were made, there are pics that OK of my immediate family and there are those that are what I would call 3 or more stars. There are photo's of other family members as well. For the most part I care about seeing the prime photos of the cruise. These I would create in an album (Sort of like a best of playlist for an artist). This is what I am going to want to view most often, not really the entire project itself. Why would you just limit this to the iPhone. That is the beauty of Aperture is that you can use you photo's in so many ways with Albums and smart albums that take up virtually no dic space that you can group you photo's in all different ways. Of course the biggest bang for the buck will be to take the time and keyword everything you can or want. Then you can create smart albums like "Childs Name" And have all photo's that have that child. Christmas (And have all photos from christmas over the year), etc.
     
  12. Small White Car thread starter macrumors G4

    Small White Car

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    Aug 29, 2006
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    #13
    I hadn't thought about this until you asked me, mind you, so this isn't some well-worked-out plan.

    But now that I'm forced to think about it, I think it's because I'm always mindful of the world outside of the program that I'm in. I never feel 100% safe trusting that the folders I'm using are always going to be a clue for me.

    If I were to put a project online somewhere, share it with another Aperture user on a USB drive, send it to Final Cut Pro, or just go into Finder and manually copy the project for some reason, well, I kind of like the idea that a project that's been "sent away" somehow will be easily recognizable. I don't want to be left asking "Was that Christmas 2003 or 2002?"

    If it shows up as "2009-043 Christmas" then I know I'm safe.

    Perhaps it really is redundant over-planning that I'll never, ever need. But oh well, I know it and I'm ok with that. I like the fact that you're asking these questions. It's making me think about it more than I would have otherwise, even if I do eventually decide to keep doing it the same way.


    Yeah, we just have different preferences.

    For an example, in a typical "week in Orlando" kind of vacation I'll take about 1,500 photos. When I get back I'll erase about 500 (like, totally erase from the hard drive) and be left with about 1,000 photo for the week.

    I'll cut that down to 30 to make an online gallery to send to family, but other than that I'll usually just look at all 1,000 photos if I ever need anything from that trip.


    I do!

    But that's kind of "1-time-use" for me. I'll make a book or a slideshow with that, so it's useful to have the keywords there. But I'd rarely use that smart album ever again. I'd just end up going back to the main project the next time I needed something.

    I'm just really comfortable opening up a 1,000 photo project and scanning around it. I have little need to narrow stuff down more than that.

    I appreciate all the advice I've gotten here. I took it all and turned it into 6-bullet points on my blog for anyone else making this same journey:

    http://videocarpenter.wordpress.com/2010/01/05/moving-from-iphoto-to-aperture/

    I ended up having to import my whole library a 2nd time because of mistakes I made originally, so hopefully someone else can learn from my mistakes!
     
  13. Small White Car thread starter macrumors G4

    Small White Car

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2006
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    Washington DC
    #14
    Then I would never use anything. You've gotta have someone kick your butt and push you in the right direction before you can really like any complex program.

    I appreciate the help I've gotten. I don't like Aperture yet, but I really, really think I will soon.
     
  14. tdmac macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2008
    #15
    I get it. In that case if you put the date at the end of the project name, Christmas 2009-043 (Not sure what the 043 is), so you the get the projects in alphabetical order.


    Actually we are very much the same. I do the same as you. I will go through all of my pics, from a shoot/trip and physically delete certain ones that are beyond fixing or dumb shots I would never use. There may be a time or two I may flip through an entire project, but this is more to search and see what may be in there. I have done that more now since I haven't gotten to the keywording of all of my imported photo's yet. That is going to be a hell of a project.

    If you do keyword everything ten why the need to look through 1000 pics? What is it you are flipping through and looking for? Am I making you think again. Maybe there is more things that you can keyword.

    In comment to the rest of the post, that has to do with keywording. I can see smart albums being limited for log time use. But they can be usefull to find pics quickly and then drag these to possibly regular albums to group many types of pics. These are just some of the things I have seen. I haven't been to the album stage but I know I will be using them as well as smart albums.
     
  15. tdmac macrumors 6502

    Joined:
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    #16
    I would also like to throw a small curveball your way. If you really like/want to use the finder for organization you can as well with Aperture. Personally it is best to let Aperture manage your photo's as a beginner until you understand better how it all works. But..... aperture gives you a choice to let the software manage the files (I.e. that they reside in an Aperture library like iPhoto) or you can reference files, thus using it as a database for organization, editing, etc while your actual Master images reside elsewhere on your harddrive, external drive, NAS etc (Like the music in itunes is in the music folder not in a itunes package). It is also not all or nothing. It can be done on a project by project basis or even on an individual photo basis. you also can change it at any time or use Aperture to move the photo's from one location then to another location.

    Thus, you can create any type of organizational structure using the finder and folders, if you choose to, and then reference those images into projects inside of Aperture.
     

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