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Thinking of moving from iPhoto to Aperture?

In this feature we'll show you how to improve your image editing experience by upgrading from iPhoto to Apple's pro-level photography image editor, Aperture 3.


Apple ships iPhoto with every new Mac and is a great way to organize all your photos. It also has a handy set of editing tools, not to mention the other features to help you share your pictures online with Flickr, MobileMe and Facebook. You can use iPhoto to print your snaps in books and calendars as well as traditional lab-quality photos from online vendors or by using your own photo-printer.

However, while there’s a raft of benefits to using iPhoto, upgrading to Aperture 3 is the next step if you want to get more from your photography, and a logical move if you've upgraded from a digital compact camera to a DSLR. We'll show you some of the most obvious benefits, as well as reveal some of the more obscure, though no less compelling, reasons for upgrading to Apple's pro-photography image editor.



Before that though, it's as well to check and see that your Mac is compatible. While iPhoto '09 will run on anything, just about, Aperture 3 is a little more demanding. Aperture runs on any current Mac although any Intel Mac running OSX 10.5.8 or higher with 1GB, preferably 2GB or more, will do.

Exporting iPhoto's Library


Moving your images to Aperture 3.0 couldn't be easier and all your previous organization structure (events, albums, books etc), ratings, keywords, adjustments, places and faces are maintained. Simply install Aperture 3.0 then you can either import your iPhoto Library from a dialog that appears or, later on, from the File menu. Select iPhoto Library (File > Import > iPhoto Library). You'll have to decide if you want leave the images where they are (as referenced files), or import them into Aperture's Library (as managed files). As the latter duplicates the images, I would strongly recommend the former.


If you want to experiment first, you can import a few photos, or a whole event, or album, from the iPhoto Browser. Simply select File > Import > Show iPhoto Browser. Drag the images, or album, from the browser to Aperture's Library Inspector and Aperture will import the photos into an Untitled Project.

And, don't forget there are other benefits too. When you edit an image in iPhoto the picture file is duplicated. In Aperture, any changes, or versions (duplicates with edits for example), are stored in a single file, saving hard drive space. These variations and versions are managed by Aperture, so you don't have to take any additional steps to keep track of the changes. It's all done for you.


Like iPhoto, you don't have to have your photos stored on your computer's hard drive. If you have thousands of images you may want to store them on an external drive to save space on your start-up disk. Indeed, Aperture can reference these (without importing them into the Library on your computer’s hard drive) or you could set up a number of additional Libraries on the external disk.

This is much like the functionality of iPhoto only with the added benefit that Aperture can back-up this Library in the form of a Vault. As you’re trying to protect your library from failure, make sure a Vault is set-up on a second hard disk. There’s little point having one on the same drive.

Tip: If you lack spare computer ports, simply daisy-chain a second drive off the first using FireWire.

Adjustments and Effects


In use, you'll find iPhoto's simplicity extends to Aperture 3. As well as a raft of image enhancement options, Aperture 3 has a number of automatic adjustment presets to help you on your way.

There are quick-fixes for exposure, revealing detail in shadows and holding highlights, an excellent auto-enhance (great for beginners and pros alike) and there are a wide range of B&W options too. The real power with these quick-fixes though, is that you can fine-tune them to your liking and then save them as additional presets. After that, you can apply your custom presets to single images or whole albums at a time. It’s an immensely powerful feature that will save you time in front of your computer screen.


There are way too many features to talk through in-depth, and for tips and tutorials I would obviously recommend keeping this site bookmarked for those. However, there are plenty of Auto options for beginners, including a new Auto Curves feature, as well as the familiar adjustment sliders that work globally, like those in iPhoto.

Selective Editing


Aperture 3 also adds the option to paint (brush) on these enhancements locally. This local adjustment technique is often referred to as selective editing. For example, you could Intensify Contrast and add Sharpening to the eyes in a portrait leaving the rest untouched. In time, more advanced editing may include several areas of color balancing and adjustment using Curves. Sounds much more complicated than it really is.


Quick Brushes offers additional effects to the Adjustment Brushes and include Skin Smoothing, Dodge (lighten) and Burn (darken) as well as more specific, individual adjustment of Contrast, Saturation, Vibrancy and others. And, with an edge-detection option available for some, you don’t need to be an experienced retoucher to get the results you want from either of these brush tool options.

Because Aperture 3 works non-destructively, any number of steps can be applied without fear of continual image degradation. And because of that, Aperture 3 lets you experiment easily and grow in confidence in your own pace. Why not try Aperture 3 now, and see for yourself.

For information on how to get the most from Aperture 3, why not bookmark this site?


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