Prompted by the comments in my last post about Aperture 2.0, I downloaded the Adobe Lightroom trial and used it for about a week. “It has Curves!” people screamed. My decision to get Lightroom was instantly made as I gleefully grabbed the curve and stretched it around just like in Photoshop… or so I thought. I looked around the interface for the switch or menu item that would let me access the Red, Green, and Blue Curve adjustments, and was severely disappointed to see that there was no such button. Using the RGB curves to tone the image is a large part of my workflow when it comes to landscapes and skies. It’s great to use the RGB curves separately to fake a cross processed look or pull some red out of the mid-tones easily. It looks like a round trip to Photoshop is needed for curves with Adobe Lightroom. I was back to square one.
After that fiasco, I was starting to see that neither of these programs would be able to do what Photoshop does for me. I’m not naive to think that either would be a TOTAL Photoshop replacement, but there are some things that I thought would have been a no brainer like fully functioning curves. I began to think of these programs as management tools to be used to separate the good from the bad and begin to find the best photos, to be ultimately corrected in photoshop. But how is this unlike my Bridge/Photoshop workflow that I have now? Now that RAW converter is built into Bridge, I am starting to wonder if I really need one of these tools. I already have a fully organized hand-made file structure where I can find what I’m looking for relatively easily. What good is bringing my library into a proprietary system that only allows me to see my photos if I open a HUGE application like Aperture? Bridge can Rate my photos, collect multiple versions, copy and paste changes between multiple photos, make web galleries, and help organize a round trip to Photoshop. What am I gaining by moving every photo I take to Aperture?
I totally understand the need for a tool like Aperture when doing a large photo shoot where I need to quickly go though, rate and process dozens of images for the day. I can see how a pro can use these tools when a deadline is looming they have to aggregate their best shots from a specific shoot in record time. But, as a daily photoblogger it’s hard for me to imagine loading EVERY photo I take into Aperture. I shoot in small bursts every day. I shoot different objects all day long so keywording is rather useless unless I tag everything with “Chicago” or “Street”. Also, I use Photoshop for everything that goes on my site. So, why not just use bridge to sort everything by day, pick the best photo and load it into Photoshop?
Well this wouldn’t be a Lightroom vs Aperture review if I ended up using Bridge for everything. Luckily, my mind came to a slightly different conclusion. I will be using my existing file structure to organize all of my day to day shots and I will use Aperture as my Project/Vacation based organization tool. In other words, all of my every day, walking around the street photoblog photography will be processed as is, through Bridge and Photoshop. However, when bigger projects come along, or when I need to load up themed sessions like vacations or large daily event photo shoots, I will use Aperture.
Why did I decide on Aperture over Lightroom? It was the ease of use, and overall feature set that brought be back to Aperture over Lightroom. The full frame mode is GREAT. I can flip through all the images and quickly rate and process the best ones checking for focus. The full RGB levels editor in Aperture is actually MORE flexible than Lightroom’s curves. HOW? The ability to adjust the “quarter points” on the levels graph allows one to emulate curves. It’s a little tricky to get used to, but after I figured it out, it all became clear. And, with the ability to adjust the red green and blue separate, I can do 90% of what curves can do. Lastly, I trust Apple as a company to make a clean sleek piece of software more than Adobe right now. Adobe is getting better lately, but they have always had a knack of making bloated software with 90s sensibility just because thats how they have always done it.
My hope is that as I become more comfortable with Aperture, I will allow myself to use it for more and more projects. As always, I’ll get back to you with any more updates.
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