My migration from iPhoto to Aperture is complete all my photos are in Aperture and I have all of the photos required for this web site organized & key noted.
The first new item I have learned is that Aperture handles non-destructive photo editing much differently than iPhoto. Both programs use non-destructive editing, meaning you are always able to revert back to the original photo if you don’t like the results of you editing. Here is the difference: In iPhoto this is accomplished by you actually working on a duplicate copy of the photo. If you duplicate the photo again to try something different, then you are doing those edits on a copy of the duplicated photo. Now you are up to 4 versions of the image. So for the way I typically worked there were always at least 2 copies of the photo: The one you see in iPhoto and the unaltered original. Aperture handles things very differently. When you make edits, a duplicate copy of the photo is not created. Instead Aperture keeps a record of the changes that you have made in a database and that is what you see on screen. These changes are being applied on screen to the photograph. As a result there is one photograph and a list of changes tracked in a database. This change list takes up far less room than a second altered copy of the photo. If you make a second version of the photo to try other changes, there is still one photo (or Master as Aperture calls it) and two different versions which get tracked via the database. In a strange twist of logic the more copies of photos you make in Aperture the more space you save over iPhoto. With a small photo library the editing method really doesn’t matter too much. My iPhoto library had 25,000 photos in it and I was starting to run into space issues on the laptop that stores my library. I’ve picked up 3GB of space so far and I am only halfway through my migration process-more on that in a moment.
There is more depth and flexibility to organization in Aperture. In iPhoto (left) the main item is an Event which is not listed separately in the sidebar. You must drag events around in the main window to organize. In Aperture (right) the main item is a Project which can be organized in the main window plus unlike iPhoto the sidebar. Also in Aperture you can do additional imports straight into a projects.
A second major difference between the programs is the internal file management within the program itself. In iPhoto you have “Events” and “Albums”. An Event represents a group of photos on your memory card taken at the same time and imported into iPhoto. If you had a memory card that had photos taken on several different days, say Christmas and New Years Eve, these photos could be automatically split into two Events. These Events are somewhat inflexible. Photos within an Event can not be manually sorted, if you wanted custom sorting you must use an Album. Every time you bring photos into iPhoto they initially have to create their own new event. Once an Event is created you can merge it with another Event to combine the photos, but there is no way to simply import new photos straight into an existing Event. Events can be reordered by dragging the Event to a new location on the main photo viewing screen, but not in the sidebar. iPhoto also uses Albums where you can add photos from one or more Events. Albums don’t actually contain original pictures, just references to the originals in an Event. The pictures in Albums can be reordered or deleted without effecting the original items in their respective events. Think of Albums like Playlists in iTunes and it is the same concept applied to pictures instead of your music. Lastly iPhoto has “Folders” which can be used to organized your Albums. Folders can contain either Albums or other Folders, but NOT Events which can not be nested in any way.
All of your Events are only shown as one line item in the Library portion of the Sidebar in iPhoto (left). Folders in iPhoto can contain Albums or other Folders. In Aperture (Right) Projects (The nearest equivalent to iPhoto Events) are individually listed and organized in the Sidebar. Folders can contain other Folders, Albums AND Projects. Seems like a small thing but it is a big difference.
Aperture on the other hand has “Projects “and “Albums” plus “Folders”. While albums work the same in both programs, “Projects” are similar to, but different than iPhoto “Events”. Events in iPhoto are more time based which is how a home user would work. You take pictures of the school play one day and your kids baseball game on the weekend. These are time based Events. Projects in Aperture are more work based where you are shooting photographs for one client over a series of days. As mentioned iPhoto always brings new photos you import into a new Event which later can be merged with other Events. Aperture by default creates a new Project for each import, but you can easily change that so newly imported photos can go straight into an existing Project. Plus moving Projects around is far easier because they are listed as separate line items in the side bar. There is only a single line item for all Events in Photo and you must move them in the main screen. Both programs have folders which can be used as an organizational tool, but they are more flexible in Aperture. In iPhoto Folders are used in the sidebar to help organize Albums only. Events can’t be arranged at all in the sidebar. In Aperture Folders can be used to organized Projects, Folders and Albums both separately or together. For example you can have a Folder for a particular year. Within that folder you can have a Folder for each client. Within the client Folder you can have Folders for several big jobs. In the job Folder you can have both Projects and Albums. The Project might be all of the photos you took and the Album holds the ones you presented to the client. This extra level of flexibility and organization really helps when your photos start numbering in the tens of thousands like I do.
In Aperture photos which have been imported from the iPhoto library that you were edited in iPhoto come in as two photos in a “Stack”. Stacks in this case are two originals of the same photo. Stacks can be displayed open (top left) or collapsed (top right). Upon import into Aperture, the photos were keyworded by Aperture as “iPhoto Original” & “iPhoto Edited” which is easy to see by hovering your mouse over the photos. By deleting most of the “iPhoto Originals” and keeping my final edited versions I regained precious hard drive space.
Now to take advantage of this space savings with your imported iPhoto library you have a bit of work you must do. As I mentioned when you edit a photo within iPhoto, a copy is made that receives the edit. In iPhoto you see just the modified photo, but there are really two photos involved. When the iPhoto library comes into Aperture you get two photos. To gain back space I manually went through and deleted the iPhoto originals for images I felt I would have no need to revert back to the original. Aperture has a feature called stacks where multiple versions of the same photo are grouped together. The stacks can be displayed either open where you see all photos in the stack or closed where the top photo in the stack is displayed. You can also create your own stacks for similar photos with multiple masters - for example all of the pictures of the meat on the cutting board in one stack. Aperture lets you hover your mouse over a photo and it shows info about the photo. This includes keywords and Aperture had added keywords for “iPhoto Original and “iPhoto Modified” that made my task easier. I went into all of my former Events/current Projects and reviewed the pair of photos - the iPhone Original and iPhone Edited. As long as I felt I would not need to return to the original, I deleted it. Also because Aperture Projects can be organized into folders in the sidebar, unlike iPhoto Events, I no longer needed to use albums to accomplish this task for photos going onto my website. I deleted all of the old albums associated with my web site. By deleting 95% of the iPhoto original photos and keeping the modified versions, plus deleting all of the albums I no longer need - I have gained back 3GB of space. This is just for my food photos, I haven’t even touched my personal or work photos yet.
Aperture is set up out of the box to easily switch between libraries. iPhoto requires the use of a 3rd party add-on or the use of a special key combination upon opening.
A third difference between the two programs is library management. Where iPhoto is intended for the ammeter home photographer it is intended to be used with one library. There are 3rd party utilities that let you switch between iPhoto libraries and there is a keyboard shortcut combination you can invoke to force iPhoto to load a new library at startup. But it is not the standard behavior and it always felt clunky. Aperture on the other hand, easily switches between multiple libraries. It has a “Switch to Library” menu command which allows you to link to a different library and stores a list of your recently used libraries. This will give me another way to save space. I plan to split my current library into 3 segments. My personal library will reside on my laptop, my business library will always remain on a drive on my home network and there will be a third library on my laptop for business use. It will be a temporary library where I move photos that I may want to bring with me to see a client. Splitting up the libraries like this will serve to fee up more space on my laptop.
Files on the memory card can be renamed, keyworded, and adjusted upon import. Adjustments are Aperture speak for the edits I normally had to do in Photoshop Elements. The import process takes a bit longer, but the performing these tasks during import saves me 1-2 hours of time.
The fourth big difference is in workflow time savings. I know I covered this in my first blog but it is so significant it bears repeating here. My old iPhoto workflow was: