13 November 2007

How I work with Stacks and Ratings

Aperture offers two distinct ways of identifying the selects of your photo shoots. Stacking and star ratings are two different ways of approaching the challenge and you might want to use them as a combined tool

What does stacking do? Stacking combines different images into one stack of images, where only the top one is used. Imagine a stack of slide put on top of each other on a lightbox. You can either combine the images by autostacking them as described here, or by selecting them manually. For most situations, I do the initial stacking via auto stacking and add some other images manually to that stack. I might even combine two different stacks into one.

The images are now sitting in one stack, but how do I make my selection? On the bottom of your Aperture screen, select the Stack Mode (1) or simply click alt T

Open your stacks by clicking alt ' or select the function via Menu Stacks. Your images are presented similar to this screenshot of a world famous model :-) The left image presents the current pick and the right image a picture of the stack to compare it to.

Don't work via the menu to select your picks. It takes far too long. If you want to select the right image as the new pick, use the keyboard shortcut Apple \ and immediately the image will move to the left and a new image from the stack replaces the old comparison image. If the new image is not better than the current pick, click the right arrow button to move to the next image in the stack. The description takes far longer than the process itself.

Reducing the initial amount of images to stacks reduces a lot of clutter in your project. After you selected your picks and closed all stacks, you will only see the picks of each stack.

Another way of coming to a similar result, is by working in the normal Multi View and give your images star ratings from 1 to 5 and Rejects. How do you give your images a star rating? Simply click a number on your keyboard and the according star rating will be applied to the image. If you click 9, the image will be marked as Reject and hidden from the default view.

This is another effective way of moving through your images to view the best results. I tend to use only ratings between 3 and 5 and Rejects (for technically faulty images). When I filter my project by star ratings and only want to see the best images, I use the keyboard shortcut ctrl 5 to view all images with a 5 star rating only.

Alternatively make your selection in the filter dropdown menu.

You can combine both methods by first working with stacks and then applying star ratings. This can be useful for a portrait session, where you select the best image of each pose first and then select the best pose for your client via star rating.

12 November 2007

Strobist Ring Flash

If you are serious about learning more about flash photography, then Strobist is the Blog to read. This week, you will learn about ring flash photography.
Ring flashes are popular with fashion photographers as they provide a good quality light. Ring flashes are expensive. Strobists will provide a diy manual for a speedlight based ring flash.
Check it out. It is a great resource.

11 November 2007

Feed Settings

I noticed that my feed settings were setup incorrectly. When you subscribed to the feed, you were only able to see the heading of my posts. You should now see the intro of the post.

Let me know if you have problems reading the feed in your feedreader.

Have a great weekend!

09 November 2007

How to work with Auto-Stacking and Stacks in Aperture

I covered working with auto-stacking only briefly in Part 4 of the series of Optimizing your Aperture Import Workflow. Auto-stacking is one of these small tools, which are sometimes overlooked, but very useful.

How does it work? Aperture assumes that images, which were shot in short succession, are very similar and can be stacked together. As a result, you have one favorite, which is on top of the stack you work with. Similar shots of the series are hidden below the favorite. You can open stacks and rearrange them very quickly. Stacking and auto-stacking helps you stayed organized and make clear and fast decision on which picture is great and which is not.

When you read Aperture's manual you might have the impression that you only can use auto-stacking when you import images. This is not the case and I will show you later, how it works.

As an example, you want to import images from your holiday. There are some shots from a picknick at the beach, which you want to import. You worked creative that day and tried different settings on your camera and did several snapshots of your friends and family.

On the bottom of your screen, you find this slider. When the slider is on 0:00 as in the screenshot, auto-stacking is disabled. When you move to the right, you activate auto-stacking and Aperture immediately stacks images together. Let's say, you moved the slider to 0:15, then Aperture combines all images taken within 15 seconds increments together into one stack. You can move the slider to the left and to the right until you see that most of your images are stacked together the way you want it. Sometimes the stacks are combined perfectly, most times you need to do some small manual adjustments.

You can do these adjustments either now or later after the import. Why wait, if you can make your life easier right away. To combine two stacks or more with each other or add another single image to an existing stack, mark all images you want to have in one stack. Click either Apple K or go to Stacks - Stack.

If you want to move one or more images out of a stack, click Shift alt K or select Stacks - Extract Item. If you would choose Unstack, all images in the stack would be moved out of the stack.

I assume you did your keyword magic and created a personalized Metadata Preset. Click import and your images will be imported into your Project Folder.

When you view your images, you have the choice to view all images in the stack or the favourite image only. To view all images, click alt ' to open all stacks or go to Stacks - Open All Stacks. Alternatively, you close all stack s by clicking alt ; or by selecting Stacks - Close All Stacks.

When the stacks are closed, you find a small number displayed in the left top corner of the preview image. This number (8 in the screenshot) indicates the amount of images in the stack.

If you forgot to use auto-stacking when you imported the images, but would love to organize them quickly into stacks, you can do that. Go to the Project Folder, and select the images, you want to stack. Click alt Apple A or select Stacks - Auto-Stack. A small HUD with the slider will pop up and you can adjust it to your needs.

Tip: Change the layout of your screen to Maximise Browser (alt Apple B or Window - Layouts - Maximise Browser) as you want to concentrate on how the stacks are packed. To return to the normal layout, click alt Apple S or select Window - Layouts - Basic.

After the weekend, I will return on some more details on working with stacks.

08 November 2007

Optimizing your Aperture Import Workflow - Part 5


Reading through my entries, I realized that you might want to see some more screenshots to illustrate my points and make things easier to understand. I will go through the posts over the weekend and upload some screenshots.

Remember that using the presented steps will help you becoming more effective with your import into Aperture for the long run, especially when you have to work with a lot of keywords. The initial setup can be time consuming, especially organizing the keywords.

I went through my keywords yesterday and started reorganizing them by exporting them into a text editor. This seems to work faster than working in Aperture directly. When you have a keyword more than once in your keyword list, make sure to select the correct keyword for the filter in the Smart Folder. Aperture appears to be stubborn, when it comes to that.

Some users prefer using Stacks in Aperture to organize and sort their images, others use the star rating system to stay organized. You need to see what works best for your circumstances and photo shoots. It is a theme, I will cover stacking and organizing images in Aperture soon.