A change is as good as a holiday

I seem to be starting a trend on this blog about blogging more about software and computing than about photography, but it is all related in the long run. A while back now I blogged about going back to linux as a platform for my photography work and I was highly impressed with how far things had come since I previously ventured in that direction. After a few months, I had a workflow that I was proud of and that worked incredibly well for me. This was all pretty much built around using Bibble Pro 5. I was happy with Bibble as it was fairly quick and reminded me of using Lightroom from when I had been using Windows and OS X.

Just over two weeks ago however I changed platform again and thanks to my very loving better half, am now typing on a brand new 13″ Macbook Pro. Sure, some people will tell me that the 15″ would have been a better move for the larger and slightly higher res screen but doing any form of graphic work on a smaller 1280 x 800 screen is no problem for me (I had a 14″ Acer Aspire for about a year). This thing is plenty quick for what I need to do as well.

The change presented me with a choice that I hadn’t really given much thought to in the past. With Lightroom 3 being released recently and Aperture 3 hitting stores earlier this year, I had a choice of two incredibly powerful library management and editing tools. Lightroom would have been a been a fairly safe choice given how long I had been using it and that I still have a workflow engrained in my mind, but I decided to give the free 30 day trial of Aperture 3 a go as well.

From my limited play with Aperture, I must say that I am loving it. It’s catalog management appeals to me more than that of Lightroom (this is subjective I know, but I always liked how iPhoto handled its library) and I find myself being better organised with keywords and other metadata now as well, thanks to the workflow I am developing with the┬áprogram. The colour tags that you can rename definitely mean the end of picking tags in Lightroom for certain things and trying to remember what each one was supposed to represent. It is a small thing, but something that helps in the early days of sorting out your workflow.

Editing photos was where I was where I really expected the competition to heat up. Both programs are loaded with enough editing tools to keep Photoshop sitting on the sidelines watching on for the most part and both do pretty much the same job, so not really much to talk about here. One thing that is worth mentioning though is the presets. Both applications make use of them for quick access to different types of edits but in my opinion, Lightroom has the edge. I always relied pretty heavily on the (free) presets in Lightroom that I had been collecting over the years (mostly from Lightroomkillertips.com) but moving to Aperture, well… there just aren’t that many out there. Sure, there are enough sites with the odd preset collection for sale, but they are of pretty questionable quality more often than not. I have managed to find a few free ones so far which seem to be ok, but there definitely isn’t anywhere near the same quantity (or quality). The plan at this stage is to do my part and start making my own to share.

Now, one of my favourite features so far with Aperture is the way it handles it’s full screen mode. This is what makes doing any organising or editing on the 13″ ┬ávery manageable. Just hit F and all the toolbars, dock, window trim and the finder bar disappear leaving you just with your photos floating above a black background. All your editing features are just a shortcut away at any time and the windows they open in can be moved about if they get in the way. I liked the full screen mode in Lightroom, but this is just so much more (by showing so much less).

I still have 14 days to go with my Aperture 3 trial, but so far I would say that I will be handing over the $250 for a full licence so I can continue using it. I haven’t touched on a lot of what Aperture 3 can do, but I will be doing a review of sorts if I do end up going with it in the long run.