Weekly Aperture Complaint

DSC0029.jpgBeen really really busy lately so I haven't had time to complain about Apple and their apparent conspiracy to drive Aperture users completely out of their minds so I thought I would rant a little and maybe even provide a little helpful info for the uninitiated photo manipulator (retoucher/whatever). Yep another Apple announcement and not peep about Aperture. I didn't really expect one at the music event but it just is another tiny little mile-marker of no Aperture updates. Hey if Apple can put a freaking movie camera in a freaking nano why the heck can't I have a god dang Aperture update?

Anyway on to the rant/education session. A reader emailed me and asked me why every time I mention Aperture updates I rail about the lack of non-destructive local adjustments and pooh-pooh the lame dodge/burn tool. The reader thought that it worked "fine". Okay here is a short answer. Local dodge/burn is absolutely fundamental in just about every photographic endeavor you can pursue. It is pretty much up there with lighting, color, composition, etc. The fact is that it may be the only fundamental part in the image making process that Aperture lacks, at least non-distructively. The non-destructive part is really not about destruction, it's about fine tuning and trying different amounts, etc. To have such a lame tool for such a fundamental thing just plain sucks.

You might be saying "What?, dodge and burn fundamental?" Yup - assume you have the light, composition, subject, etc right. All done right? Nope - even if you have no taste for anything way out there in terms of image manipulation - just strait photography, old schoool. For that matter new school. Local exposure adjustments pretty much make or break just about every photograph that you have ever admired, liked, or even grabbed your attention for more than an instant. Ever hear the idiotic and overly used new fangled term "painting with light". That is new internet speak for dodging and burning. You want your images to look "as good as that guy's (substitute your favorite photographer of the moment) There is a 100% chance that local exposure adjustments will get you 80% of the way there.

Here is a relatively stark example of what I am talking about. When you see the two images side by side there will be absolutely no confusion as to which one was "manipulated". I am not claiming that this is a masterful example I did it in about 90 seconds right before I wrote this and I was a bit heavy handed to the point of bordering on cartoonishness for the purposes of illustration. Dollars to doughnuts that 99.9% of people would have no idea that I messed with it if I did not show the before and make it so obvious.

Here is the original using ACR RAW processing defaults strait out of the camera. The color sucks because I used ACR default, the Nikon camera profiles are spot on and look fantastic right out of the camera.

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Not too, too bad. Fantastic model, generally good colors, nice lighting, separation from the background, in focus, reasonably sharp. Okay now what. Well let's get the color back to the way Nikon intended using one of the ACR Nikon camera profiles, I used D2x mode 3 - I really really liked the D2 series mode there color renditions. Kind of made me nostalgic for the good old days where film actually had a color personality. Oh one more thing, lets dodge and burn it a little.

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Hey now we are cooking with gas. That's right folks, just your garden variety dodge and burn, or as the kids say "painting with light". In case you can't see it I will walk you though the changes. I darkened the edges a hair, burned down the hotspot on the headboard, and burned down the sheets in the lower right. Even with a grid and the box feathered in I just could not keep the light off the bottom right of the sheets. I guess I could have put a gobo up but I was minus an assistant. That's it for the burning. You may be surprised but I actually dodged the highlights in general to emphasize highlights that were there, I just make them more obvious and a wee bit more specular to add a bit more curviness to the models curviness and add some shininess to her hair. Emphasizing highlights like this to add a little extra dimension is the bread and butter of pretty much all photographic retouching be it fashion, beauty, or landscapes.

For the couple of people that asked here is the image with ACR using the D2x mode three camera profile without the local adjustments to make it easier to see where exactly what is going on in the image.

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Any more questions why I think Apple needs to ditch the bad example of a dodge and burn plug-in?

RB

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