As most of you already know but some may not, I am an avid Nikon shooter, black and white photographer, ex-commercial/fashion photographer, and film shooter. So what does this have to do with Aperture 3 and digital photography? Believe it or not a whole lot but you need to know how I arrived where I am and also get some context about what I am about to recommend.
Being a Nikon digital shooter since the way way back time of a decade ago, I am very familiar with Nikon Capture - as ugly as it was, it has grown over the years and it's current incarnation is NX2. Capture NX2 is not a supreme work-flow tool but it did give me an introduction to Nik Software's control points because they are built in. After using them you become extremely spoiled and do not ever want to use a brush again for masking - nor anything else. At least not for the most part. Having been active in fashion and commercial photography I am no slouch when it comes to Photoshop either. Enter Nik Viveza and then Nik Silver EFX Pro, and then Nik DFine, and then Nik Sharpener. You get the idea. I love them all but…
I do not use the Aperture plug-ins. I use the Photoshop plug-ins. I do this not only because I own Photoshop but also because it is a far far better work-flow than using the Aperture plug-ins. If you have ANY need for Photoshop or even if you don't but use more than one image filter in any frequent way on the same image what I am about to say might be for you.
My work-flow for just about any image that requires localized corrections and ANY image tilter like Viveza or Silver EFX Pro, or anything else is ALWAYS - "edit with…" CS4 from Aperture. The reason I do this is two primary factors - space efficiency and work-flow efficiency. All of my local adjustments and filters are packaged into just one 16-bit PSD that is only a little bit bigger than EACH AND EVERY file you create if you use more than one Aperture plug-in. The second and bigger reason is that I immediately create a smart object in Photoshop CS4 that does a couple things - it is a bit of a space saver for filters vs. multiple bitmapped layers and better yet every single thing I do is saved and can be tweaked without having to re-invent the wheel to go back in my work-flow.
Now that Aperture 3 is 64bit and Nik plug-ins are still 32bit I am even more glad that I choose to do this vs struggling with switching modes and all the issues of running 32bit plug-ins in Aperture 3. That brings me to my next point about the state of affairs with Nik plug-ins, Aperture 3, Photoshop CS5, and any other 32bit plug-ins you might already have. If you are wondering what do to about upgrades, etc. JUST STOP for a second and consider the following.
CS5 is 64bit but a whole lot of plug-ins, including NIk's are 32bit. They can work but not well - they actually have MORE memory space under CS4. If you are going to upgrade seriously consider waiting for your plug-ins to be 64bit before doing so. If you own Nik's 32bit plug-ins for Aperture seriously consider buying the 64bit versions of PHOTOSHOP plug-ins rather than upgrading your Aperture plug-ins. If I am right Nik is going to charge a bundle for the 64-bit upgrade for existing customers - they always do. Do yourself another favor - nag the crap out of them to allow you to "upgrade" your Aperture plugins to Photoshop plug-ins for some fee. This is not an available option last time I checked but I do know of some few that were successful in convincing Nik to allow this - don't know the details.
My own plan is to upgrade my CS4 to CS5 when the Nik plug-ins are 64bit unless I have a really really good reason to do it sooner. I would have about 3 years ago or 10 years ago when my giant film scans were active work but now I scan only a little bit of film - I can wait.
Ps. Attached is stupid ass cloud image snapped with D2H and processed with Silver EFX Pro