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Book Review by Chris Biele of “Mastering Apple Aperture” by Thomas Fitzgerald

Joseph @ThePhotosExpert's picture
September 25, 2013 - 7:00pm

Today’s guest post is by Chris Biele. Chris is a wedding, portrait and commercial photographer based in the East of England. Before switching to full time photography, Chris managed an Apple Reseller store in Marbella, Spain. You can see some of Chris’ work at, like his page on Facebook at or follow him on Twitter @chrisbiele. If interested in the book, please use the affiliate links at the bottom of the review!

Chris Biele’s Review of Thomas Fitzgerald’s book “Mastering Apple Aperture”

As with all of Apple’s pro grade software, Aperture’s easy to use interface is built upon an abundance of complex and powerful features. The new book Mastering Apple Aperture by Thomas Fitzgerald has great insight into many of these hidden elements which can take your imaging workflow to the next level, although he does leave a few stones unturned.

Fitzgerald refrains from covering the very basics of the program in the understanding that you probably already have basic knowledge of working with Apple Macs and Aperture. As someone who generally skips the user manual and dives right in, I was very thankful for this. Instead he helps the reader find the right tools to increase their productivity while giving real world examples of how and when to use them.

For many first time Aperture users, skipping over it’s abundant metadata and file management tools is the very first mis-step on the road to an unorganized and unwieldy photo library. Chapter 1 leads readers down the correct path by explaining the importance of one of Aperture’s strongest qualities; importing and organizing images. From the hidden features of the Import Dialog to the value of organizing your projects in a meaningful way, Thomas takes his time to explain things like creating metadata presets, why to choose managed or referenced images, using project templates to replicate smart album structures and managing multiple libraries. He even has a brilliant tip on working with in-camera black and white images.

There are three separate chapters dedicated to image editing in Aperture which explain many features in great detail. He begins this section by successfully demystifying Aperture’s ‘adjustment tree’, leaving the reader with a true understanding of what is happening behind the scenes and an appreciation for Aperture’s outstanding 32bit image processing. The all powerful Curves adjustment receives it’s very own chapter, and rightly so. With the ability to selectively recover highlights, increase or decrease contrast, change color casts, change the overall brightness and much more, Curves is the mack daddy of Aperture adjustments.

While it’s obvious that Fitzgerald is trying to focus on Aperture’s most powerful tools, some great editing features are skipped right over, which is a bit of a shame. One such example is the Quick Brush adjustments. Things like Skin Smoothing and the Blur brush can be great assets to a rapid workflow, but can result in dreadful effects when used incorrectly.

Another set of features I constantly use which seem to be absent in this book are the Hot & Cold clipping and color clipping viewer modes. These two modes are invaluable for determining if your shadows or highlights are clipping, or if you are loosing any information in a particular color channel. They can be toggled using the key command Shift + Alt + H (Hot & Cold Highlights) or by holding the Command key while adjusting the Exposure, Recovery or Black Point sliders, Curves In & Out sliders or the White and Black point on Levels (Color Channel Clipping).

The subsequent chapters cover in depth methods for using external image editors and plugins, exporting and sharing images, correctly applying Metadata and how to get better prints from Aperture. The information covered here is all key to taking your image editing, organization and delivery to a professional level. There are also some ingenious workarounds to help manage Aperture’s shortcomings.

Of the few key features left out of this book, only one can not be forgiven, and that is the Command Editor. A commanding workflow warrants the sheer power of keyboard shortcuts, and Apple kept this in mind when they built the Command Editor’s exceptionally elegant interface. From here you can quickly and easily see what key commands are mapped to what functions, complete with visual feedback from a virtual keyboard. You can even add key commands for your own custom effects.

All in all, Mastering Apple Aperture is a terrific read for photographers of any level who want to get a grip on their post-production workflow. It is very well written, concise and offers a deep insight into the true power of Aperture without getting too technical. Highly recommended.

Purchase this book on Amazon US or Amazon UK or iBooks Store or read more about it at the Packt Publishing website.

Joseph @ThePhotosExpert
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