Aperture versus Lightroom

Apple introduced “Aperture” in 2005, promoted as “the first all-in-one post production tool for photographers”; at the time, Adobe “Lightroom” did not exist. When I was ready to move from Apple “iPhoto” to a professional grade photo-editing application, I decided to stay within the Apple ecosystem and migrated to Aperture. As I gained experience with Aperture, I developed an efficient image processing workflow that produced excellent results consistently.

Fast forward to Summer 2014, when Apple announced plans to cease development of Aperture. At that point it was obvious that I would have to migrate from Aperture to Lightroom, sooner or later. As long as Aperture still works — its days are numbered by the next iteration of the Apple operating system — it is/was easier to continue using Aperture, an application with which I am familiar and comfortable. But the doomsday countdown clock is ticking, so I recently started working on a project to create a new “recipe” for a typical workflow using Lightroom CC that is similar to my tried-and-true recipe for Aperture.

The new recipe is almost finished. The heavy lifting is complete; I’m currently working to refine the process. As a test, I decided to use both recipes, old and new, to edit the same image, in this case a male Painted Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula semifasciata) spotted on 20 May 2015 near a vernal pool in a remote location in the forest at Huntley Meadows Park.

Apple Aperture

A Painted Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula semifasciata) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

Apple Aperture | standard recipe

Aperture features several options for “Auto” adjusting White Balance: “Natural Gray”; “Skin Tone”; and “Temperature & Tint.” In my experience, Natural Gray works better for vegetation; Temperature & Tint works better for wood surfaces such as trees, the boardwalk at Huntley Meadows Park, etc. I like the lush greens that result when Natural Gray is selected.

Abobe Lightroom CC

In contrast, after making comparable settings in Lightroom, I think the greens that result are too bright and too yellow.

A Painted Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula semifasciata) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

Adobe Lightroom CC | Edit 1

In Edit 2, shown below, I tweaked the “Tone Curve” for “Darks.” In my opinion, Edit 2 looks better than Edit 1, although I think the greens are still a little too bright and yellow, more noticeable in a head-to-head match-up with the Aperture version.

A Painted Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula semifasciata) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

Adobe Lightroom CC | Edit 2

Lightroom is similar to Photoshop in that there are many ways to do the same task. In Edit 3, I reset the Tone Curve adjustments in Edit 2 and tweaked “Luminance” (brightness) for “Green.” I like the results, although I might have decreased Luminance a little too much. Which version do you prefer, Lightroom Edit 1, 2, or 3?

A Painted Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula semifasciata) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

Adobe Lightroom CC | Edit 3

Lessons Learned

What are some of the take-aways from my experimentation? First, both Aperture and Lightroom produce good results. In fact, if I had never seen the results from Aperture, I’m guessing I would have been satisfied with Lightroom Edit 1.

More steps are required in Lightroom in order to create an image that has the same “look” as I get using Aperture. And it’s worth pointing out that because I think Photoshop does a better job of noise reduction and image sharpening than Lightroom, the extra steps involved in “round-tripping” between Lightroom and Photoshop are added to my typical workflow.

All of that being said, Lightroom is the way forward, so I am divorcing Aperture and marrying Lightroom, for better or worse. I’m still working on refining the workflow I use in Lightroom. At some point in the near future, I will publish my new “recipe.”

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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12 Responses to “Aperture versus Lightroom”

  1. Mike Powell Says:

    I think I have a slight preference for edit 3. As you point out, it is possible to endlessly tweak photos, even if you do come up with a recipe. I suspect I’ll be jumping to Lightroom myself in the future.

  2. Victor Rakmil Says:

    I like edit 3. I have been with Lightroom from the start it has numerous tricks up its sleeve (edit neutral density filters, option key when using sharpen etc.) you should enjoy it.

    • waltersanford Says:

      Thanks for your comments, Victor! Do you have a standard/typical workflow “recipe” that you’re willing to share? I’m especially curious to know more about tips & tricks for noise reduction and sharpening in Lightroom.

      • Victor Rakmil Says:

        In Lightroom , crop, dust removal, auto in main panel, fixes to exposure, move to photoshop for noise reduction with MacPhun, smart sharpening And anything else needs doing. Adobe has some excellent video tutorials lots of other help on the web (search by module. ) Hope this helps

  3. Jean Reiland Says:

    I use the Lightroom/Photoshop plan for 9.99 a month. It offers an endless learning curve.

    • waltersanford Says:

      Thanks for your comments, Jean! I subscribed to the same plan when it was first offered. That’s right — I’ve been paying for software that I use rarely! Well, that’s only half true. I have used Photoshop a lot; Lightroom, not so often. Do you have a standard/typical workflow “recipe” that you’re willing to share?

      • Jean Reiland Says:

        I download to Lightroom. The shots that need minimal editing stay in Lightroom, the ones that need cropping go to Photoshop. That’s the basic workflow. I play with Lightroom presets and what I know in Photoshop. I learn very slowly.!

        • waltersanford Says:

          You can crop/straighten photos in Lightroom, you know. Select a photo from the Library module. Go to the Develop module. Tap the “R” key and go for it!

          • Jean Reiland Says:

            I do that too, I like the zooming option in Photoshop, I can see more detail. I also like Lightrooms noise reduction. It’s easier. I do that before photoshop gets it, if I plan on cropping.

  4. cindydyer Says:

    Edit 2 gets my vote!

    • waltersanford Says:

      Thanks, CD! I agree. Do you have a standard/typical workflow “recipe” that you’re willing to share? I’m especially curious to know more about tips & tricks for noise reduction and sharpening in Lightroom.

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