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A few bits on Aperture 1.5
I'm glad to see Apple addressing the issues around the Library system. I wasn't particularly bothered by this, but I know that a lot of other people were. I do think that the changes in 1.5 will make it easier for me to do things like write projects (or parts of projects to removable media). I've just been using a second hard drive as vault volume, which works well, but doesn't help with off site backup.
The new edge sharpen and color tools are nice -- I've come to realize that I am going to want some selective editing tools -- the kinds of things that you can do in Photoshop with masking layers and such. I probably won't want to do this to every photo, but there are some photos where I probably will want to be able to apply such treatments. The more that I learn about photography, the less adamant I get about doing adjustments to pictures. It turns out that lots of things have been done to pictures via filter, darkroom or other techniques over the years. Alain Briot has an interesting essay on these and related matters.
I'm also pleased to see that Apple has taken steps to integrate Aperture with iLife/iWork and the rest of OS X. I've been using some of my top rated pictures as screensaver images, and the new support is welcome, although ideally, I'd be able to use an album or smart album as the source for the screensaver (right now you can only use projects).
My favorite two improvements in Aperture 1.5 are the performance boosts, and the plugin API. The last time I saw James Duncan Davidson, we were swapping Aperture experiences, and we both sort of agreed that all that Apple would have to do for a decent 2.0 would be to fix the performance. Performance of 1.1.x was okay, but not super snappy, and I usually had to quit any RAM hogging applications before I could really crank up Aperture. No longer. It took Aperture over a day and a half to make all the previews for the contents of my photo library, but I was still able to use my machine. Going in and out of full screen mode is much faster, and other operations appear noticeably faster as well.
I sort of lied about the plugin API -- the actual improvement is that Fraser Spiers has done an Aperture version of his FlickrExport. Getting stuff up onto Flickr has been a pain for me ever since I got the MacBook and stopped using iPhoto. While Fraser hasn't yet hit all the items on my Flickr uploader wishlist, he has done some things that I didn't think to put on the list, like adding photos to a pool (now let me do more than one...). I'm not sure how some of the things on my wishlist would work as an export plugin, particularly scheduled/batch uploading, but being able to upload from Aperture is going to keep me happy for a while.
Here's the first photo I uploaded using FlickrExport for Aperture:
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