One of Aperture’s more curiously powerful features is Stacks. Unfortunately to the uninitiated, it’s probably just as confusing as it is useful—a point apparently recognized by Apple itself; when Aperture 3 was released, they set the default position of the “Automatically stack new versions” preference to off.
OK, What are Stacks?
Stacks are a collapsible collection of photos. There are two primary uses for stacks:
- To collect a series of similar images where you only want one to be prominent. These are usually shot in a sequence, for example the series of shots leading up to the wedding kiss, the series of shots leading to the touchdown, the series of nearly identical shots of a flower. In editing, the idea is that you’d “pick” the best shot, and that would go to the top of the stack. Close the stack, and you only see the best one. Open it, and you see the rest.
- To manage a series of Versions of the same image. If you have a photo and create a series of versions (say a B&W one, a cropped one, or just a series of experiments of adjustments), then they can all be kept together in a Stack so you know at a glance that they are in fact the same photo. Ultimately you “pick” the one you like best, and again when you close the stack, you only see the favorite one.
There is no visual differentiation between these two uses, which may be to blame for some of the confusion. And there’s nothing stopping you from combining these two uses either; ten photos in a sequence, plus a handful of versions of those photos, can all be in a single stack.
Then just to add another level of complexity, you have two stack designators; the Stack Pick and the Album Pick. This allows you to have a different pick in an Album than in the Project. You don’t have to, but you can. Confusing, yes, but also dead useful.
So with all that on the table, let’s go through the steps.