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Highlights & Shadows --- sigh. #1
gfsymon's picture
by gfsymon
June 12, 2012 - 9:22am

Honestly this is so disappointing.

Highlights & Shadows is the only really interesting tool in Aperture. It permits a lot of control in a complex way. It is pretty hard to imitate this tool in other ways and yes, it is also hard to use, but why have Apple simply chopped it out? The replacement version is next to pointless and is easily replicated with other tools.

To me this simply smacks of Aperture being geared more and more to amateurs and less and less to professionals.


(For those that want to keep using it … make a preset with it (from an existing image that uses it) and apply that preset to your images. NB … this is definitely a temporary measure. I know Apple and it'll be completely removed in a future version).

Kenny Poulsen's picture
by Kenny Poulsen
June 12, 2012 - 2:16pm

Yes, this is bad for the usability of the software. Really good features now gone.

David  Moore's picture
by David Moore
June 12, 2012 - 3:32pm

This is the Instagram effect on Developers. They think every one wants push buttons to tell them what they like in an image. Wish and may they will bring back the little arrow for more details in Highlight Shadow. On the other hand I never thought of Aperture as a replacement for PS. All my client images that Im delivering go through PS My family images do not.
Twitter= @davidbmoore
Scottsdale AZ

gfsymon's picture
by gfsymon
June 12, 2012 - 9:07pm


NB that the brick is still there … with a little work-around.


Matt Cline's picture
by Matt Cline
June 13, 2012 - 12:28am

Removing something that worked well and was unique makes NO sense. If you didn’t want to use it or even see it, you didn’t need to. And it certainly looks like the kit/toy app development teams have been put in charge of the pro apps. Aperture is not the first one. Really making me nervous. I’m a pro. Not am amateur and not a pro-sumer. I need the tools and I need a company that knows NOT to remove them in upgrades. Hey Apple, I don’t use Aperture to process Johnny’s birthday party pictures or of the family vacation. I use it to maintain and edit my client’s photos from fine art portrait shoots to overseas photo-journalism. Gonna move to Lightroom and Avid if Apple doesn’t impress me really fast.

Thomas Boyd's picture
by Thomas Boyd
June 13, 2012 - 1:39am


I would disagree that H & S adjustment tool is rendered useless. I’ve been experimenting with it. I use the exact same way I always have and it works perfectly.

Care to explain how you used it previously and why it doesn’t work now? Have you used it yet?

Jon Roemer's picture
by Jon Roemer
June 13, 2012 - 3:10am


I agree and disagree with you on this. It has been dumbed down but I’ve been running some tests and the improvements are truly amazing.

I can run shadow recovery on files @ “50”, up the mid contrast a bit, and I’m blown away. Great detail, very little increase in noise and little to no bands or halos around objects.

With the new shadow/highlight tool many architecture shots where I would have had to composite highlight and shadow exposures in Photoshop after the fact, can probably now be shot the old school method. Expose for the highlights and then recover the shadows. Some more testing is needed but it looks that good.

gfsymon's picture
by gfsymon
June 13, 2012 - 2:01pm

Thomas, Jon,

I’ve been experimenting with the 2 tools on a few images. I uploaded some side-by-sides of the old and new H&S bricks.

Jon, you’ve already read this, so this is really for the forum :

1/ The speed with which the new H&S can do a sort of ‘fix’ for high contrast images is pretty impressive.
2/ The ‘Auto Enhance’ magic wand tool is pretty incredible for an instant fix. :) Genuinely useful.
3/ The shadows in the old H&S don’t really get any noisier than the new. I’ve added more mid-range contrast in the old H&S, which has brought out the grain a bit more.
4/ The new H&S falls apart very quickly if you push it too far. Colour artefacts creep into the shadows.
5/ The big difference is being able, in the old H&S, to alter the radius, and the amount that the highlights and shadows are ‘squeezed’ at each end of the histogram. It just gives you much more latitude.
6/ The old H&S is seriously fiddly and takes a lot of experimentation.
7/ The new H&S gives a very smooth, very even file when dealing with high contrast images (I didn’t upload some tests I did on those).
8/ Both the new and the old H&S have their place.
9/ You can still keep the old H&S in Ap3.3 by making a ‘Preset’ out of it. I doubt that Apple will ever remove it entirely, because they need to cater to old images that use it.

You’ll need to go full-screen with your browser :

You can see my test here on an underexposed image 1-1.5 stops under. D700 iso640.


PhotoJoseph's picture
by PhotoJoseph
June 13, 2012 - 6:04pm


Just to beat this point to death… Apple did NOT remove features. This is an ENTIRELY NEW ADJUSTMENT. And in the rewrite, instead of using a bunch of sliders that are finicky and hard to use, they simplified it and made the whole thing better.

Yes, it’s always going to be true that there will be fringe case photos that would have been better treated by the old version, but you CAN still use the old tool. Read Reclaim the Legacy Highlights & Shadows Adjustment in Aperture 3.3.

Simplification is what Apple is all about. If they can make it simpler AND better, they will.


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Richard's picture
by Richard
June 16, 2012 - 4:36pm

For me there are differences between the 3.3 and versions below it. The Highlights slider in 3.3 actually *works*, and the results are far more pleasing. I think the new version is far more useful.

Mark Alan Thomas's picture
by Mark Alan Thomas
August 20, 2012 - 12:30am

I find most of the comments here puzzling. I almost never used the old Highlights & Shadows feature because it was slow and produced unnatural looking results. The new tool, while simpler, produces superior, much more natural looking results. My only gripes are that it still slows things down a lot if I zoom in (I’m on an old dual-core MacBook Pro), and that the highlights slider doesn’t recover as much detail as I usually want it to (even combined with Recovery).

What’s the point of more control when the results are inferior?

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