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Aperture, I Come Not To Praise Thee…

Robert Boyer's picture
July 1, 2014 - 9:00pm

Aperture, I Come Not To Praise Thee

I come to bury thee. Something along those lines, who’s line was that anyway? Marc somebody or other. Like most of you, my first reaction was one of those stages of grief — anger, shock maybe. I certainly expected an Aperture X. After a day or two my first thoughts disappeared replaced with a new emotion, a new thought process, expectations. I rewound the clock to late 2005. I was late to digital. Not being some sort of curmudgeon, or out of fear, or even laziness to learn something new. Truth is my color output was digital for years before most people. I just hated the cameras, I hated the process after the in-camera work. It was slow, tedious, cumbersome, boring, clumsy, disconnected, slow, just plain unenjoyable.

Does anyone remember vintage 2003 or 2004 RAW workflow? Give me film any day of the week. Shoot — Done. I still like film for that reason among a few other more technical and aesthetic characteristics that never really got sorted with digital. Long story short, along came Aperture v 1.0. I think I have the original email from Apple. It was expensive, five hundred bucks if I memory serves. As soon as I read the marketing copy I got it. I bought it same day. This was it, finally, a revolution. Apple in one swift, elegant maneuver (visualize as Brad Pitt’s Achilles when he takes out the big guy in the first minutes of the movie) completely obliterated what a pro RAW workflow looked like. Without Aperture do you think any of the other products out there would look anything like they do? Nope. Let’s hope that the new guard really really has been Jobs-ized and is thinking like Apple was back then.

How Apple Works

Ever since Steve Jobs’ encore performance at Apple, they’ve done something as a technology company that no other has done. They chuck stuff over the side when it’s run it’s course. Gone, out with the old in with the new. Instead of dragging along every old, bad, kludgy, ill-conceived hunk of crap ever cobbled together they dump it overboard completely replacing it. They provide a migration path — sometimes not perfect — sometimes painful and then they dump that after a short time as well. Instead of dragging along a bunch of old crap they emulate functionality and force everyone to move along with them. Trust me this is a far better way of managing technology than holding onto legacy crap forever. Hell, even if it still works it’s buggy, nobody remembers how it works, it's costly, and constraining. I like this about Apple, so why would I deny them a chance when over and over again they’ve displayed the same pattern.

Remember OS 9? That was obliterated very quickly and we’re all better off for it. Firewire? CD/DVD drives? ADB? Resource Forks? PowerPC? All completely gone along with a myriad of other stuff under the hood. Apple pushes the tech, shoves it down your throat. You may not like that. More accurately they make it workable for normal people that really don’t want to be fiddling with tech-stuff as some sort of side job or hobby, then they shove it down everyone’s throat.

Apple pushed the entire industry to HD, LCD, long battery life, good looking computing devices, small, thin, light, wireless. Who had workable WiFi in all their stuff years before anyone else? How about GigE? How about Thunderbolt? Who else uses the tech that’s both stable and the best way do it and then moves on while it’s user base is blissfully unaware — at least for the most part. PowerPC to intel… I could go on and on. Yes PowerPC was better in many, many ways—while it was better. Then it wasn’t. What happened? We took a minor performance hit for about a year. Who cares? What we didn’t get were 2-inch thick 15 pound laptops that melted you, and had 14 minute battery life. Give me a 15 inch Al-book G4 any day of the week.

I promise this is going somewhere. Hold on. I need the context both for those of you that have been around the block with computing since the 80’s like me and for you newbies.

The Power of The Mass Consumer

Now a little bit of photography history to put you to sleep if the above didn’t do it. Since the dawn of time, photographically speaking, “how pros do things” has been a constantly moving target. Every single time the “pros” that stuck it out believing the newer, more friendly way of doing things would never cut it… they’ve been wrong. Daguerreotypes, tin-types, wet plate, dry plate, sheet film, automation, digital, every single time “the pros” that haven’t embraced change been wrong. 

The mass consumer drives photographic technology innovation and quality. It always has and it always will. Does this mean those that have the technical skill and knowledge aren’t better prepared and better informed how and when to embrace and use those innovations? Of course it doesn’t but you need to realize “how pros do it” is temporal in nature. Even with tech stuff it’s completely contextual and temporal. Let’s take just one example of silliness that’s a bit more up to date; ”Pros strip all EXIF, IPTC, and color profile information” from their images when they put them on the web. Well, maybe that was a good idea in 1991 when color management was a twinkle in the eye of the lunatic they never let out of the basement and we were surfing with 1200 baud but now? Oh yea — great idea getting rid of those couple of text bytes in the world of the searchable, categorizable, metadata driven automation world. Yes this “pro methodology” still happens to this day… why? I guess due to blind repetition of the rules. There’s a million notions like that out there. It’s probably a good idea to keep an open mind and embrace things that provide new opportunities by thinking through what you gain vs. what you lose. Using that blatant example, evaluation of the minutiae of something new may tell you that you have no choice in removing the color profile on export or striping IPTC info you’ve put in. Maybe you should ask yourself why you are doing this as a matter of course in the first place. Just a metaphor but fitting.

There that wasn’t too, too bad was it? Context for the real part of the story of Aperture’s demise.

Apple Cares About Photography

Let me revise that… Apple cares about media, all of it. Does this mean they will serve the needs of every single solitary requirement for every single person… nope. They do care a hell of a lot about photography though, just like they care a whole lot about video, audio, music, et al. So why not Aperture X? Great question and I wish Apple would actually just satisfy my personal curiosity but I’ll take a stab in the dark here. I could be completely off. I am prognosticating after all.

Let’s talk about video for a moment. We all realize video is a different beast than still photos right? There really does need to be a pro version and a normal version of Apple’s non-linear video editing software. A hell of a lot of it relies on the same core services it’s just that the UI features and capabilities etc, are way different. For the most part the thought process between the two apps is the same. Take a look if you haven’t. It’s one of the reasons there was such a strong reaction to Final Cut Pro X. It’s de-complicated but super powerful. This is the future regardless of whether the current sticks-in-the mud want it to be or not. When? I don’t know but it is. Just like the end-to-end workflow for RAW was in 2005.

This same thing goes for Audio. Garage Band is excellent for what it is but the complexities of pro-studio recording are far, far too complicated to shove on most people. Even so, Garage Band on iOS exceeds the capabilities of the most expensive digital audio and even analog pro studios two decades ago. I won’t go into details but both apps are fantastic.

Let’s take a closer look at still photography for a moment. Are pro needs really different from consumer needs in still photography? I’ll venture that they are not. Before you go berserk think this through. Both on the hardware end and requirements perspective they have converged. First off lets look at the hardware. A new iOS device is an order of magnitude more capable than most high-end hardware was in 2005. Don’t think so… you can edit HD video on iMovie for iOS. Remember when Apple shoved HD down to the consumer way back then. It worked but was painful even on a MacPro. Stills are a piece of cake, even RAW files.

As for requirements… any sliders at all were just not for ”pros”. That’s changed a bit. Even ACR - it’s all in the sliders. Aperture or any of the other mainstay work-flow tools aren’t for compositing, liquify-ing, applying makeup that wasn’t there, puppet-warping, content-semi-aware-aspect-ratio changing, etc, etc. What they all do is basic tonal and color correction, contrast, spotting, camera fault/lens fault amelioration, etc. All of that used to be complicated stuff now it’s all automatic or sliders.

Organization has a lot of the same similarities. Metadata based smart collections, static groupings, fast searches on the fly, etc. Still photographs are vastly different from audio and video. I propose we are at a point where consumer and pro still photography needs are about the same for the stuff that can be considered capture, process, and organize. It certainly fragments from there but for all of the RAW workflow tools it’s the same consumer or pro. Well, at least it is for the major functions. We’ll save the tethering stuff and all that for another day but even tethering is sort of obsolete. If not yet, it will be soon as a specialized differentiation from the norm of shoot it and it’s everywhere immediately point of view.

To close this part down I’ll offer this; iPhoto and Aperture have been converging in function for years. They share the same core imaging engine and even database now. I don’t think they fired the Aperture guys. It makes sense that both apps become one app. The hardware and functional requirements for both are at a nexus point.

What This Really Means

GPU, unified API, third party stuff, RAW engine enhancements, iCloud, all of it. It all means something that will be quite wonderful. iCloud is going to be dropbox on steroids, 3rd party stuff will hook right into the iOS photo app stuff in new and better ways. This is all about parity and ubiquity and having everything play nicely and transparently together on both platforms.

In reality I think this also means RAW on iOS, if not now then soon. It might even mean all the stuff I wanted in Aperture for iOS just happens in a much bigger way then I might have imagined. Will we see a bit of backwards before we start seeing forwards? Will we have less before we get more? Most likely yes but that might be okay. If I remain openminded as I have in the past and let go of notions about the way we used to do it back in the day then I just might be better off.

More prognostication and speculation based on a few data-points. How many 3rd party thing-a-ma-gigs are out there for photo related endeavors on iOS? Too many to count. What do you think makes more money for lets say umm… VSCO; Film for LR/ACR or VSCOcam with in-app purchases? Based on how much of the VSCO blog and twitter fodder is VSCOcam related I’ll bet you it’s the iOS stuff. They will be all over this like flies on s$#@t. Very cool. Good chance Nik, and the rest of them will be too… maybe. If not the old players, then someone else. What about RAW? Well, that’s just a matter of time in my opinion.

The future of compute intensive tasks is boatloads of GPU cores. Apple was the first to bring this to the consumer slowly starting with Aperture, Final Cut Pro, and some other apps, then rolling it into both iOS and OS X API’s directly. Do you think Apple’s higher level services don’t piggy back on that stuff? Of course it does. Why are boatloads of GPU cores the answer? Power management, battery life, heat, and scalability are the answer. Fine grained power management is much easier when you have a ton of little processors that aren’t in use. Combine that with better performance when you need it and you’ve got a win. Checkout the specs on the A7, 64-bit, the 4-core GPU, the optimization of all those GPU compute related API’s and how that dovetails with LLVM (a painful changeover from gnu-c a while back that I thought was all about license B.S. Maybe not so much… If you’re not so techie I’ll bottom line it for you—RAW from a computational standpoint is nothing on the A7 if done right. Games are way worse.

I think I’m spot-on here. The only real question is if this all comes together in the Yosemite era or the next one. Lots of it is directly marketed for this year just in more consumer-y words. The iOS developers absolutely know what a lot of this stuff means to them. The unification of the photo ecosystem within iOS is a really really big deal. The message was that it’s also being unified across OS X too. Yes, it was explained as an iCloud-y consumer-y thing but it’s way way bigger than that. The only real question is, when as end-users will we see feature capability parity and more in an ever-increasingly transparent package.

All About Me

When it comes to photographic correction and manipulation, I’m agnostic. I can make anything work. I’m an expert user of all of ‘em. I really don’t care that much. The more they get out of my way the better. I can’t wait until they all go away. I use Aperture 3 as my library of reference. I use it to import, sift, rate, juxtaposition, and cull my work. I use it because it’s elegant and invisible not because I can’t and don’t use any other RAW processors, I do. Aperture 3 isn’t going anywhere this week. I’m not that wed to anything so I’m not worried. All my photos are there, are my metadata is there, I can move it anywhere I want and process them any way I want. I do it all the time now. I may be the odd man out but I’ve been set up to do this since the beginning.

What am I going to do? I am going to get familiar with what actually does, I’m going to take a step back and see if it feels like it’s the future even if it lacks something here or there. Everything lacks something here or there. I don’t exclusively use Aperture 3 for RAW decode now, never did. If there’s a glimmer of looking like it’s the future for most people even if it can’t be out of the gate I’ll be on-board. Just like I was with Final Cut Pro X.

I’ll certainly be there with my thoughts on the matter and the realities of living with that new ecosystem. If you need some help I’m sure I’ll not be the only person with this take that’s serious about photography. We’ll see. I see this as unexpected but with a tiny bit of reflection, it’s natural and has left me wide-eyed with the possibilities and probabilities of where Apple’s vision of a photo-ecosystem is going.

Hell maybe I won’t need the long overdue re-write to my existing Aperture 3 eBooks or make new ones for Maybe will be so transparent there’s no explanation required. I can’t wait until we get past this crazy techno barrier where all the complexity has to be re-hashed over and over making Kelby millions of dollars for what should be invisible and intuitive. I cannot wait for the day we can all get back to photography, except for those few people that geek out on the stuff that’s really not part of the main endeavor. Instead maybe I’ll jump into the ecosystem 3rd party game. Maybe I’ll use it that to learn Swift. Maybe my latest freebie boondoggle will turn into something that’s available to use right within iOS and Yosemite Who knows?

Of course I could be way way off and we’ll all still need Capture One, or Lightroom, or whatever but sooner or later I’ll be right.

Apple Aperture
Robert Boyer

While all that you have postulated makes good sense, in the time it will take us hard core Aperture users to see how Photo evolves, many thousands more images will be added to my library. So if Photo does not meet expectations, migrating to a new system will be all that more cumbersome. Further I will have lost time that could have been spent learning a new system. You don’t have that issue, but many of us do. Further I don’t see Adobe standing still during the evolution of Photo, and at least Adobe seems to have some stability when it comes to enthusiast/professional photographers.

I understand the direction Apple is taking and why, I just don’t see it caring about the small niche of photographers that one would find on this site. In the meantime I will have to research the best way to prepare my 5TB of libraries to convert to LR (or something) and move on to a new way of filing and editing. I will keep the old system just in case because I would like to be wrong.


I’m with Stan on this one.  Photos may turn out to be great and better suited to my needs (I’m an enthusiast, not a pro).  However, Lightroom is ready for use, here and now.  I also don’t need to worry that Adobe will stop supporting it anytime in the foreseeable future.  While I’m in no big hurry to convert my old Aperture Library to Lightroom, everything I’ve shot since the Keynote at the WWDC has gone into Lightroom.

Refreshing, enlightening, educational, cogent, sensible, possibly even reassuring to some, definitely to me…Thanks, Robert.


Florian Cortese

While it is certainly possible that Photos will be the photo tool serious photographers and consumers can both love, it almost surely will not be in version 1. I’ve used Aperture since that $499 version 1. As Robert says, it was a revaluation when it came out. The old “smack yourself on the forehead, why wasn’t this obvious before?” sort of moment.

Apple has a lot of work do due to lure back the serious photographer. Many will switch to something in the next few months. More will switch when Photos comes out at less than it’s full ending self.

And few will be willing to come back unless Photos turns into the revolutionary product that Aperture was at version 1. For others, that won’t even be enough.

Serious photographers have, for the most part, lost faith in Apple’s willingness to provide a tool for them. Aperture has languished for so long, it’s hard to imagine that Apple even cares anymore. Combine that with their secretive nature and you have a huge confidence gap.

And don’t think for a moment that you have to hold your nose and switch to Lightroom. I own it, and have used it on and off over the years, but I just can’t like it. But take a look at Capture One Pro - it really is very Aperture-like without having all the good stuff. PhaseOne offers a free 60-day fully functioning trial. And just now have extended their 50% off sale with a special discount for Aperture refugees:…

I, for one, am making the switch to Capture One Pro. And I’m blogging about the trip on my blog at Come and travel with me!

Bob Rockefeller
Midway, GA

People are free to do what they want with their photos and what system(s) they utilize.  I, for one, would never begrudge no one doing what he or she feels they must or should do. However, as long as your originals reside on your computer or external HD, I see no rush to move ALL of them into another system right now.  You can do so at anytime.  In the Kelby webinar last night, Scott and Matt pretty much told their viewers not to do so.  Any photo that we have post-processed through Aperture and with any plugin, if moved over the Lr, would lose ALL of those changes unless it was Exported to a created Lr folder as a “baked” or ‘cooked” JPEG. If you try to import it all of your changes would disappear and you would have to start over in Lr.  As long as your photos are reachable on your HDs you can move them at anytime you like.  As a matter of fact, they recommended that you move only your finished photos as exported JPEGs.  Further, many people use Lr-PS to post process their pictures them send them to Aperture for the file management.  Even Scott Kelby does this to some extent with Aperture’s superior slideshow capabilities.  He creates his slide show in JPEGs and imports them into Aperture and creates all of his slide shows in his lectures and courses in Aperture.  So move what TB volume of pictures in toto if you want, but I do not see the urgency. Also if you are set on switching you’d be best advised to wait at least until Adobe creates their script to help you move your photos from Aperture to Lr.  how long this will take is uncertain but you can bet they will want to do it BEFORE Apple releases Photos to try to capture as many people who want to bail. My thoughts, FWIW.

Florian Cortese

Florian, you are certainly right; don’t move existing images to anywhere. Aperture still works as well today as it did last week.

My issue is more about what do I do with the photos I shoot today?

The greatest time I spend on my images, after the initial edit, on on metadata, organization and image adjustment. The metadata and organization can be moved to another program, for the most part.

It’s the image adjustment work that can’t be moved. Not to, not from and not between Lightroom, Aperture Capture One Pro or wherever. And that’s the center of the decision.

Do I put in time on Aperture hoping that Photos will be great. It probably won’t be at version 1. It could be a year from now. But ONLY IF Apple will make it into a tool for serious photographers and not just pro-sumers or consumers. We don’t know and Apple won’t say.

I choose not to put a year’s worth of image adjustments into a tool that may not be able to move those adjustments to the tool I will use next summer. But I’m willing to bet, and have, that Capture One Pro will still be a professional’s tool next summer.


Bob Rockefeller
Midway, GA

I have ONE question for you Bob, no make that two…

1. Do you use photostreams?

2. Do you keep your portfolio on your iPhone/iPad/multiple computers?

3. Do you REALLY REALLY re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re adjust your images from baseline RAW files a lot?


Oooops - three questions. Not meant to incite or argue your set of strategies for sure. Just food for thought and discussion regarding where we are all going as a community of photographers… not Aperture users but certainly iOS/OS X users.



The topic of readjustment is a good one. A non-adjusted RAW will always look flat and not sharp. A plain old RAW file needs to be adjusted. If that’s not your cup of tea, one should shoot JPEG and live with the adjustments the camera applies. 

I have 30,000 images in my Lr Catalog. (I’ve always preferred Aperture, but use Lr almost exclusively for last two years because of better results) I find myself readjusting images that I shot ten years ago, because a) my photographic tastes have evolved, and b) today’s version of the RAW processor is so much better than the version from ten years ago – it’s like being able to go back in time and reprocess old film with better chemistry.

So yes, I reprocess from time to time, discovering hidden detail in highlights and shadows. It’s always a treat. 

Which you can ALWAYS DO but not necessarily need nor want to bring all the old adjustments with you…



For my client work, I almost never readjust after it’s sold. For my personal portfolio work, I love to tinker with the old stuff, and am often just as likely to start from scratch again with the old original RAW as I am to tweak a setting. 

Me too, I either use a rendering I've done as is or start from the ground up…



Fair questions.

1) No.

2) Yes.

3) Yes. Once the initial edit is done, most of them get at least some tweaks. Some get more than tweaks. The portfolio-grade images may well get a trip to Photoshop.

To me, Apple’s revolutionary move here would be to really combine their OS X and iOS systems. Use their knowledge of optimizing for GPUs (especially in the Mac Pros) and their new Metal framework to pump everything out of the upcoming A8. Build apps that make it seamless to work on either an iPad, a MacBook or a desktop Mac linked by iCloud and the Continuity stuff they showed at WWDC. RAW non-destructive editing on an iPad? In 2015? Sure.

Can they do that? Yes. Will they do that? I’ll bet they’re a lot smarter than me and already have the prototypes running. Will it come together in time to keep the rest of the flood of serious photographers from moving off Apple software? I think not. Will Apple be able to lure enough of them back in the summer of 2015? We’ll see.


Bob Rockefeller
Midway, GA


What if Apple has figured out how to let plug-ins insert themselves into the RAW display chain? Then you could have non-destructive add-ins to do just about anything you can think of. NIK software as a brick in Photos for adjustments? Killer.

Bob Rockefeller
Midway, GA

1) and 2) - Photostreams ARE THE BOMB


Ummmm, the rest of what you said is EXACTLY what this article was explaining AND Apple's new imaging API tweaks ALLOW EXACTLY that re: 3rd Party stuff AND they are providing parity on across both platforms etc etc etc etc…

Move, don't move, flip, flop, drive down the middle of the road, sit on the fence… whatever. You do forget one thing… Apple's STUFF IS ALL FREE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I cannot wait to get to the point where my workflow is the moral equivalent of what it was in the 90's… Shoot and Done. With all the nitty gritty crap done to my taste by my favorite lab/color guy….

Yep - I could/have done that now by using an “guy” (actually a female) to do my PP (I do the edit - as in select/cull) but that is CRAZY expensive compared to what my film processing and contacts used to cost.

For me the more this shit just gets out of my way and is invisible the better. I know you will find this hard to believe but I HATE HATE HATE talking about the tech/processing/artifacts of the process. Typically my tone is that I damn it all to hell, it all sucks, it's all just nutty stuff that's immature and a giant distraction… ;-)


1) and 2) - Photostreams ARE THE BOMB


Ummmm, the rest of what you said is EXACTLY what this article was explaining AND Apple's new imaging API tweaks ALLOW EXACTLY that re: 3rd Party stuff AND they are providing parity on across both platforms etc etc etc etc…

Move, don't move, flip, flop, drive down the middle of the road, sit on the fence… whatever. You do forget one thing… Apple's STUFF IS ALL FREE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I cannot wait to get to the point where my workflow is the moral equivalent of what it was in the 90's… Shoot and Done. With all the nitty gritty crap done to my taste by my favorite lab/color guy….

Yep - I could/have done that now by using an “guy” (actually a female) to do my PP (I do the edit - as in select/cull) but that is CRAZY expensive compared to what my film processing and contacts used to cost.

For me the more this shit just gets out of my way and is invisible the better. I know you will find this hard to believe but I HATE HATE HATE talking about the tech/processing/artifacts of the process. Typically my tone is that I damn it all to hell, it all sucks, it's all just nutty stuff that's immature and a giant distraction… ;-)


Robert, you are right that it is evolve or die: wet plate, dry plate and their friends have lost against newer, more powerful, and more user-friendly technologies. But with that argument, you’re comparing apples to oranges.

Software development always boils down to number of use cases (a.k.a. features) vs. available resources. In the real world there are always more use cases to implement than there are resources. Now, what does this mean for vs. Aperture?

Apple will focus on those use cases that will yield the largest return for their investment. And this is where I have to respectfully disagree with your line of argumentation: those use cases with the highest priority for will most likely not be those use cases that we would like to see implemented for Aperture 4. In fact, we already know that Photos 1.0 will not have all the features that Aperture 3 currently has.

Another important factor to factor into this analysis is that use cases are specific for the person working with an application. A 14 year old trying to create the perfect selfie for her hip Instatooblebook  account has completely different needs than a wildlife photographer on a trip to the Bolivian jungle than a wedding photographer coming home after a 10hour shooting day with 3000 images to process in 48 hours. Yes, it would be cool to have all those cool cloud possibilities (and I really see why people would want this). But still, the use cases of those pro photographer mentioned above are fundamentally different from those of the 14year old. However, it seems to be Apples’ decision to provide both with only one tool.

Things like

  • multi-card import 
  • efficient geo tagging of images
  • culling hundreds of images
  • fine-tuning raw processing of images to access that last bit of your sensor’s capabilities
  • support for complex keyword hierarchies and project structures
  • working without internet connection
  • long term stability of your investment in your digital asset management software

probably will not be as important to the users of the most frequently used camera (a.k.a. iPhone). 

Yes, Aperture won’t stop working tomorrow. Yes, Apple announced that Aperture will be patched to run on 10.10. But what will happen after that? Does that mean, I’ll not be able to upgrade to 10.11 without having to migrate xx.000 images to a new DAM solution? 

I believe, this is what this fuzz really is about: pro photographers (rightfully) fear for the stability of their investment (Aperture license, know how about their workflow, countless hours invested in their digital library).

Apple has shown in the past (e.g. iWork rewrite) that they don’t care about their old loyal user base. And why should they? The size of the new user base they are targeting is a multiple of the size of what Aperture is targeting right now. From a business perspective it makes perfect sense to do what they do.

But please forgive me, as a photographer, I’m not getting my hopes up for Photos 1.0, Photos 2.0 and Photos 3.0. And you shouldn’t, too!

Yep, yep, yep,


My point… for most people (including me) my “use cases” are pretty stinking simple - color correct, contast, exposure tweak with good quality output results in the easiest quickest way possible… every once in a while some broad quick local adjustments, and application of a “look”. Make nice looking prints.


Obviously the ability to group/select/cull/view images VERY QUICKLY and efficiently.


In most cases when we are talking RAW PROCESSORS this is it end of story. Not PS. I contend that pro/consumer needs are converging pretty quickly for the most part on the basics… none of it is rocket science nor should it be.



Great article Robert! Two things will allow Photos to shatter the digital darkroom paradigm - raw level extensibility and cross device editing built from the OS core up. I don’t know how much of this link is a rehash - some is certainly new. All I know is the more a read, the more I like.…

EXACTLY what I was thinking after having had time to reflect on the WWDC stuff and the Aperture announcement



Robert … great read. Very inspiring.

My take on the apparent lack of “pro” features in the new Photo app. (Which is silly because right now even the engineers working on it likely don’t know what all it will include when first released):

The “pro” aspect of photography has always been based in the decision making, planning and practical application of knowledge that goes on in the gray matter behind the eye ball peering through the view finder as the camera shutter release is depressed.

“Professionalism” has absolutely nothing to do with the quantity of buttons, switches, dials and menu selections on our cameras … or the number of sliders or complexity in our software of choice.

Talent, experience and wisdom will always prevail regardless of the popular classification of the  tools employed in the completion of the task.


Thank you for the great post.   I’ve been waiting to hear from you.

My initial reaction was shock… but like you, my opinion has changed to mild optimism.    Building RAW processing into the core OS… opening it up to 3rd party developers… and building it all on an architecture based on sharing could be groundbreaking.

I am going to keep using Aperture until I can make an informed opinion about Photos.   I see no advantage to moving until I know more.


/Jim Pappas

Well, after going through the emotional roller coaster this announcement brought, and reading the insights and analysis reported here (e.g., Ars Technica report, WWDC Custom CI Filter technology demo, Joseph’s adjustment bar analysis, etc.), I sat down with my old friend, Aperture 3.5, and applied a few Nik Efex to some past vacation pictures. And you know what? Aperture felt glaringly dated. I then re-worked a few in DxO for its body/lens-specific correction profiles (DxO does wonders with the AF Nikkor 14mm f/2.8D). But, then I decided, “There’s got to be a better way.”

Kauai 2012

In light of the potential promise which Photos may bring, I think it is time to wipe the slate clean … re-boot. New code-base. New OS. New vision. New paradigm. Hopefully, if all goes well, by this time next year (or, at least by the following year), it may be Lr and Photoshop which may begin to seem dated. I think Apple’s ahead of the curve, and is really thinking strategically with this move (if all goes where we’re hoping it’s going). Remember, Apple has a huge advantage here to really change things up–they own the machine, the OS, and the app. No other entity can claim this (okay, Google can, but they don’t count … yet).

Yes, I may buy the now-discounted license to CaptureOne (mostly because I do shoot tethered at times), but I’m sticking mainly to Aperture for day-to-day stuff, and I’m very excited to see what the new Photos app, and the new OS will bring.

It's funny how you feel aperture 3 feels “dated”. I spend FAR more time in LR5, PS, Capture One 7, etc. ALL of them feel absurdly archaic to me compared to the Ap3 UI… are you measuring “dated” by lack of a particular feature like lens corrections? For god sake PS STILL has the freaking wrist-watch crap from OS9 if you look close when you put it under stress…

Just saying. Aperture feels COMPLETELY modern - the UI is so so refined and slick. Even the curves controls in all the others sort of look like and feel like an atari or VIC-20 comparatively speaking… 



I agree with Robert, Aperture’s UI is miles ahead of all others. The only “complaints” I have on that front are mere quibbles. Lightroom is a heartache everything I look at it. Capture One Pro is better than Lightroom, but no match for Aperture. After Shot Pro? Way too sloppy.

My only issues with Aperture are that it’s dead, its noise reduction is poor (compared to the competition) and it lacks lens correction (but is it using the Olympus and Fiji lens corrections included in their RAW formats?). If you shoot in good light with good lenses, those to features matter less.

It should come as no surprise that Apple’s UI is the best.

Bob Rockefeller
Midway, GA

I just downloaded the Capture One trial and generally like the way it works.  It’s very customizable.  Only problem I see with it so far is it’s incompatibility with plugins.  I’ve got quite a collection of NIK, Topaz, etc. plugins for Aperture (and Lightroom), but I’m avoiding Lightroom at all costs.  I can always use the other plugin software with the standalone versions I have, but it’s an extra export and outside-the-box editing process.  I’d have to reimport any changed images to the Capture One albums to keep them managed.  Maybe they’ll accept plugins one of these days.  I think I’ll give it the 60 day trial.

Scott Stuart

Well, maybe it feels dated because Apple didn’t spend any effort on Aperture in the past three years? They didn’t even fix minor handling bugs that would have gotten fixed if at least somebody at Apple were interested.

Also, Adobe can claim this as well. They own the complete processing chain (from RAW conversion, management with Lightroom, editing with Photoshop and publishing with InDesign, even distribution to their own cloud). Why would they need to own the OS for their purpose as well?

Adobe LR looks EXACTLY the same as it did in 2008?

Okay you win Adobe is the BOMB. Go for it. CC cloud away – if it makes you happy and you're satisfied no issue.

In any case use what you want and gets the job done. I own/use all this crap far more than most people. I cannot wait to ditch a bunch of it and it's all just transparent.

I think owning both the machine and the OS does give you a decided strategic advantage when developing apps which are so tightly integrated into the OS. It’s the one part of the playing field on which Adobe can’t compete. Aperture has played second-fiddle to the much larger user-base of Lr for years, and now it’s Apple’s turn to gain a competitive advantage. Garnering millions of iPhone customers as a built-in group of new, “Photos customers,” will help create new evangelists, promoting both the brand and the platform, and, hopefully, increasing overall market share for both. More market share gets us more third-party everything: plug-ins, books, support sites, etc. (not to mention, continued first-party development of Photos for “advanced users”).

To be clear, I think Aperture’s UI is cleaner and prettier than its competitors, and is the primary reason for my preference for it over the others. But, I do think the app is starting to show its age. Graphically speaking, I think Pixelmator looks “modern.” Wait until you see the finished versions of Photos/Yosemite … I expect some really nice design/UI touches in the coming months (“flatness,” “transparency,” etc.). Also, imagine not round-tripping out to a big-ole’ TIFF every time you need to do something special. If the claimed extensibility does support third-party plug-ins, directly into the RAW-processing stream, that trip will look entirely dated by next year. I think Apple is about to significantly change the mobile/desktop imaging landscape as we know it.

I agree re: the TIFF/PSD/Plug-In round tripping crap but NOBODY else does anything different… one of the reasons I am SO excited about the potential for



Yes, so am I. When I read Joseph’s earlier excerpts from the June 2014 WWDC session on Apple’s Custom CIFilter technology, this whole thing turned around for me. And, then, seeing Ars Technica’s statement from Apple really hooked me. This is a game-changer. You’re right, no one else currently offers an alternative to round-tripping. Apple will. From this perspective, ending Aperture makes sense. This could change everything. 

I’m really curious how they are really planning on implementing plugins! I do see a couple of serious technical problems in this area. Let’s suppose we have a custom plugin for that handles RAW conversion instead of relying on the core OS functionality:

  • How are you going to edit those images on your iPhone? You would need to have an iOS version of that plugin installed there as well. Even viewing would be tricky, unless your iCloud library contained a high resolution preview that will be used on mobile devices. Currently, there is no way to create plugins for iOS applications.
  • How do you handle the UI for that RAW decoding plugin? For example, some controls of the default RAW decoding workflow might not be required for the plugin but some new, non-default ones might be. You would need to have appropriate means to show UI for this RAW decoding plugin on iOS and on OS X.
  • Suppose there is a web version of to be included in Mobile Me (ah, sorry, called iCloud now). There are no announcements for this, but let’s just consider this for the sake of thinking about possible roadmaps. How would you do any editing of your shots on the web if displaying the image requires a custom RAW converter. Would there be a third kind of plugins for the web (same restrictions as for iOS apply here as well)?

If I were the product manager for, I would be asking my development team plenty of tough questions before heading down that road and finding myself backed into a corner. 

Also, this is another area of conflict for Pro users. How do you handle plugin updates? The novice user would just think “I didn’t even realize that my selfie looks different.” whereas the pro photographer thinks “Damn, that plugin was updated. I need to check my 1400 most important shots to figure out whether they still look great”. Given Apples’ way of addressing iOS application versioning, I don’t expect that there will be versioned plugins (as this would confuse the majority of novice users).

That does not mean, they can’t pull off useful plugins. It just means that this really is a complicated subject. There are plenty of nightmare development und ui problems to be solved in this area.

“If I were the product manager for, I would be asking my development team plenty of tough questions before heading down that road and finding myself backed into a corner. “

Apple released information about the new Photo app in the past month … they didn’t just start work on it in the past moth … I’m sure they have been and continue ask and address such concerns.

With the implementation of the new PhotoKit architecture for handing images across devices and offering advanced extensibility, I think the nightmare probability will be kept to a minimum.

I'm quite sure the development ppl have a plan…


I don't anticipate REPLACEMENT RAW processors just more integrated stuff that can influence/use the built-in RAW decode at a lower level. At least that's how I read everything that's available right now.


As for “no way to do that” on iOS – ummm yeah as of right this second but there are HUGE changes to iOS 8 many of them have to do with hooking into the photo ecosystem in new ways. I'm sure it's going to be an evolutionary process and we'll have to see when things happen and how far iOS takes us…


As I said in the article… I'm sure about a few things but like everyone else speculating on what will be in Yosemite/iOS8 and what will happen later or even the next major release.

There's boatloads of stuff that “you cannot do on iOS” now in iOS 8. AirDrop between OS X/iOS, browsable iCloud in finder, etc, etc, etc, etc. The code is pretty much the same base and the feature/function parity going both ways has been the direction for both for a LONG time… primarily restricted by battery life/feasibility/compute power etc… remember multi-tasking?


In any case I'm kind of stoked about this as a number of things I would have liked to have seen are reality in iOS 8 and I'm sure more is coming. The changes to the photo ecosystem on iOS 8 are HUGE and I believe the developers are going to be all over this. The nice thing is if the ecosystem/API/function set is at parity across both platforms this is a BIG deal for OS X too.



Robert, I don’t have access to the magic Apple development roadmap. So it’s all just speculation at the moment. I was just trying to point out difficult technical problems. Even if it just “influences the RAW decoding process on a lower level”, there needs to be something on iOS that knows about how that should be done.

It might be doable (see the rich plugin ecosystem for Chrome). But so far, iOS does not have those capabilities. 

By the way: parity is not a good thing for OS X at the moment. I’m not even sure if it will be in the future. Right now, parity means removing features from OS X applications (see iWork). Use cases for mobile application just are too different from those on a MacPro.

well, I donot fully understand the complains about „modern“ and „looks“ because that is changing all the time… Shouldn’t be functionality (vs. whatever features are possible/implemented) the main focus: for example Full view in Aperture works, is refined, gives even users with 15” screens as much solace as available… it adheres to human interface standards and is rooted in the way the OS(X) works.

I am glad for your post Robert, it diminishes the panic I felt because – basically – I use Aperture for everything except adding watermarks & boxers (BorderFX) and it is more than enough for this analog shooter. 


My 2 cents…

First, I still believe it is a very bad move that Apple made by discontinuing such a great product as Aperture.

I recently moved to Lightroom because of Apple’s desicion and one of my frustrations right from the beginning was backing up the Lightroom library. All the extra unwanted effort and time and money for a liscence of Carbon Copy Cloner (great backup tool though) that Apterure has out-of-the-box (when working managed). I also do notice that Ligthroom has some realy great features that where missing in Aperture.

As far as I can see, there is no way the edits in Aperture are going to survive the migration to Lightroom. So, here is my solution. Keep your discontinued Aperture library and start working with Lightroom for all your new photo’s. That seems to be the safest and easiest untill there will be a way to migrate Aperture edits to Lightroom.

IDEMI Photography |

There will NEVER be a way to move edits - except for the old stand-by of exporting 16-bit tiffs and importing them to another product like LR or whatever.



I wonder if Photos didn’t start out as “Aperture X” and once Apple saw how everyone freaked the f out when they redesigned (and made better) Final Cut Pro, calling it FCP X, they decidied to treat it a brand new app.

I am not going to sink a dime into anything new until I’ve used Photos. I’m more bummed that VSCO has seemingly dumped Apple apps, though support and development for Aperture was waning, for sure, long before this.

They will be all over as I mentioned regarding where they are targeting user base. Just my guess but I think VSCO will be one of the first out of the gate with the new iOS stuff and possibly Photos as well on OS X….



I bet you are indeed spot on.  I see little reason to be anything but excited, now that the initial dismay has passed.  To evolution!

Unless I am mistaken - one of the things demonstrated at WWDC was the use of VSCO stuff as a raw extension in their quick and dirty PhotoKit “app.”

you might be right…

to being out of the loop!

sigh..yeah…I just saw that. neato!

I’ve heard it said that Apple attempts to provide an 80% solution for 80% of its users. That certainly seems to be how things come out, whether Apple is trying to, or not.

The question is whether serious photographers are part of the 80% or part of the 20%.

It is a near certainty that photography fits easily into the 80%. But there are a lot of people taking casual photos with their iPhones. Apple may be gearing up to serve them and not the 20%.

Apple does what’s in Apple’s best interests, regardless how how we might think they should, or even will, prioitize.


Bob Rockefeller
Midway, GA

Well, I guess the elephant in the room is still Photos’ library structure (I was thinking about buying Robert’s ebook, “Aperture 3 Organization;” but perhaps I should wait until Robert writes “Photos Organization: The new iTunes manual”). I suppose it’s anyone’s guess how much it’ll change.

I'm hoping no book required it will be so simple an intuitive…



Whoah whoah whoah, slow down there buddy… I don’t want it to be *too* simple!! ;-)

— Have you signed up for the mailing list?

I'm kinda in a mood where I would love operation to be crazy simple so I can spend time learning Swift and coding some cool plug-ins vs. writing operational suggestions ;-)



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