Aperture ▪ July 20

History will remember the early 21st Century as a turning point for photography — the point at which mainstream photos transitioned from chemical to digital, thereby becoming “print optional” for the first time. Although digital photography has taken small annual steps for 20 years, those steps have collectively evolved early, uselessly low-resolution digital cameras into superior alternatives to their film-based predecessors. Even the tiny cameras built into iPhones take much better-quality photos than Kodaks and Polaroids, and more of them, too: the days of 12-, 24-, or 36-exposure film cartridges and fading exposures are long gone, replaced by all but infinite burst-mode photos that can live on your computer forever.

But some photos deserve a more prominent display in your home than a vault in your computer’s photo library. Apple has known this since the dawn of digital photography. Since iPhoto launched in 2002, Apple has offered photo and book printing services, a feature later added to Aperture and OS X Photos. Yet even though CanonSony, and Nikon have introduced high- and ultra-high-resolution cameras capable of creating huge prints, Apple hasn’t updated its apps with new large-format print options. That’s where this How-To series comes in.

It’s possible to use Photos to create large paper prints, but there’s a lot of exciting large-format photo printing work being done now with other materials, including metal, glass, and canvas. Part 1 of this How-To guide looked at large-format metal prints, and Part 2 looked at canvas and glass prints, with tips on composing large-format images. This third and final part looks at several additional options: turning your photos into hand-painted art, printing on brushed silver aluminum, and large-format “behind acrylic glass” photo printing. Each is different from the prior prints we covered, and one is the most beautiful large photo-to-wall art process I’ve yet seen…

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Aperture ▪ July 4

Apple knew it had something special to share with the world when it released iPhoto in 2002: in addition to printing 20″ by 30″ poster-sized photos, the original iPhoto’s “most stunning feature” (according to Apple) was a page layout tool that quickly turned digital photo collections into printed hardcover books. These were Apple’s acknowledgements that tangible photos still had value in a digital era, and it subsequently added calendars, greeting cards, softcover books, and letterpress cards to iPhoto. Apple’s newer app Photos for Mac hides these options under the File menu at the top of the screen, and hasn’t expanded on them, a shame considering how nice the results look.

But apart from including the poster options in 2002, Apple never added “large-format art” to the list of things its photo apps could produce. Back in 2002, digital cameras were so low-resolution that they struggled to produce pixel-free 4″ by 6″ photos, so it’s no surprise that Apple wasn’t trying to build a market for large prints. Thankfully, a lot has changed since then. Canon currently sells two 50-Megapixel cameras, Sony has one 42-Megapixel camera, and Nikon offers four 36-Megapixel cameras. iPhones and iPads can create up to 43-Megapixel ultra-wide panoramas. A large, properly-composed print from any of these cameras (or even the more common 20- to 25-Megapixel cameras people are using today) will look amazing hanging on the wall of your home or office… if you know how to do it.

I wanted to see what the best options were for large-format photography, so I reached out to a collection of excellent art print services to see how digital photos would look on metal, glass, and canvas — materials Photos doesn’t offer. In Part 1 of this How-To guide, I’m looking at large-format metal prints that apply dyes and gloss directly onto aluminum surfaces, with results as saturated as Apple’s famous “nanochromatic” iPod nanos. A new Part 2 looks at large-format canvas and glass prints. Read on for all the details…

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Aperture ▪ May 9

Until this year, Mac owners had three major options for organizing large digital photo collections: Apple’s mainstream iPhoto, Apple’s “pro” app Aperture, and Adobe’s similarly professional-grade Lightroom. When Apple discontinued iPhoto and Aperture in favor of an even more basic app called Photos, many people —amateur photographers and professionals alike — had to decide whether to downgrade to Photos or switch to Lightroom. Apple understood that it was ceding at least the professional market to Lightroom, and even helped Adobe to develop Aperture and iPhoto to Lightroom importers. With the writing on the wall, some people switched to Lightroom 5 well before Photos officially debuted last month.

I didn’t; since Lightroom 5 was almost three years old, I wanted to see what Adobe would deliver in its much-anticipated sequel. On April 21, Adobe released Lightroom 6 and Lightroom CC (2015) as standalone and cloud-linked versions of the same app. Both promise major speed improvements over Lightroom 5, new tools and brushes, a new facial recognition feature, automatic HDR and panoramic photo creation, and new slideshow options. As part of Adobe’s “Creative Cloud,” Lightroom CC comes bundled with Adobe’s latest version of Photoshop, plus cloud photo synchronization services, for $9.99 per month. Alternately, Lightroom 6 can be purchased by itself for $149 as a standalone download, minus Photoshop and cloud functionality.

Below, I’m going to focus on the key questions Aperture users have been asking: what it’s like to transition from Aperture to Lightroom — including new details added after initial publication of this article — plus which version of Lightroom to buy, and whether transitioning is a good (and safe) idea. The answers may surprise you…

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Aperture ▪ May 7

I’ve focused a lot over the last few months on helping readers to speed up and optimize Apple’s Macs — everything from adding RAM to recovering hard drive space and upgrading old hard drives to faster SSDs. Today’s How-To is focused on something very specific but with a lot of optimization potential: trimming down your Mac’s photo library.

Particularly after installing OS X 10.10.3 with Apple’s new Photos app, you might be surprised to learn that you’ve lost a lot of hard drive space, and that there are suddenly tons of duplicate photos on your Mac. After installing OS X 10.10.3, the new Photos app converted my 90GB Aperture library into a 126GB Photos library, and left both on my hard drive. That’s an incredible amount of wasted space attributable to duplicates, so it’s no surprise that a $1 utility called Duplicate Photos Fixer Pro has recently become the #1 paid Mac App Store app, while a superior alternative called PhotoSweeper ($10) is in the top 50. I’ve used both apps, as well as many others, and can help you choose the one that’s best for your needs…

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Aperture ▪ April 21

Following months of rumors, Adobe is today announcing Photoshop Lightroom 6 and Lightroom CC, the latest versions of its popular photo editing and organization software. Sharing the same code, design, and much of the same functionality, the two Lightroom releases are separated into purchasable (Lightroom 6) or subscription (Lightroom CC) versions, only the latter of which can sync with Adobe’s mobile applications. Apple notably recommended Lightroom as a replacement for its recently-discontinued Aperture professional photo application, and worked with Adobe to build an Aperture library importing tool to aid users during the transition.

Lightroom manages large photo libraries, while offering photographers powerful tools for RAW and JPEG image adjustment. Now solely a 64-bit application, Lightroom 6/CC promises huge speed improvements when applying prior effects to images, as well as newly added tools and brushes. As shown in the embedded video, facial recognition has been added, enabling functionality similar to Apple’s Faces feature from Aperture and iPhoto. A new HDR (high dynamic range) tool uses two images to create a composite photo with more vivid colors and detail, while brushes such as radial and graduated filters have been added. The app has also gained new slideshow options, automatic panorama stitching, video slide shows, and many other features.

Photoshop Lightroom CC can be downloaded now as part of Adobe’s Creative Cloud Photography subscription service for $9.99 per month; a prepaid year of CC Photography access is normally $119.88, and currently on sale at B&H Photo Video for $99.88. Photoshop Lightroom 6 can be ordered for $149 as a standalone download. Adobe has also released version 1.4 updates to its mobile apps Lightroom for iPad and Lightroom for iPhone with support for Lightroom CC, improved cropping, and TIFF file support. Both iOS apps are now available for free from the App Store, but require Creative Cloud subscriptions.

Aperture ▪ April 10

Photos MacApple’s latest app Photos is now available for free as part of OS X 10.10.3 for Mac. The new app is the future of photo management from Apple with support for iCloud Photo Library, burst photos, slow-mo and time lapse videos, and more. Here’s how to migrate your photo library to the new Photos app from iPhoto or Aperture, both of which will no longer receive support for software updates going forward:

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