Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Photoshop Takes A Backseat
As Apple Aperture and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom have advanced and evolved, these packages offer capabilities that give professionals the ability to streamline workflow with local editing power
|FIGURE 4: Aperture plug-ins are accessed through the Edit With command|
Soon, photographers were able to perform more basic image adjustments in Aperture or Lightroom than they ever could have done in the darkroom, all but one that is: dodging and burning.
Dodging and burning, or the ability to selectively lighten or darken certain areas of an image for dramatic effect or to better balance difficult exposures, was one of the most valuable features missing from these applications to really complete the photographic toolkit. This feature was added to Aperture version 2.1 and later Lightroom 2.0, and it was well worth the wait.
The new Dodge & Burn tools went way beyond what was previously possible in a darkroom. Not only could you locally lighten and darken specific regions of an image, but you also could affect saturation, contrast and sharpness using the same tools.
While achieving similar results, Apple and Adobe’s implementation of this type of local correction differ significantly and may provide an indication of how the companies intend to address other local editing functionality in the future.
|FIGURE 5: Rendering the TIFF file for editing in Aperture|
With Aperture 2.1, Apple introduced a new open plug-in architecture, allowing third-party developers to create new plug-ins or adapt their Photoshop plug-ins to work inside Aperture. The first plug-in, provided by Apple almost as a proof of concept, was its Dodge & Burn tool. With it, users could perform several types of local image enhancements on an image. Apple’s plug-in architecture supports both import/export modules, as well as image-enhancement plug-ins. To date, more than 70 plug-ins have been developed for Aperture.
The advantage of this approach is that it opens the door for other developers to easily enhance the Aperture feature set with their own technology, providing photographers with more tools from which to choose.
Unfortunately, the way it’s implemented doesn’t follow the same image-processing pipeline of other nondestructive tools within Aperture. When an image is loaded into a processing plug-in, a TIFF file is created from the original RAW image with current processing settings applied to it, just as if it were sent outside Aperture to Photoshop for further work.
While inside the plug-in, the user can modify the image and undo some of the changes made, but once they exit the plug-in, the changes are “baked” into the new TIFF file that’s stacked together with the original RAW file. It also takes longer to create the TIFF copy, load the plug-in and save it than just tweaking other global settings.
FIGURE 6: Aperture’s Dodge & Burn plug-in darkening the background
Another drawback is that you can’t batch process the same plug-in settings to multiple images. You can only run the plug-in on individual images. Some may not consider this to be an issue since these changes are often image specific, but there are instances where this could be helpful either when working with similar images or when applying a global filter like Noise Ninja or black-and-white conversion like Nik Software Silver Efex through a plug-in.
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