Monday, November 26, 2012

Essential Aperture Keyboard Shortcuts

If you really want to speed up your Aperture workflow, this is the essential list of keyboard shortcuts you need to know.

V (Cycle View Mode)
Cycle through the three main views of Aperture: Browser, Split View and Viewer

P (Quick Preview Mode)
Browse images faster, using a lower resolution, even if Aperture is still importing photos

Z (Zoom Viewer)
Zoom in and out of a photo

Y (Metadata Overlays)
Show/Hide Viewer Metadata Overlays (in case you want to use every pixel of your screen)

M (Show Master)
Show the Master (Original) photo

F (Full Screen Mode)
Use F to enter and exit Full Screen Mode

H (Inspector HUD)
Shows/Hides the Inspector HUD. Very useful in Full Screen Mode

1 to 5 (Star rating)
Apply 1 to 5 Star Rating. Press 9 to reject the photo. Rating every photo helps you to stay organized!

C (Crop)
Select the Crop Tool

G (Straighten)
Select the Straighten Tool

A (Selection Tool)
I use it to exit Crop or Straighten Tool

` (Loupe)
Shows the Loupe Tool, which is a magnifying glass that can be very useful to check noise and sharpness

Command + Shift + E (Export)
Export selected versions

These are the keyboard shortcuts I use the most, if you want a full list, please refer to the official documentation released by Apple.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Aperture: how to use GIMP as external editor [Tutorial]

I don't like very much the Black & White conversion tools available in Aperture 3. I tried Silver Efex Pro by Nik Software and it's great, imho it's the best B&W conversion tool, but it's very expensive for me (I'm not a PRO).

Since you can easily edit your images with an external editor and save them back in Aperture, I usually use the free and open source GIMP for editing my B&W photos.
By the way, we finally have a native version of GIMP for MAC OS X, no more Apple‘s X11 needed. You can download the version you need (Lion, Mountain Lion...) from this useful page: GIMP on OS X - Downloads, open the .dmg file and drag GIMP application icon to your Application folder.

In order to set GIMP as external editor open the Aperture "Prefereces..." panel and choose the "Export" tab.

Use the "Choose..." button to select GIMP.

GIMP can read the 16 bit TIFF files, but will convert them to the 8 bit internal format, so you can choose "TIFF (8-bit)" or "PSD (8-bit)" as file format. At least not until GIMP 3.0 arrives with full support for 16 bit depth editing.

Note: if you select TIFF file format you will get this annoying warning message "wrong data type 7 for "RichTIFFIPTC"; tag ignored" every time. I was not able to avoid it so I chose PSD file format.

Now that everything is set, choose an image from your Aperture Library (I miss Kenya and the Masai Mara NP, so I chose a Zebra image I shot there last year) and from the right-click (or control-click) menu choose "Edit With Gimp..."

The editing part will not be covered here, since I'm not an expert. So when you're done editing, or when you want to save back to Aperture, the trick is to press cmd - E (or "Export" from the "File" menu) and not cmd - S (or "Save" from the "File" menu). The first time you'll need to choose the TIFF file created by Aperture (the folder will be already selected, so no worries).

You can still use cmd - S to save, but this command will save an XCF file, that is the native image format of GIMP. You can do it if you need it later.

And this is the result of my editing (basically desaturation and increase of contrast using Curves tool) that I posted yesterday on Google+:

Useful Links

GIMP on OS X Goes Native
GIMP on OS X - Downloads

Monday, November 19, 2012

How to take a Screenshot in Mac OS X [Tutorial]

Even if you are a professional photographer, you don't have to use your camera to take a screenshot of your Mac!

Let's see the useful keyboard shortcuts that you can use on Mac OS X:
  • Command-Shift-3: Take a screenshot of the screen, and save it to the Desktop

  • Command-Shift-4, then select an area: Take a screenshot of an area, and save it to the Desktop

  • Command-Shift-4, then space, then click a window: Take a screenshot of a window, and save it to the Desktop
Using the Control key in addition (ie: Command-Control-Shift-3) the image will be saved to the clibpoard

While selecting an area (Command-Shift-4 or Command-Control-Shift-4) you can held down the following keys:
  • Space: to lock the size of the selected region and instead move it when the mouse moves

  • Shift: to resize only one edge of the selected region

  • Option: to resize the selected region with its center as the anchor point

Advanced configuration

If you don't want to save all your screenshots to the Desktop, you can change the default folder using the Terminal. I created a "ScreenShots" folder in my Home Directory. In order to use it you have to type the following line in the terminal (of course you can choose another name and change the command accordingly):

defaults write location ~/ScreenShots
killall SystemUIServer

You can omit the second line, but you will need to log out and in again for the change to take effect, because the SystemUIServer user process handles screenshoot commands and you have to restart it somehow :)

This screenshot was taken using Command-Shift-4, then space, then click on the Terminal window

Default image format is .png, but you can change it using this commands:

defaults write type image_format
killall SystemUIServer

Where image_format can be jpg, tiff, pdf, png, bmp, pict or others.