Life after Photoshop features dozens of tutorials for Apple’s professional image cataloguing program, but for any Mac owners who want more information before taking the plunge, here’s a full Aperture review which explains what it does and puts the tools in context.

What is Aperture?

Aperture iconAperture is a professional image cataloguing and editing tool from Apple which runs only on Macs. It’s like a professional version of the iPhoto app most users get free. For most photographers, an image cataloguing tool is an essential app that’s right at the heart of their workflow, and if you use a Mac the two chief rivals are Aperture and Lightroom.

 Where do you get it?

Aperture in Apple App Store

Aperture is now available only from the Apple App Store. The UK price is £55, and in the US it costs $80. This makes it considerably cheaper than Lightroom, but it also means it’s not possible to download a trial version.

What does it do?

Aperture can import all your pictures into a single, centralised image library where you can carry out searches, organise pictures into projects and albums, carry out basic image-enhancements and share pictures with others via Facebook, Flicker or other social networking sites. It’s like a digital hub for the whole of your digital photography.

Where does it fit in?

Aperture is an image cataloguing tool with integrated RAW conversion and basic image enhancement tools. It also works with external editing programs like Photoshop, which can carry out more complex tasks that Aperture can’t, and with plug-ins for creating specialised image effects.

How does Aperture work?

Aperture library fileThe Aperture library is a database of all your pictures. It works with its own renditions, or ‘versions’, of your photos, leaving the original images unaltered. The image enhancements you apply in Aperture are ‘non-destructive’, which means that they can be modified or removed at any time in the future. They’re stored as processing instructions within the Aperture library rather than being applied directly to your photos. When you move pictures between projects or albums, you’re moving the image versions in the library rather than the files themselves, but Aperture always keeps the link between these versions and the originals.