Aperture can be used to create localised adjustments, but at first glance it doesn’t seem terribly effective. You can ‘brush in’ adjustments via a pop-up menu, but they aren’t particularly powerful and they do quickly get complicated as you to try to juggle additional tools in the adjustments panel on the left.

But there is a simpler approach that can produce much more powerful results, and you can use this to ‘dodge and burn’ your images to make them much more effective. This used to be a standard technique in black and white, but it works just as well in colour.

Aperture Curves

To demonstrate this, here’s a super-wideangle architectural shot taken in Bath, UK. The composition is OK, but the sky is too bright, the buildings are too dark, and it’s all a bit flat.

01 Adjustment brushes

Aperture Curves

You can find Aperture’s standard adjustment brushes on a pop-up menu at the bottom of the Aperture window. Click this to see a selection of options designed to ‘Burn’, ‘Dodge’ or otherwise enhance specific areas of the image.

02 Brush Curves In

Aperture Curves

But I think there’s a better way, and it starts with a Curves adjustment in the panel on the left. Start by adjusting the curve to give the effect you want in the relevant part of the picture. I want the sky to be much darker and more intense, so I drag the lower part of the curve downwards to create this effect.

This makes the rest of the image darker too, of course, so the next step is to open the ‘gear’ icon in the Curves panel and choose ‘Brush Curves in’. This means that the curves adjustment won’t appear until you start ‘brushing’ it on to the picture.