Aperture is very good at organising images both quickly and with a great deal of flexiblity. It’s also good at displaying them in a way that helps you sort out your best pictures, and that’s not just with albums and stacks. I’m talking about Aperture Light Tables, a feature that’s often overlooked, possibly because people don’t know about it, and possibly because they’ve found it a little tricky.

So here’s a quick guide to light tables, how they work and what you can do with them. I’m using a project full of wintry black and white boatyard shots I took at a river estuary, and I’m hoping it can help me fix a problem I’ve got with this set of pictures – I like them all, but I know perfectly well that there are many which are similar to each other in subject matter, but dissimilar in contrast, exposure and overall treatment. I need to thin down my selection and get them into some kind of order.

01 Create a new light table

Aperture Light Tables

To create a light table, click the New button on the top toolbar and choose Light Table from the list…

02 How light tables are displayed

Aperture Light Tables

Light tables work in the same way as albums. You can create them within a project or outside. You can see my new light table in the source panel on the left, inside the ‘d230’ project where the pictures are stored. You add and remove pictures just as you would with a regular album. Note, though, that light tables have a different icon.

03 Adding images to your light table

Aperture Light Tables

If you select the light table and use the split browser/viewer layout, you’ll see that the viewer window looks different – it has a grid for a background. What you need to do now is go through the photos in the browser, choosing the ones you want and dragging them on to your light table. As you do this you’ll see the browser thumbnails for the images I’ve added now have a red ‘1’ sign (to show they’ve been added once).