Playing with Aperture

I haven't been posting very many pictures lately. There are several reasons for that. The main one is the majority of my photography time lately has been on Karin's clock project which doesn't generate interesting photos for the world at large. Additionally I've been spending a fair amount of time learning how Aperture (the software, not the camera term) works and what it can do. Then I upgraded from 1.5 to 2.0 and that process has been extended. In the meantime photos have been piling up.

Also, in my day to day life there really are two picture sources: the landscaping and the cats. The landscaping hasn't produced a lot of great photo opportunities lately because A ) it's still winter and most of the plants are pretty dormant and B ) it's been raining like crazy lately so the lighting hasn't been very vibrant. Cat photos are such an internet cliche and I'm really conscious of not posting very many cat photos. But today I did post a couple of takes of a Schrödinger picture. My justification for this is that I'm doing a before and after of my Aperture changes.

A couple of weeks ago I came into the kitchen and found that Schrödinger was up on the dining room table. She's not supposed to be up there of course, but it was also notable because she doesn't usually get up on high surfaces. I ran back to my office, grabbed the camera, and took a quick snap to email Karin. I particularly like her expression, as she clearly is giving me the "What?" defense. "I didn't know the table rule applied today!" So here's the original shot:

Schrödinger on the table - original

Then I did several color correction things in Aperture - White Balance, just used the auto-levels for levels. I ran the auto-exposure adjustment, but then further tweaked the "Recovery" and "Black Point" sliders to remove the clipping - her paws and chest are clipped to white and there are a few pixels on her back that were clipped black. I also cropped and I had originally cropped it very close. Today I learned about using the "Vignette" tool in Aperture, and I used it to darken the corners of the shot which meant I had to loosen the crop to avoid vignetting her shoulders and the right edge of her face. Here's my current version:

Schrödinger on the table - cropped, vignetted and color corrected

I really like Aperture as a tool. One very key bit is the nondestructive nature of the edits. Notice that I cropped this photo back on Feb 7, but when I learned about vignetting today (Feb 21), I was able to turn off the crop, play with the vignette, and make a new crop. Also I had auto-leveled and auto-exposured back in Aperture 1.5, but in 2.0 I was able to identify the flared-out white pixels and recovery them from the RAW image, restoring some fur detail that was lost otherwise. In a tool like iPhoto I could have gone back to the original image, but not just selectively gone back and turned adjustments on or off, or do something like recrop the image while preserving all the color channel changes.