Hi John. A good (but slightly dated) list of resources for learning Aperture is here (1). The learning curve is, imho, while more uphill than flat (walking it requires good shoes and some endurance) at no point strenuous -- except at the very beginning, which requires a conceptual leap few have the leg strength to make on their first try. As with all software, you are much better advised to learn the features the software provides, and build with them a workflow that meets your needs, than to attempt to chisel from the solid monolith of the program the hero you would like it to be.
One of the nice things about the switch from iPhoto is that -- as long as your hardware and software allow it -- you can open the same Library in either program. This should allow you a good deal of time and freedom to learn how to set up and customize Aperture to your needs without bringing your work with your Library to a stand-still.
The Aperture UI is greatly customizable. It's use of screen real-estate is, imho, judicious. (I don't use iPhoto and can't compare them.)
Aperture is an image-manager and digital-negative workflow manager (especially suited for RAW files). It is _more than_ a file-manager. (I'm assuming that when you say "directory" you mean a Finder folder.) The Image-management possibilities with Aperture are much broader than the file-management possibilities of file-managers such as Finder. The Library is a database of Images. You can structure the presentation of the Images in the database myriad ways. Built into Aperture's "Projects View" is a grouping by year.
Aperture includes the ability to export subsets of the Library (as stand-alone Libraries). These Libraries can be opened on any machine that can run Aperture. You can then _merge_ the exported Library back into your "main" Library, and tell Aperture to accept all the changes you made. NB: you can't chose per Image; you must accept either all the changes in the being-imported Library, or reject all the changes in the being-imported Library (and accept only the new Images). This functionality was designed for just the use you envision: putting part of the Library on a portable computer, and later incorporating that part back into the originating Library.
Take a look at some of the linked material (especially the first seven chapters of the User Manual), and let us know what other questions you have. Good luck.
(1) The more recent version of my concise guide is now a User Tip.
Message was edited by: Kirby Krieger
Your comments are quite helpful. I am very excited (no, VERY VERY excited) about the ability to export a subset of the library, make changes, and then merge those changes back into my "main" library. This will be huge for me. For example I will want to be able to export a subset, put it on my wife's laptop so that she can rank and comment the photos, and then merge her changes back into the main library. This is really great.
My comments on directories were in regards to the ability to group iPhoto albums into submenus (hence folders in quotes). I should have described it as albums and submenus of albums.
Glad to help . Aperture is a fantastic -- and fantastically rewarding -- program.
You'll want to pay special attention to the section:
In Aperture you use Folders to group Albums and other Folders. You can nest Folders as deeply as you like.
In addition to Kirby's introduction to the fundamental features of Aperture, a few notes on the transit from iPhoto to Aperture.
I also have been a long time iPhoto user and really like the added freedom and flexibility that Aperture brings. But one thing was not so nice - there is no easy transition from iPhoto to Aperture 3.2.4 or earlier, if you want to import your iPhoto libraries as libraries and maintain a lossless workflow.
I'm currently running iPhoto 2009 on an OX 10.6 Mac Pro. I'd like to switch to Aperture on my Mac Pro, and given that I'm running 10.6 the latest version I can get looks like v3.2.
Your transit to Aperture would be much smoother, if you could take the plunge and upgrade to MacOS X 10.7.5 and migrate from iPhoto 9.3.x to Aperture 3.4 .
The big difference would be, that you could open any iPhoto Library in Aperture and vica versa and could profit from the representation of images and versions as pairs of original master files and virtual versions. In the iPhoto version you are now running, each edited image is stored twice or more. Each edited verssion will create an new copy of the image file in your iPhoto library. Aperture has always stored only the orginal master and a description of the list of adjustments to render the edited version from the original. You do not duplicate the amount of storage required, when you edit an image, like in the earlier versions of iPhoto? Have you ever been tempted to use iPhoto Diet? With Aperture you can forget such worries.
If you import your iPhoto '09 library to Aperture, there will be no help but to import each photo twice - the original and the edited version and it will be a waste of diskspace compared to the import in Aperture 3.4 and a lot of work to group these duplicates and to decide what to do about them - redo the edits in Aperture and discard the edited iPhoto version, or what?
So, if you can, do this from a Lion or Mt.Lion system, if you already have a large iPhoto Library.
Your wish list:
iPhoto 2011 inexplicably requires a WHOLE NEW COLUMN just to see comments, photo ranking, and other info for the selected photo which is a maddening waste of screen space.
In Aperture you have many ways to view the Metadata - hovering HUDs, tabs, overlays on the images; all is highly customizable.
Multiple home directories with a unified view: Right now, I have one giant 100Gb iPhoto directory with all of my photos in it. I'd like, instead, to have one directory per year, but have Aperture browse them all as if they were a single unit.
No way. If you want Aperture to browse your photo libraries as if they were a single unit, it has to be one library. But you have more advanced tools in Aperture to structure your Aperture library than in iPhoto, and Aperture supports huge, distributed Aperture libraries. It works well - my main Aperture library holds all photos I have ever taken plus some more. See Kirby's explanation above.
Portability of photo subsets: I'd then like the ability to copy just one of these directories to my laptop, and then be able work with that subdirectory in Aperture.
Kirby already explained that. It is easily done by exporting partial libraries and reimporting.
I bought the Aperture 3 training book by Dion Scoppettuolo recommended in the Aperture resource list. I'm finding it to be a perfect match for me in learning the program. There are so many wonderful features - I should have switched long ago! I'm reading the book cover to cover, and working through all of the examples. I'm in the middle of chapter 3 right now, learning about stacks. I didn't even know about this feature, but now that I know about it I must have it.