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Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Aperture 2.1 & The Plug-ins

I've been a big fan of Apple's Aperture software for around two years now. I started using it (and switched over to the Mac platform because of it) when the software was on version 1.5.
A lot has changed since then with version 2 and now 2.1. The program runs a lot faster and has made big advances in editing speed. Even on my tightest deadline I use Aperture without hesitation. Its elegance, speed, robustness, full control over RAW and jpeg editing and its digital asset management have me completely hooked.
One of the biggest things is that the program now has a plug-in structure which allows Aperture to use third party plug-ins. Apple provide their own plug-in for dodging and burning.
I've been using two of Nik Software's plug-ins; Viveza and Silver EfexPro. I've been using these for a couple of weeks now and I'm very impressed. They have now become part of my workflow.
Viveza's user interface.
Viveza is absolute genius. In Aperture you click edit with Viveza which creates a copy of your original (it keeps your original file as it was and is non destructive, exactly like Aperture) and opens it in its own window. In a nut shell, you click on control points and select the area of the image you need to change.
Viveza can show you a before and after of your image. The control points are shown by the little dots on the image.
The control point then gives you a set of sliders which choose circle size, brightness, contrast and saturation. By clicking on the colour you want to change, it only makes these changes to that particular hue and the surrounding area of the same value, within the circle diameter you choose. Very easy, fast and accurate. Its much faster and more elegant than exporting into Photoshop.
Silver Efex Pro is equally amazing and is by far the best monochrome converting software I've come across. You export to it in the same way as above. It has a series of pre-defined B/W styles on the left side and the control point system on the right hand side of the user interface. It also allows full control over brightness, contrast and structure. On top of this, it also has a set of commonly used B/W filters which you can click. It gets even better though as it lets you vignette and burn in the edges of your image (addressing each edge separately).

You can get trials on all the software and I definitely recommend giving these a go.

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