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Author Topic: Organizing in Aperture  (Read 16192 times)

Bob Rockefeller

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Organizing in Aperture
« on: June 26, 2010, 08:08:58 am »

Looking for examples of how to organize images, photo books, albums and the like in Aperture? Here's a way that I do it:…ure-an-example/

What are your approaches?
« Last Edit: January 07, 2011, 08:35:18 am by Bob Rockefeller »
Bob Rockefeller
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Organizing in Aperture
« Reply #1 on: June 27, 2010, 01:12:49 pm »

Quote from: Bob Rockefeller
Looking for examples of how to organize images, photo books, albums and the like in Aperture? Here's a way that I do it:

What are your approaches?


I currently have about 18,000+ images in my library that are mostly Raw images.
Now my libraries are stored on external (portable) LaCie hard drive (320 GB) firewire 800 and the Iomega (portable) eGo FireWire 800.
I am running on a MacBook Pro 15" in 64 Bit mode 2.66 8GB DDR3 (June 2009) LED Cinema Display (24" flat panel) Mac OS X (10.6.4).

When uploading images from the compact flashcard I use a SanDisk Extreme FireWire CompactFlash Card Reader 800/400. I piggy pack this using the Firewire 400 port on the LaCie or eGo depending on which drive I am using. Up loading images is very fast.
Also have another external hard drive I use via USB for backing up images during up loading of images to the Aperture Libraries.
Have folders setup as years 2010, 2009, 2008 and so on with projects under each folder by yymmdd_subject.
I have a preset (Version Name) for importing setup: yymmdd_customname_counter. All I have to do is enter the custom name text before importing.

Should also mention I am still using Lightroom 3.0, but am leaning toward Aperture 3.03.
Did not really care for Aperture 2, but have found 3.03 to be a hugh improvement.
I like the new brush features with Aperture 3. It helps to do less round tripping to Photoshop.
Being able to paint on any adjustment on top of another is a cool feature.
Also a plus you can have more then one curve (bricks) with an image.
Also like the fact I can do some editing to videos via Aperture 3.03 since I have a Canon 7D and looking to add the Canon 5D MII.
The fact that you are able to include videos with slide show is also a plus.
I use managed files, but do not use reference files as I use the Vault for backing up. The Vault will not backup reference files.
Currently I use two different external hard drives for the vault. The Vault is another selling point for me. Makes backing up very easy.
The other day I used the restore feature with Vault to move a Library to a new Iomega (portable 500GB hard drive) eGo FireWire 800.
The restore process when very smoothly.
« Last Edit: June 27, 2010, 01:21:42 pm by StuartOnline »


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Organizing in Aperture
« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2010, 02:14:19 pm »


  I have about 500,000 images shot originally as JPEG (high production volume originally plus expensive storage meant it was the most sensible option for a while) plus about 250,000 shot as RAW with Canon 5D, 5DII, 7D, Panasonic GF1 and Hasselblad H3D31-II. The majority of new shoots are done on the Hasselblad.

  I've already had to migrate this collection across several different storage solutions, and also made the transition from PC to Mac for all my work in the last couple of years. Here's my current workflow, a lot of valuable suggestions for which came from the DAM book by Peter Krogh.

I shoot sets of photos. Each set tells a specific story, is pretty much self-contained and contains 50-150 images on average. I now treat a photoset as the basic unit of organisation for my work, having learned that alternatives like filing by model or by date are not as useful, since sets can get processed a long way out of chronological order.

One directory per photoset, prefixed with a code which tells me the originator of the set (as I buy unprocessed photosets from some other photographers), then a unique sequential set number within that originator, plus the model's name and a descriptive suffix. For example:

VID0001_KatyCee_NewsgirlInNorway (for videos- one directory per video storyline)

I first of all copy photos off the cards via FireWire800 reader, either with the Finder (for Canon/Panasonic shots) or using Phocus to make FFF files (for the Hasselblad). I put these into a temporary area called "Virgin Imports" so I can look at them, but as soon as possible at the end of the shoot I organise them into the photoset directory. From then on, all the contents of that directory will travel together so all the
I do this file organisation immediately after import.

At the earliest opportunity, I will keyword the photos as well. I use Phocus for the Hasselblad files.

All photoset directories then get copied to a working directory on my main RAID, from whence they are backed up to a 16 TB DroboPro, which is in turn backed up to a rotating offsite backup of two more disk sets for a second DroboPro. The working disk is also backed up to an 8 TB Drobo via TimeMachine, so stuff I'm actively working on or which has yet to be processed gets hourly backups.

At this point, I import into Aperture.

I have one massive library with the old JPEG-based shoots. At over half a million shots, this is actually rather unwieldy, but it is done now.

I have a second library containing more recent processed sets.

Then I have my third, working library. I keep all the more recent stuff in here, periodically exporting it and re-importing to the second (processed) library. I just have a "Processed" folder in the working library which I drag projects to when they are done, and periodically export that then clear it out. When I do this I mirror it on the physical work drive, copying everything to its final resting place on the main 16 TB DroboPro as a processed photoset.

I make one project for each photoset, named according to its unique directory name above. I do everything by referenced masters, because I've already had to go through several different cataloguing and image processing programs and I want to keep the primary physical organisation intact, since I've learn by bitter experience what the best way to manage these files is.

This does lead to a profusion of projects, but keeping the working aperture libabry cleared out of processed photosets every few months keeps it managable.

When it comes time to process a photoset, I'll do it in Aperture most of the time. The exception is if the colours are tricky or I need DAC for the Hasselblad files- in that case I'll make ProphotoRGB 16 bit TIFFs in Phocus and import them into Aperture alongside the FFF files, and use autostack to group them together. I'd love to be able to keep these intermediate TIFFs, but the data volume is impossible right now (180 MB per file, several thousand shots per month = impossible). Anyway, for their brief existence, they live in the TIFFS directory inside the photoset's own directory.

With this structure of lots of small projects, one per photoset, I do not need any further subdivision within Aperture. I mark all acceptable shots as one star, two stars for an exceptional shot, but never mark anything higher than that in the working library: any decision as to which shots get elevated to higher star status is only done much later, at my leisure. I do have to denote a "main" and four "preview" images for each photoset, which I do in the "intructions" IPTC panel because that's what my website software is set up to read and it deals with that automatically.

When I am done, I export the versions to full-sized JPEG in the "full" subdirectory of the photoset's directory, and production sized JPEG in the "processed" subdirectory. Then I export the project as a new library to that directory as well, to ensure that all the metadata and processing decisions are stored along with the images. Ideally I'd prefer to export per-file XMP sidecar files, automatically, the way that Lightroom does it, but at least this way the data is still around and I don't have to fiddle around exporting masters, then deleting all the duplicates in order to just get hold of the XMP files. Annoyingly, Phocus uses a DIFFERENT format XMP sidecar file. Teeth grind.

I then upload sets to my website, and most of the importing chores are now done automatically by the website scripts reading the metadata.

When sets are done, they get moved from the working directory on my working RAID to the processed directory, and backed up from there to my main DroboPro (and thence to the offsite backups). This means that I keep a pristine copy of the photoset AND the processed copy; this may be unnecessary and I'll revisit once the DroboPro fills up.

Phew. Sorry, you did ask. Read the DAM book for why a lot of this is a good idea!

  Cheers, Hywel.


Steven Draper

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Organizing in Aperture
« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2010, 10:59:34 pm »

Aperture is almost so flexible that one can rapidly get into constructing complex and very controlled organizational systems that are totally not required in many cases.

While good ideas can be found by looking at other folks systems, I'd recommend just playing with a few images and letting a system grow organically using the tools you're comfortable with in ways that suits you best, not someone else. Yes there may eventually be some or even lots of folders, projects, images etc that need bringing up to date to your latest system, but If you plan a system in to much detail up front before understanding the pawer Aperture, and also Lightroom to some degree, then you may end up not using several of the really useful features and tools.

As humans many of us still tend to think of our image files as "slides" or "Negs" and then put them away in neat and tidy fashion. Hence the traditional Filling system of boxes and or transparent folders filled with slides or negs housed in neatly labeled binders. A pride is held in being able to search ones system for the best fitting image within minutes!

The problem with this, as was discussed in paper magazines years ago, is what to do with slides or negs that actually fit several folders...... Yes I actually created virtual slides on pieces of paper to drop into other boxes!

In todays reality our digital files travel to various parts of our hard drives. If we opened up the disk we would not be able to point to part of it and say that is where my best sunset is, and there are the holiday pictures, and even if we could there would not be much point. Yet we DO worry about where they are, and in an effort to reduce future search time tend to spend many hours replicating our previous liner search systems.

The reality is that the data today is spacial and where its filled is pretty much irrelevant (except for hard back up copies) A file can essentially be ready and waiting everywhere it wants too providing you've told it some idea of how it might be searched for.

Therefore what is far more important  than building a beautiful folder tree, is learning how to tag images such that you can find the ones that you want too in the future - even when you've forgotten about some of them!

IMHO, Aperture is far more sophisticated than lightroom in this respect and because image collections have different search requirements, is highly customizable. I've built a search system like "Airliners.Net" to manage my aviation collection, and I monitor the distribution and sales of my prints with another. With one or two clicks I can see where all my prints are, what has been exhibited where, what has sold and to whom. Its effectively my print management log.

I could fire up a slide show of all print sales in 2009 within moments --- refine to only the framed ones --- refine further to particular mat colours

If you want to see how Apple thinks files should be managed, let Aperture manage some images for you and then go into Aperture file system, its very interesting. Those that had version 1.0 will remember that Managed was the only option until 1.5 -  But for many users we don't need to worry about the file structure at all, referenced or managed.  

As for how to set up folders, projects, albums etc - just have some fiddle time and you'll soon be building your own set up that meets your needs, but ultimately other than actually keeping the number of clicks down, smart albums and search is the most powerful tool.
image examples are at my website  [url=h


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Re: Organizing in Aperture
« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2010, 01:38:39 pm »

I shoot aerials.
Each day of shooting gets a new project with date name, I often shoot for a number of clients per day, so each client gets a folder for the job or jobs in that project.

I also have a project per client, this is for the library searches I do for that client.
I have smart folders for each area I shoot which I name each image by it's post/zip code, so once named in the project it files itself in the smart album.
It's the smart albums I find terrific, if I get a request for something at a certain address, I go the smart album, I can filter even more possibly by street name or date to get the selection. I put the selection in a new folder, then that folder in the clients project, low res with watermark are sent from the folder. If an order for a high res comes I back, it's all there in the clients project in the folder cropped, adjusted etc ready to send out.
It's all so easy with Aperture.



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Re: Organizing in Aperture
« Reply #5 on: November 10, 2010, 07:09:14 pm »

What are your approaches?

I’ll be describing my (and other possible) approaches here:

And while its going to be Lightroom centric, it could just as easily be done in Aperture.
Author "Color Management for Photographers".


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Re: Organizing in Aperture
« Reply #6 on: November 20, 2010, 07:17:00 pm »

Today I posted an overview of how I organize Aperture to handle my storage and output needs.  It will certainly help anyone attempting to set up their own structure.  Here is the link:
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