Some thoughts on the demise of Aperture

Apple announces that they will cease development of Aperture, and will introduce a new Photos app in 2015.

Like every other Aperture user out there, the news this week that Apple is killing off the product wasn’t exactly shocking.  It’s a stinker, yes - but hardly shocking.  They haven’t been developing it to keep up with their major competitor, Adobe Lightroom, and there has been a lot of speculation about this for a long time.

In some ways, it’s welcome news – mainly just so that all of us Aperture users finally have a clear idea about their plans.   Well, at least their plans with Aperture.  Or lack of plans, in this case.

So, here we are with the news.  I think everyone’s initial reaction was “dammit, now I have to switch”.  That thought was quickly followed with a glance at the calendar to try and figure out when a good time was to start the migration.  That was my reaction, for sure.  But now that I have sat with the news for a couple of days, I am trying to think rationally about this whole thing and decide what my next step is going to be – and when or if I am going to take it.

And no, I haven’t quite decided yet.  But I have come to some conclusions based on the limited information available to me at this point.  Here’s my current thinking.

1)   I’m not moving to Lightroom – yet

Ever since LR5 came out, I have heard incredible things about the product from all corners of the earth, or so it seems.  Apparently, it’s a good product.  Ok, I get that.  And guess what?  For about $135, I very well might just buy the damn thing and mess around with it.  How else am I going to figure out if I want to use it or not?  It’s a $135 test drive.  For something like this, it’s a worthwhile gamble.

If I like it, then I begin the laborious process of migration.  I have some 130,000+ images (and probably more – I am not looking at my library right now) across a LOT of Projects and Folders, so this is not something I take lightly.  But what I do know is that a HUGE amount of people use LR5, and while I don’t want to always follow the crowd, there is safety in numbers.  I can’t see Adobe killing that product.  And a sizeable customer base should guarantee funding and future development.  Should.  Plus, Adobe has a good track record with the product.

And for the record, I realize there are other alternatives to LR5, but if I decide to move on and skip the new Photos app, I can’t think of any good reasons to get something besides LR5.  Why get into another possible Aperture situation?

2)   I don’t have to do anything RIGHT NOW

That’s right.  I don’t have to do anything RIGHT NOW.  In fact, I have a huge window of time in which to make this decision.  That means my $135 test drive can last for months and months.  Why hurry?  It’s not like I will turn on my Mac someday and POOF, Aperture is gone.  It ain’t going anywhere, anytime soon.

At first I was literally thinking “Ok, how and when do I find the time to start migrating?”, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that this possible switch to LR5 does not need to be a flip of a light switch.  I cannot possibly move everything over to LR5 right now, but most importantly I DO NOT HAVE TO.

Just getting my head around the fact that THIS IS NOT AN EMERGENCY makes me feel better.  Any transition could take me weeks, or longer.  And guess what?  That is totally ok.  I don’t have to hurry.  I feel better already!

3)   It’s possible that the new Photos app will work for me

This is the biggest part of why I am not in a hurry.  While at this point the new Photos app from Apple is a huge, gaping unknown, it is clear that they are serious about helping people manage and edit their photos, at least to some degree.  That’s a good thing.

I am sure any Adobe fans reading this will assume I am part of the Apple Faithful and that I can’t let go, but it’s not that.  It’s this: I am curious.  (And I admit, probably a little lazy too – but hey, moving that many images is a LOT of work, and I have other things I would rather do, like edit some new photos!  Or, write some more articles like this for the blog).

Now everyone I know that uses Aperture is somewhere along the Prosumer/Professional spectrum, meaning we are not a bunch of casual users wanting to make some simple edits of photos taken of the family at the park (there’s nothing wrong with that, ok, but I am just illustrating the difference between a casual user and a serious user).

I am somewhere along that spectrum too, or at least I thought I was.  Here is what I just sort of realized in the last 24 hours:  as far as Aperture’s capabilities go, I am somewhat of a casual user.

What do I mean by that?

Here’s what I mean: most of my work is done outside of Aperture.  I use Aperture to manage my library (I love Folders and Projects - Aperture's organization is great), and I use primarily basic edits inside of Aperture.  I tend to use some of the brushes for sharpening and definition, some minor contrast and/or saturation adjustments, some skin smoothing and then I use a brush to remove dust spots and other minor distractions.  Oh, and I sometimes will crop and straighten.

That does not make me a power user.  Those are pretty basic things.  Those are also things that will very likely be included in the new Photos App.  Wouldn’t it make sense to include that stuff??

Everything else that I do in terms of my processing is done in some other software package.  I create my HDRs in Photomatix.  I use various filters and adjustments in Color Efex Pro or Topaz Adjust.  If I ever get around to learning them, I also have OnOne’s Perfect Effects and some stuff from MacPhun.  If I am building something that requires some type of compositing with text and photos, then I use Photoshop Elements.  And by the way, I can do all of that other stuff in Photoshop Elements anyways.

So what’s my plan?

Right now, nobody in the general public really knows what the new Photos app will be like, and what capabilities it will have.  We are all just guessing.  So…

I plan to sit here and think about it some more.  I plan to test drive LR5 – I think I owe it to myself to try it out.  I plan to see what the new Photos app looks like.  I plan to take my time, because this is not an emergency, at least for me.

When I figure out my plan and start to execute on it, I will let you know.  Thanks for listening, and feel free to let me know if you have any questions.

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Good reads on this subject:

My friend Mark Garbowski has a great article about this subject on his blog that he published earlier this week, and it’s worth a read.

I am a consistent reader of Aperture Expert, and there are a few posts there about this subject, as you can imagine.  The most interesting to me was this one, wherein he takes a closer look at the Apple WWDC preview of the Photos App, and makes a few guesses.  It’s good stuff.  Kind of exciting, even.

Thomas Fitzgerald has a great summary on his Aperture Blog as well, with some well thought out insights.      

Thanks for stopping by today!