It takes me hours and hours and hours of manual work to do even simple post-processing changes on thousands of RAW photos taken on each vacation trip I take. I generally like to adjust the sharpness and exposure and sometimes also white balance, levels, and saturation/vibrancy.

What techniques do you use in Aperture 3 to speed this batch processing along? Ranking down less than interesting shots and skipping them? Lift and stamp metadata on similar shots? What else?



I do a first quick pass looking for anything decent, even stuff that looks bad but can be possibly saved - I rate this all as one star.

Then I work through those, quickly flipping through them and editing anything that interests me. Those I rate as two.

After that I review all of the two stars and see if there's anything that really stands out, that is worthy of more attention - those I rate as three or higher depending on what I got.

I do sometimes lift and stamp changes, mostly around white balance and metadata (don't forget to add yourself as the creator and a copyright notice to all images if you didn't do it at import!). Sharpening I tend to like to only add to specific areas, if at all.

I have also had Viveza 2 and the other Nik products for a while but only recently started using that more. A separate tip for that is that I like to use Viveza 2 first to alter tones in an image (spotlight certain things, fill or darken areas as needed). Then I duplicate that version and use ColorEFX and/or Nik Sharpening (SharpenPro) against the duplicate version, so I have three masters when I'm all done - but since you can't undo ColorEFX and SharpenPro, I like to have the "clean" Viveza image there to re-work from as a base (and that will also work out well if you need to upsample for larger prints and thus have to re-sharpen). I also like to append to the second and third created master version names with the tool that helped to edit them (-VZ for Viveza, -CFX for ColorFX) but that might be placed better elsewhere since export to Flickr will change your version names.


I'm adding one more thing. Go back into your photos a week or so later, and do one pass through. Especially if you have a lot of photos you can start to get more and more critical, or perhaps single-minded... in any case it always seems like looking back through images later one, I find at least one that I really love that makes me wonder why I left it down in the low-rating dungeon.


+1 on the other two answers here. You want to make your strong images stronger instead of making weak images good.

My workflow is a little different. I import files, then swipe through them and reject anything that's unsalvageable. The Control-9 shortcut is great for this — it rejects the image and moves you forward to the next. Anything I see that looks great, I rate five stars, anything that’s okay but not fantastic is four stars, mediocre is three stars and so on. I rarely keep one or two star shots (I just reject those), but there are a few cases where there was a poor shot of a great moment that I’ll hang on to.

After that, I run through the five star images and do whatever work they need. Then the four star shots. After that, I might stamp adjustments onto three-star shots taken around the same time. You can stamp metadata onto multiple images at once, so this is a great way to get those mediocre shots looking better without spending a lot of time on them. Make sure you remove any crop or brushed adjustments, since these almost never work right when stamped.

Adjustment Presets can save you a bunch of time. If you find that you adjust the sharpness on nearly everything you import, make a preset and use it when you import, so you don’t have to apply it by hand. They’re a rather blunt tool when applied to a large group of images like this, so don’t go too crazy.

There are also a ton of keyboard shortcuts that help when you’re picking your images. Open up the control bar (View -> Show Control Bar, or press d) and hover over the buttons — you’ll find a world of shortcuts to help you rate and navigate your images.


Take Out The Trash

Excellent question. I know what you're talking about - I have the same problem after every holiday (or even after a day out)!

The most important (and sanity-saving) step in my workflow is a first pass through my pics to identify the outright loosers (out of focus, photo of my feet, flash didn't go off, etc...). I will not admit in a public forum what proportion of my work goes this way!

My second and subsequent passes are to identify the absolute best images. For me, this might be a couple of percent of the overall volume.

I don't do any more processing except on these pics.

I don't usually sharpen photos unless I am about to create JPEGs (i.e. I'm going to print them or put them on the web), so this only applies to a handful of images. I use the default export sharpening.

To Summarize

Don't work on every image, work on the smallest possible subset - the few you want to share.

The other tip is to work on getting it right in the camera. This is a journey we're all on! Hopefully as we improve, we'll need less post-processing - especially exposure and color-balance. Hopefully (he says wistfully!).

(For the record: I use Lightroom, but I don't think that matters here since this isn't a technical answer).

Hope this helps.

  • Happy to help ;)
    – AJ Finch
    Jan 17 '11 at 9:54
  • @Jay, "colour" is the English spelling - if you don't "correct" mine, I won't correct yours! ;) Well done spotting the typo, though :) PS. Contrags on recently passing me in rep :)
    – AJ Finch
    Jan 17 '11 at 9:57

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