Today I’m going to write about a feature of Aperture that you’ve probably heard of but maybe never tried. We all establish our own personal workflow style pretty early on when using new software, and I’m no different. I’ve been using Aperture since the day version 1.0 was released and I have only very recently begun playing around with the Light Table feature. Based on that confession it is obvious that I am not final authority on the light table feature, but I thought I’d just bring it to your attention in case you never looked into it before.
First off, lets create a light table and get some images into it…
Click on your Library, project or album and control-click (or right-click) and select New… Light Table. Give your new light table a name, in my case I used “Air Force One”, and then open the project or album that contains the photos you want to put in the light table and drag them on to the light table name you just created. Alternatively you can select a bunch of images and control-click and select “New From Selection”, Light Table. Note: that you can drag images from several different albums and/or projects into the light table … you are not moving or copying images, you are simply creating a pointer to the image so the light table knows what you want to be displayed.
Now that the images you want are in the light table, click on the light table and you will be presented with a big old blank screen. You might say “what happened to my images?” Well, when you created the light table you might compare that to when you put a bunch of photos into a shoebox back in the old days. All your images are now in the shoebox and now you can pull out as many or as few as you want and drag them all over the table and arrange them any way you want. In the photo that I have included in this post you can see the thumbnail views of the images in my light table (the shoebox) on the left, and on the right you can see where I have actually grabbed a bunch of them and “scattered” them across the “table”.
OK, so now you have a light table and some images scattered across the table (screen). Start playing with the images, resize them (grab a corner and stretch), move them, overlap them, compare one to another … do whatever you want, remember this is non-destructive editing.
In the image I posted with this entry you’ll see that the Adjustments HUD is up, normally this is on my second monitor but I moved it over to show you that it can be used while you are in a light table.
While you play around with the light table you will notice that there are some things you cannot do while in this mode … like for instance, the Zoom command (z) does not do anything, the Crop command (c) just makes an annoying error sound come out of your speakers. But some other things like editing metadata does work.
I’m not sure if the light table will ever become a big part of my workflow or not, but it’s worth looking at and it’s a handy tool for comparing, selecting and rating images as well as performing keywording and other similar operations.
Check it out, it’s just one more feature of Aperture that might assist you in your digital workflow.
FYI: If anyone cares, the photos you see in my example image are pictures that I took tonight of Air Force One at Palm Springs Int’l Airport waiting to transport President Ford back to Washington tomorrow morning. President Ford has been a longtime resident of the desert and will be missed.
Until next time,
Allen Rockwell Photography