One of Aperture’s features is its ability to integrate with external editors, like Photoshop. But given the image adjustments that we can make within Aperture, one has to wonder why we really even need Photoshop. After all, between buying expensive cameras, lenses, and computers, it’d be great to not have to spend even more money to buy a very expensive program. Heck, I was just out on a photo trip for the past 10 days and only launched Photoshop once. I did all of my exposure, color, levels, etc. work in Aperture and didn’t need Photoshop.
Well, why did I launch Photoshop, you might ask? I had a task that Aperture can’t do at all–combining images. I’d taken a few sets of images over the week that I intended to combine, panoramas as well as montages (multiple exposures, something Canon digital cameras sadly can’t do in-camera although some Nikon cameras can). For the panoramas, CS3’s improved automerge tool is really amazing, and just by exporting my images, selecting them in Photoshop, and waiting for a few minutes, I had a great-looking panorama. Creating the montage images was almost as simple, except I needed to manually drag each image into one master image and adjust each layer’s opacity. But if I hadn’t shot any sequences like this, I probably wouldn’t have opened up Photoshop at all during the week.
However, I might be deceiving you a bit at this point–as much as Aperture gives me while actively shooting and doing coarse adjustments/editing, I am sure that I’ll take a number of these images into Photoshop before calling them done. For instance, I have a very nice image of a honeybee in flight, but I want to adjust the lighting (think dodging and burning) to help emphasize the honeybee. This complicated processing involves layer masks, adjustment layers, and various other tasks that again, I can’t do in Aperture. I probably also have a number of images that I’ll want to run through a noise-reducing tool before printing or trying to sell, just to make them look even better.
Speaking of making things look better, my sensor would look a lot better if I managed to clean it completely. About 200 images have this glob of dust on them that look like Pac-Man throwing up. Although I can get rid of most small specks of dust with Aperture’s spot patch tool, I always need to use Photoshop’s clone and heal tools, which just let me paint whatever shape I need, for these odd-shaped globs. To some people, this is part of the finishing process, but I like getting rid of dust as early as possible, even before posting a small version of an image to the web, whereas I’ll do other things like noise reduction and sharpening at the desired output resolution towards the end of my workflow.
To answer the question I posed initially, I think that yes, Aperture users do still need Photoshop. Even if you’re like me and 80% (or more) of your workflow is now exclusively in Aperture, that other 20% matters a lot. How do you readers feel? What do you use Photoshop for?