Running... Again?

  If you know me you know there was a time about 10 years ago or so where I was running. A lot. At least 5 days a week and at least 5 miles a run. I wasn’t training, I wasn’t preparing for a race or a marathon. I just found myself enjoying the time spent running. I wasn’t obsessed with numbers, but I kept track of them all and liked seeing improvements in time and distances. It was good physical health and mental health. Then I tweaked my knee. Not bad enough that I couldn’t walk on it, just a tweak that told me I needed to back off of running for a little bit. So I decided on 2 weeks. At the end of 2 weeks I aborted a run very early as the pain was still there. 2 weeks became 3, became a month, became 5 years. 


For the last couple years I've been using a few photography tools regularly; iPhoto for basic image editing and cataloging, Smugmug for online sharing/backup, Photoshop Elements 6 for more in-depth photo editing. Actually, I've been using Photoshop for all editing, as I've just not taken to figuring out how to do thing in iPhoto, and it's my understanding that the editing tools in Photoshop are more powerful. So iPhoto was more for cataloging, and as a cataloger it's great. I can tag people in my photos, then find all the photos with that person in it. I can tag location in my photos. If I were to ever take a vacation I think that would be neat to see my trip laid out as a map that I can click on the stopping points to see the pictures there. I can also use the stars to rate photos, and key words to further catalog my photos. I can make Smart Albums based on all of these things. I could have an album that's made up of shots of my friend J, in San Francisco, CA, rated 3 stars or more, and using the key words "biking". Recently though I've been feeling like maybe I had outgrown iPhoto. There's no quantifiable evidence of this; I had begun shooting some RAW shots that iPhoto didn't know what to do with, but I wasn't shooting primarily in RAW. And to be honest I didn't really know what to do with them either; they're just the format you're supposed to shoot in for the best picture quality available. So, armed with my inflated photographer ego, I went scouring the Internet for what other people use, and came back with a mixed bag. On the Mac platform 2 programs stood out, Apple's Aperture 3 and Adobe's Lightroom, along with hybrid setups of 1 of those along with Photoshop, and a whole library of plugins. 
I had initially tried both of these out a couple years back and deemed myself not worthy of them, or just too complicated to use, and had ignored them for the most part since then. Being an Apple fan I'd hear news of Aperture, but since at the time it didn't have Faces and Places I wasn't going to consider it. Well Aperture 3 came out and with it Faces and Places from iPhoto. It was time to give it a second look. Plus, I had supposedly outgrown iPhoto so I was ready. After downloading the 30 day free trial I fired it up, eager to unleash the secrets it held, only to stare blankly at the screen, lost. It was obvious I wasn't going to be able to just use this the same way I was using iPhoto, so I went looking for videos, tutorials, blogs and slowly began feeling more at home with it's panes, tools, and menus, but I was still relying heavily on Photoshop. I wanted to cut my Photoshop use though, so I'm determined to understand and use Aperture. I've figured out how to do what I think of as basic photo editing in Aperture; white balance correction, exposure, controlling bright and dark spots, etc. but I'm amazed at the level of ways I can do this. I can apply a setting either to the whole picture or "brush" it on specific areas of the picture. Can this be done in Photoshop? Not my version, but yeah probably. Why is this neat? Other than the pinpoint control, I don't have to leave Aperture to do it; I can view and do minor to major editing all within the same program. In one window I can tag friends, give the photo a location, and eliminate red eye and other photo problems. This also puts less of a drain on my computer resources. In order to do all the cool things you want to your photos, imaging software takes up a bunch of memory and CPU cycles. Having 2 imaging applications open can definitely make a noticeable impact on your computer.
So I was ready to uninstall Photoshop. Okay, maybe not uninstall it, but leave it off of my "most used applications" folder until I got to the point where in a couple years I laugh that I have it installed still. Except I like HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography, and there are some steps in HDR processing that can't be done in Aperture or Lightroom. Basically, I needed to use layers (stacking of different photos on top of each other) and masking (letting parts of 1 photo show through to the main image) that only Photoshop, or a Photoshop competitor, could do. So I guess I won't be ridding myself of Photoshop after-all. in fact, I'm wondering if I'll need to upgrade it to really do the stuff I want to do with it. But we'll see. First, I have to master Aperture though, and that's been slow going. I feel that this software change has made me realize that my ego was bigger than my knowledge, but through learning how to use Aperture, my knowledge could maybe catch up with my ego. It's nice to find new stuff that you don't know, especially about something you think you know a lot about.


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