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Thread: Where does Aperture 2 keep imported RAW files?

  1. #1
    Mitch Alland
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    Where does Aperture 2 keep imported RAW files?

    I've been looking at Aperture 2 this evening and came across something that could be an important issue for me: if RAW files are imported into A2 and one choses to "Store Files in the Aperture Library" they are kept in kept in a file by that name. If one then does a Show Package Contents one sees that the Aperture Library contains files for each Project into which one has imported files; these file names are "project name.approject" — "project name" being the name one gave to each project. Doing Show Package Contents on the "project name.approject" files shows that this is where the RAW files have been imported. All this means, of course, that these RAW files are then not accessible to other editing programs like LightZone. This is not an issue if one intends to use only A2 for RAW conversion because the converted files will be then available to other editing programs.

    But all this does mean, if one wants to have access to the RAW files directly, one has to first download them from the camera to one's hard disk and then import them to A2 using the option "Store Files in their current location". While this is easily doable the problem is that one then cannot use A2 to organize these files the way one can use Lightroom to organize files.

    Am I missing something?

    —Mitch/Bangkok
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/

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    Re: Where does Aperture 2 keep imported RAW files?

    Mitch,
    Aperture provides you with the option to leave files in whatever folder structure you choose, as you noted. This is how I have done things from the start....download image files to my own folder structure, from which I can access those files with any app. The nice thing about Aperture, is that you can create a project and import referenced files to that project from any folder. So, for example, if you had made several trips to a particular place, you could create a project folder for that place and then import the images to that project. The original RAW files will still be in whatever folder structure you set up. As long as those files are accessible to Aperture, you will be able to do all of your editing and organizing, working on them as referenced files.

    Aperture does not really care where the files are stored, in its own library or some other file structure. It just creates pointers to those files, along with the adjustment instruction sets that it stores in its own library. I have been able to keep very large collections of images (thumbnails and instruction sets) in the Aperture library on my MacBook Pro, so that I can view, catalogue, etc., those images anywhere. Once I connect back to my network and where the original files are stored, all updates and stuff get synced. This allows one to keep the Aperture library fairly compact, since it contains only thumbnails and instruction sets, and pointers to files stored someplace else.

    You describe the need for that "extra step" in downloading files to a folder, then importing them into Aperture. I do not find this onerous at all, but that is my workflow. I do like that I can easily access any of those images with C1, ACR/PS, RAW Developer, etc., without having to "export" them from Aperture. If I do a conversion and complete a file in PS for example, that gets stored with the original RAW file in that folder, but then I import that image to Aperture if I want to have that version also.

    I know that sounds complicated, but it really is not. Aperture has some very good tools for processing, and even better for cataloging and organizing. You can do all of that in Aperture, while keeping the original RAW files stored in whatever folder structure you care to use. The only thing is that all of your edits and IPTC data adds will be in the Aperture library.....the organizing tool. If you need to send a completed file to somebody, you can. When you are connected to the referenced files while in Aperture, you can export the Master, Version, or whatever combination you need. That will pull a copy of the RAW master from your storage folder, and add in the instructions sets and other data from the Aperture library, so that you have a completed image package with data.

    Takes a bit more to get used to, but the flexibility is there. I have not found a single app that does everything, so I want to be able to use different ones. Aperture also lets you shell out to things like PS to make corrections and then bring those back into Aperture as another version, so you can still do whatever work your need however you want, but still keep a reference file and instructions sets in Aperture, while the master RAW file is stored in the original folder structure you set up for download.

    LJ

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    Re: Where does Aperture 2 keep imported RAW files?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mitch Alland View Post

    But all this does mean, if one wants to have access to the RAW files directly, one has to first download them from the camera to one's hard disk and then import them to A2 using the option "Store Files in their current location". While this is easily doable the problem is that one then cannot use A2 to organize these files the way one can use Lightroom to organize files.

    Am I missing something?

    —Mitch/Bangkok
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/
    HI Mitch
    Yes - LJ is another enthusiast, but I'm not sure he quite clarified this.

    Quite right - I reckon it's much simpler to leave files in their current location (stops the Aperture library from getting too big as well).

    I like to keep my files on an external hard drive in a formalised data structure:
    year / month / shoot (etc).

    I create a project within Aperture for each month, for general work, and add to it during the month, I then also create a project for each individual shoot - these are held in aperture within 'folders' for month and year.

    The difference between Aperture and lightroom, is that in Aperture the structure of the data doesn't have to reflect it's physical structure on the disk.

    This means that you can import images from a number of folders into one project, or from one folder into a number of projects - copying images from one project to another doesn't duplicate disc files, simply creates another pointer.

    I've had various issues with Aperture 1.5 (most of which have been cured with 2). The organisational features however always seemed to be to be absolutely wonderful.

    I have a small library of 20,000 images going back to 1989, and it's so easy to find groups of images - for example, if I decided to create a web page of 'family' shots (surely not) then it takes less than 5 seconds to select 700 images out of the 20,000. Sure, iview will do this, but the joy of such small disk overheads, and such easy creation of new versions is very seductive.

    Just this guy you know

  4. #4
    Mitch Alland
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    Re: Where does Aperture 2 keep imported RAW files?

    Thanks, LJ. Thanks, Jono.

    Yes, A2 deals with files the way I thought and, as you say, you have a lot of flexibility. But you basically have to organize the RAW file in some way, as their names are only numbers; presumably the easiest way is by date. However, I like the Lightroom approach to this better because in LR you can organize the RAW files in named folders within Lightroom, from where you can name and rename folders and move folders and files around. In my view, this is soemewhat easier because you can see a preview of the files in Lightroom as you decide how to organize them.

    As for the editing tool and the quality of the rendering I much prefer A2 to LR. So now I have to decide whether this advantage in A2 makes it worthwhile to lose some of the organizing ease of LR.

    —Mitch/Bangkok
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/

  5. #5
    Senior Member Daniel's Avatar
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    Re: Where does Aperture 2 keep imported RAW files?

    mitch, here's how i addressed my switch between Lightroom and Aperture 2.

    but before i continue, one of the key feature that attracted me to Lightroom is that it doesn't package my imports into a single file like Aperture does. since LR doesn't do this, it offers its users an automated feature where it will automatically organize the imported images based on capture year, month, and date. this option is sorely missing in Aperture. anyway, my Lightroom folder structure is automatically like this:

    YYYY > MM > DD

    this is good when i need to start archiving to DVD because i can easily break up the collection into different year, month, and date.

    now on to Aperture 2: since Aperture doesn't automatically structure my images as Lightroom does while they're imported, i have to manually do the following so that the structure makes sense to me. also, i want to imitate the same folder structure defined by Lightroom so that if i decide to import and store files in their current location, or if i want to continue using Lightroom for other things, i can easily keep track of the images' physical location:

    YYYY (folder) > MM (folder) > YYYY-MM-DD (project)

    the reason the project is named in YYYY-MM-DD format is for archiving purposes. over time, your Aperture Library will become quite large because of new images, and edits. to help keep the library file size manageable, i export idle projects and burn them to DVD. then, i delete the archived project(s) from the library.

    an advantage with this structure is that, when you select the YYYY folder, Aperture will display all the images filed inside this folder. if you wish to see all the images for MM folder, then you select this folder. if you wish to see the images for a specific date, then you select a project named, YYYY-MM-DD. you can go further and create folder(s) inside a project.

    i hope this made sense, and was helpful to you.

    – dan

    EDIT: oops, i didn't answer your question. where the raw file is stored depends on your import option. at import, you have the option to store files in the Aperture Library, in their current location, in Pictures folder, or Choose another location. if you choose the first option, in the Aperture Library, then your raw files will be packaged in this library. if you choose the second option, then your raw files will remain where they are. however, versions will be stored in the Aperture Library. note that if you're importing from Lightroom, even Lightroom's Versions are treated as Masters in Aperture.
    Last edited by Daniel; 15th February 2008 at 12:50.

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    Re: Where does Aperture 2 keep imported RAW files?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mitch Alland View Post
    Thanks, LJ. Thanks, Jono.

    Yes, A2 deals with files the way I thought and, as you say, you have a lot of flexibility. But you basically have to organize the RAW file in some way, as their names are only numbers; presumably the easiest way is by date. However, I like the Lightroom approach to this better because in LR you can organize the RAW files in named folders within Lightroom, from where you can name and rename folders and move folders and files around. In my view, this is soemewhat easier because you can see a preview of the files in Lightroom as you decide how to organize them.

    —Mitch/Bangkok
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/
    Mitch,
    From what you are describing, all you need to do is create that folder structure yourself on whatever drive(s) you choose. I shoot tons of polo and equestrian stuff. I have a simple folder structure: Polo 2008 > Location-Date folder > image files (renamed with yymmdd preceding the RAW file name). Same for Equestrian 2008, and other major groupings of things by place. Since each RAW file has a unique number (date_file number), I can always find them using a search function, so it really does not matter where they get stored.

    I then point Aperture to the folder I want to import from, while dumping things into a Project folder in Aperture, but leaving the originals in their home folder. I can keep separate projects, or a collection of shots, like "awards", "broken mallets", "spectacular shots", or whatever. Those may be one or several shots from each match I shoot. In Aperture, I can do all the work-ups, IPTC edits, etc. If I wanted to use some other RAW processing app, I could still go to the original folders and work on those files.

    As for being able to browse that larger file structure outside of Aperture....that is easy on the Mac. Open Finder and using QuickView in Leopard, you can flip through images like songs/albums in iTunes, seeing thumbnails of all the images in each folder. It really is pretty slick now. I have probably 12-15TB of files on various RAID 5 drives, FW drives, etc., yet I can find stuff without much trouble, and do not feel locked in to any single application. I used to use ACR/PS all the time. I also used PhotoMechanic. I started using Aperture when it first came out. I use C1. I have not used LR, as I figured ACR/PS had that covered for me already. If something else comes along next week, my file structure will not change, and I will merely point the app to those folders. (Sort of like Bridge or PhotoMechanic.)

    Aperture does not require you to get locked into its library, but your Versions and edit data will be stored there. All is exportable, so if you need to change apps later, you still can.

    For me, Aperture was bundling iView, PhotoMechanic, Bridge, ACR, and rudimentary stuff from PS into a single app that is very usable, and now has a much improved processing engine than originally. My only gripe comes with printing. I use the ImagePrint RIP, so I have to output my printable files to a folder that I then feed to the RIP to control that printing. Not a problem for me, just an extra step, and saving a print file. That actually turns out to be a good thing, as when clients reorder, I already have the prepped file ready to go.

    Sorry if my descriptions seemed a bit confusing at first, as Jono mentioned. I guess my excuse is that I do not see any real hurdles for file handling with Aperture. I tear my hair out more with C1, as it tends to sprinkle files into folders all over the place, and that drives me crazy

    LJ

  7. #7
    Mitch Alland
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    Re: Where does Aperture 2 keep imported RAW files?

    Quote Originally Posted by thegrumpymonk View Post
    ...where the raw file is stored depends on your import option...
    Dan, if I decide to switch to A2 the basic decision I have to make is to whether to keep the RAW files in folders outside of A2 or in the A2 library. I'm leaning to the former for the following reasons:

    1. This will not lock me into A2 and will make contemplating a future switch to another program to replace A2 easier, which could be possible given constant development in this field and the fact that, so far, I'm using LightZone for RAW conversion and editing. In other words, it's quite possible that after using A2 for a while I may go back to doing everything, except organizng files, in LightZone. On the other hand, if A2 would get some selection tools that are as good as LightZone Regions, I could stay with A2.

    2. This would keep the A2 library file from growing to a huge size, which would make archiving easier, and would obviate the need for having to export idle projects for archivinga and then deleting them from A2.

    —Mitch/Bangkok
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/

  8. #8
    Mitch Alland
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    Re: Where does Aperture 2 keep imported RAW files?

    Quote Originally Posted by LJL View Post
    ...I then point Aperture to the folder I want to import from, while dumping things into a Project folder in Aperture, but leaving the originals in their home folder...If I wanted to use some other RAW processing app, I could still go to the original folders and work on those files... I used to use ACR/PS all the time. I also used PhotoMechanic. I started using Aperture when it first came out. I use C1...If something else comes along next week, my file structure will not change, and I will merely point the app to those folders...Aperture does not require you to get locked into its library, but your Versions and edit data will be stored there. All is exportable, so if you need to change apps later, you still can...
    That is the approach that I have been thinking about in my previous posting to Dan, particularly as I simple don't have the volume of RAW files that you and Dan have, which makes my problem trivial in comparison.

    Quote Originally Posted by LJL View Post
    ...I use the ImagePrint RIP, so I have to output my printable files to a folder that I then feed to the RIP to control that printing. Not a problem for me, just an extra step, and saving a print file. That actually turns out to be a good thing, as when clients reorder, I already have the prepped file ready to go...
    I also use ImagePrint, but for B&W prints I do the following when using LightZone:

    1. Open the exported TIFF file in Photoshop.

    2. Apply the PK Sharpen output sharpening facility using "Inkjet 360 Glossy for "printer targeting sharpening, which I usually apply gently at an opacity at 50%". Incidentally, my reasoning is that ImagePrint will be sending a 360 file to the printer: I don't resize the file but let ImagePrint do the uprezzing, even by huge multiples. While this is not supposed to work as well as uprezzing the file in steps in Photoshop, I find that the results are good this way, even for huge prints.

    3. Convert the file to Grayscale and Apply 2.2 Gamma.

    4. Rename the file and save for printing — I place PRN in the file name — and then place in ImagePrint. I also keep the original TIFF exported by LightZone, which contains all the LightZone edit information.

    —Mitch/Bangkok
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/

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    Re: Where does Aperture 2 keep imported RAW files?

    Thanks everyone for a very helpful thread.

    I'm currently using LR, but I'm intrigued by A2 because people seem to like the final images more. (C1 drives me too crazy though I haven't seen the newest version.)

    I do color almost exclusively. I get the impression that most would not use LightZone if they only shot color. Is this right?

    Also, are people happy printing color from A2? I have an Epson 3800, and think I don't need a rip.

    Thanks,

    Mitchell

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    Re: Where does Aperture 2 keep imported RAW files?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mitchell View Post
    Thanks everyone for a very helpful thread.

    I'm currently using LR, but I'm intrigued by A2 because people seem to like the final images more. (C1 drives me too crazy though I haven't seen the newest version.)

    I do color almost exclusively. I get the impression that most would not use LightZone if they only shot color. Is this right?

    Also, are people happy printing color from A2? I have an Epson 3800, and think I don't need a rip.

    Thanks,

    Mitchell
    I really like the printing from A2 (actually I liked it from A1 as well) I think it does a much better job than Lightoom - especially with large prints.

    I also managed to get it to print using the Quadtone RIP from within Aperture, but I don't bother now as the black and white prints seem good anyway.

    I use an Epson 4000

    Just this guy you know

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    Re: Where does Aperture 2 keep imported RAW files?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mitch Alland View Post
    That is the approach that I have been thinking about in my previous posting to Dan, particularly as I simple don't have the volume of RAW files that you and Dan have, which makes my problem trivial in comparison.

    I also use ImagePrint, but for B&W prints I do the following when using LightZone:

    1. Open the exported TIFF file in Photoshop.

    2. Apply the PK Sharpen output sharpening facility using "Inkjet 360 Glossy for "printer targeting sharpening, which I usually apply gently at an opacity at 50%". Incidentally, my reasoning is that ImagePrint will be sending a 360 file to the printer: I don't resize the file but let ImagePrint do the uprezzing, even by huge multiples. While this is not supposed to work as well as uprezzing the file in steps in Photoshop, I find that the results are good this way, even for huge prints.

    3. Convert the file to Grayscale and Apply 2.2 Gamma.

    4. Rename the file and save for printing — I place PRN in the file name — and then place in ImagePrint. I also keep the original TIFF exported by LightZone, which contains all the LightZone edit information.

    —Mitch/Bangkok
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/
    That's a lot of work - I think you'd find that you could do most of that within A2 with a separate version.

    Incidentally, I don't know of anyone who keeps their files within the Aperture Library - it quickly becomes much too big. It's ironic really in that one of my bugbears about lightroom was that you pretty much had to mirror your folder structure - whereas in Aperture you CAN mirror it . . . or not, whichever suits better.

    I really don't think you'd find file organisation a problem with A2, but I recommend that you make a folder structure, and then 'import' to aperture projects leaving files 'in their current location'

    Incidentally - it's easy to export files from Aperture with all the metadata etc. should you want to use something else later on. You aren't trapped.

    Just this guy you know

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    Re: Where does Aperture 2 keep imported RAW files?

    Can you import an iPhoto library into A2 easily?

  13. #13
    Senior Member Daniel's Avatar
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    Re: Where does Aperture 2 keep imported RAW files?

    Quote Originally Posted by Maggie O View Post
    Can you import an iPhoto library into A2 easily?
    hi maggie,

    yes you can import to aperture from iphoto.

    iphoto can also import aperture's projects. if there are Stacks, then only the Pick of the stack is imported to iphoto.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Daniel's Avatar
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    Re: Where does Aperture 2 keep imported RAW files?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mitch Alland View Post
    Dan, if I decide to switch to A2 the basic decision I have to make is to whether to keep the RAW files in folders outside of A2 or in the A2 library. I'm leaning to the former for the following reasons:

    1. This will not lock me into A2 and will make contemplating a future switch to another program to replace A2 easier, which could be possible given constant development in this field and the fact that, so far, I'm using LightZone for RAW conversion and editing. In other words, it's quite possible that after using A2 for a while I may go back to doing everything, except organizng files, in LightZone. On the other hand, if A2 would get some selection tools that are as good as LightZone Regions, I could stay with A2.

    2. This would keep the A2 library file from growing to a huge size, which would make archiving easier, and would obviate the need for having to export idle projects for archivinga and then deleting them from A2.]
    this is a bit long, but i hope this make sense to you and will not create confusion.

    i think for your situation, the option to import files in their current location is the ideal option because this offers you some flexibility to switch between applications until you zero-in on the best application that'll serve your needs. just remember that Versions created by Aperture will live in Aperture Library, and so long as you use the same folder structure from Ligthtroom in Aperture, you'll reduce the confusion between the two while you're still evaluating both applications. this option also reduces duplicate raw files; that is, one in Ligthroom and the other in Aperture.

    here's my situation: i've been using Ligthroom for several months. i like it, but i personally prefer Aperture. especially Aperture 2. so, i'm migrating all my raw and version files from Lightroom to Aperture Library. before i do this, i create the same folder structure as Lightroom in Aperture. i chose this path because i know that if i change my mind about Aperture i can easily export the Masters and Aperture Versions back to Lightroom without modifying the folder structure between both programs.

    for example, as described in the previous reply, my Aperture folder structure is the same as Lightroom: YYYY (folder) > MM (folder) > YYYY-MM-DD (project). lets say, i decide to go back to Lightroom, and i want to export my Master and Version files into Lightoom's library. but exporting a Project is pointless because Lightroom does not read Aperture's Project. to address this, Aperture offers several options when i Export. i've the option to export Version, Master, or Project. we're only interested in Version and Master, but i'll use only exporting Master as an example because they've the same procedure.

    lets say, i want to export my Master files into Lightroom libary. choosing export Master, Aperture's save-to dialog window appears offering me the following choices: Subfolder Format, Name Format, and Metadata. to keep this reply from getting any longer, we're only interested in Subfolder Format.

    since my Lightroom libray folder structure is YYYY (folder)>MM (folder)>DD (folder), i choose Image Year/Month/Day for Subfolder Format. clicking on Export Masters button, Aperture will export Masters to DD folder inside MM folder and inside YYYY folder. exactly the same folder structure used in Ligthroom. this is the same for exporting Versions.

    i hope this was helpful.

    –dan

    EDIT: regarding archiving. i think the discussed export option is better for archiving versus exporting a Project because the project file is locked in to Aperture, whereas the other is open to any application.
    Last edited by Daniel; 16th February 2008 at 11:13.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Daniel's Avatar
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    Re: Where does Aperture 2 keep imported RAW files?

    mitch i have a correction to make:

    i suspected that i was saying something incorrectly. it was that nagging feeling. you know what i mean?

    anyway, this part, "just remember that Versions created by Aperture will live in Aperture Library" is not completely correct. it's conditional.

    if you open a Master (edit with an external editor) in its current location within Aperture without making any edits with Aperture's tools, its version file is saved in the same folder as the Master. BUT, if you've made edits to the Master file with Aperture's tools, its version is saved in Aperture Library because Aperture needs to associate its version with it's library to track the changes made with Aperture's tools.

    sorry about the confusion.

    – dan

    EDIT: to demonstrate this for yourself. try this first. import a file in its current location, but don't make any edits with Aperture's tools. open the file with an external editor. Aperture will create a version in the same folder as the original. to confirm this, right-click and select Show in Finder.

    Next, try this. using the same file, and edit with Aperture's tools. Aperture will create a version in its library. to confirm this, right-click on the version and select Show in Finder.
    Last edited by Daniel; 16th February 2008 at 17:55.

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