Aperture 3 from Apple is a complete photo management and editing suite for Mac OS X Leopard and Snow Leopard. Designed with enthusiasts and professionals in mind, Aperture is built around a nondestructive editing philosophy. Rather than make changes to your original digital images themselves, Aperture leaves them untouched. Any adjustments or edits made are stored on a database and applied to an image on the fly, so that you'll always be able to access your original capture. This allows you to post-process a photograph in as many ways as you'd like, without the danger of making irrevocable changes to your original image.
Aperture serves as an organizational tool for your photographs. You'll be able to organize your pictures to suit your needs. Hobbyists and enthusiasts may prefer to keep all of their images online at once in a single master library -- creating individual projects and albums within to group photos by event, location, subject, or any other criteria that is desired. You'll even be able to create "Smart Albums," which are automatically populated with images that meet a custom set of criteria that you define.
Professionals who need to keep different jobs for different clients segregated for the sake of their sanity will learn to adore the ability to create multiple projects. Simply create a different project for each job or client, and you'll find it much easier to locate and keep track of images. When you are finished with a job, you'll be able to export the project as its own Aperture library. This is perfect for archiving a project to optical disc or to a backup hard drive. If you ever need to go back and access photos for reprints or a gallery show, you can easily load the Aperture library containing the archived project. For further peace of mind, you can even make a copy of your library as a "vault" -- essentially, a copy of your library that can be stored on an external drive for backup purposes.
Of course, you may not always remember in which project or album an image is located. This is where Aperture's powerful metadata and search tools come into play. You'll be able to manually add keywords to images, locate an image by its timestamp, the camera used, the lens used, and other criteria. This is further enhanced by Aperture's Faces and Places modules.
Faces is a powerful facial recognition algorithm. It can scan through you entire photo library, identifying subjects in a photo and automatically adding their name as a keyword. Of course, the software isn't omniscient -- you'll have to identify a few photos of each person before it can start to recognize folks. The more instances that people appear in photos, the better the software will be at recognizing them.
Places allows you to assign a location to your photos. If your camera supports GPS, it will read the recorded coordinates and place the images on a map. This allows you to easily go back and locate a picture based on where it was taken. Those of us still sans GPS (or even using film!) can manually assign a photo to a location on a map.
Aperture now features localized adjustment brushes, allowing you to make adjustments to specific areas of an image. You'll no longer be limited to making adjustments that affect the entire image. You'll have precise control over the size, softness, and strength of each brush. You can even use a Wacom tablet to control the brushes for intuitive editing.
Interested in sharing your work, via a print, photo album, slideshow, or web gallery? Aperture has you covered. You can send an image to your printer with ease -- with full support for calibrated devices and custom color profiles. You'll be able to design a custom photo album and have it printed professionally by Apple, or exported as a PDF so you can have it printed by whomever you'd like. You'll be able to create detailed slideshows, complete with transitions and music. Aperture can export the slideshow as a video optimized for an iPod, an iPhone, YouTube, or an HDTV. You'll also be able to upload photos to the web using Apple's MobileMe service, or as a standard web page for use with the hosting service of your choice. Of course, you'll also be able to upload photos to Facebook and Flickr.
Aperture is an excellent option for hobbyists, enthusiasts, and professionals alike. It even provides an easy upgrade path for users who currently use iPhoto to manage their photo collection. You'll be able to import your iPhoto library in five easy steps -- with all of your keywords and adjustments intact.