Editor's note -- In this second of two parts, Ellen Anon (Aperture Exposed and Inside Aperture) takes you through the bottom half of the Adjustment palette brick by brick. She picks up with the Enhance brick and continues down through the rest of the palette.

Using the Enhance Brick

The Contrast slider is now part of the Enhance brick, but it works the same as before. Move it to the right to increase contrast throughout the image and to the left to decrease contrast. It works by moving the majority of pixels and making them closer to the midtones (reducing overall contrast) or forcing the pixels closer to the extreme values, increasing contrast.


The Definition slider is an extremely effective tool that can give your image that extra “pop" to increase its impact. It adds localized contrast which visually gives the sense of increased detail and sharpness. The effect is similar to using Unsharp Mask in Photoshop with extremely low amounts and high radius settings. At least with nature photographs I'm finding that most images benefit from using this tool. It can be helpful to check your settings while using the Loupe tool set to 100% magnification.

Original, no sharpening

Original, no sharpening

Definition added

Definition added, no sharpening

The Saturation slider increases or decreases the saturation of all colors equally. The new Vibrancy slider differentially increases saturation. It's designed to protect some skin tones while increasing the saturation of other colors. In practical terms it has very little effect on yellows and oranges but will increase or decrease the saturation in other colors. If you need more specific control over which colors are affected, use the Color Tool. In the following example, I reduced the Vibrancy to zero just to demonstrate which colors are affected by this slider.

Original Image


Vibrancy reduced to zero

Vibrancy reduced to zero - note yellows and oranges remain

The Tint wheels are unchanged. Use the eyedroppers to neutralize a colorcast in the blacks, midtone grays, and/or whites or manually adjust the values by dragging the circle in the middle of the corresponding color wheel. Double click within the color wheel to return the tint to the default position.

The Levels and Highlight/Shadow tools have not changed. Use them to further refine the tonal adjustments you made in the Exposure brick.

Using The Color Brick

The Color tool is quite powerful and enables you to selectively fine tune the color parameters for six colors. By default the tool is set to red, yellow, green, cyan, blue and magenta. However, often the color you want to adjust falls somewhere in-between. In that case, first click one of the preset colors to customize. Then click the eyedropper tool and click in the image on the color you need to change. The color swatch will reflect the overall hue that you're working with. Adjust the hue, saturation, and luminance sliders as needed. Then adjust the range slider to increase or decrease the range of colors affected by these changes. You can even do multiple customizations of similar colors -- such as one for oranges and another for reds.

Original Image


Using the Color Tool Eyedropper

Using the Color Tool Eyedropper

Image After


Using The Retouch Tool

This is undoubtedly one of the most popular additions to Aperture -- it's fast, it's accurate, and it's logical! And it will save a lot of trips to Photoshop as well!

Access the Retouch HUD by pressing the X key or by clicking on the icon in the toolbar. Retouch has two modes of operation, Clone and Repair. As you would expect, the Clone Mode copies pixels from one area to another. Define the source by pressing Option and clicking an area and the click and drag the cursor over the area to be replaced.

In the Retouch HUD, adjust the size of the brush to be just slightly larger than the width of what you need to remove. Set Softness to determine how discrete or blended an edge you want, and set Opacity to determine the transparency of the repair. In most cases you'll want 100 percent opacity, but when blending a repair and using existing pixels to create a new background in an area where you've removed an object, using the tool at a reduced opacity can create more natural results. Remember to Option click to set the source every time you start to clone in a new area. It works in a non-aligned manner and will continue to sample from the original source each time you click on a new area until you redefine the source.

Repair mode is similar to Adobe's healing tools. It copies texture and blends color. In addition to the size, softness and opacity sliders, you can opt to have Aperture automatically choose the source or set it yourself. I've found that the automatic setting works well in many situations, particularly if you have the Detect Edges option checked. However in areas with a lot of detail, setting the source manually may give better results. Click and drag a small distance for best results. For most dust removal tasks, the repair tool is fast and efficient.

Tip: For best results, use the Retouch tool at the beginning of your workflow before making other extensive adjustments. Aperture redraws each adjustment with every click of the Retouch tools and that takes time and memory resources. If you've already adjusted an image and want to use the tool for significant retouching, consider unchecking the visibility boxes in the various adjustment bricks. Then recheck them when you're done.

Using the Devignette and Vignette Tools

The first thing you'll notice is that the Devignette and Vignette tools are separate and are accessed from the Add adjustments popup menu (the + icon) in the Adjustments HUD. Use the Devignette tool to remove darkened corners that appear in images from some lenses or from using a thick filter with a wide-angle lens. The Size slider controls how far into the image the lightening will occur while the Amount slider controls how much lighter the corners will become.

The Vignette tool does just the opposite. It adds darkness to the edges of your image. By default the tool uses the Gamma mode which will normally give a much stronger effect than in Exposure mode. Exposure mode will subtly darken the corners much the way Ansel Adams did in his darkroom to subtly draw attention into an image. Your artistic vision for each image will determine which mode you prefer. If you apply a crop, the vignette will be applied to the new boundaries of your image.

Original Image


Image with Strong Vignette Applied

Strong Vignette applied

By using these new tools in conjunction with all the familiar adjustment tools in Aperture, it's easy to make your images look their best! Be sure to check out Part 1 of this series that covers the top half of the Adjustment palette.

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