I decided to give Lightroom 5 a try. I’ve been using Aperture 3 for a couple years now. What I like about Aperture is the easy and clean interface, tone and color tools, and the simple-but-useful brushes. But lately I’ve felt a little frustrated because my images tend to be a little dirty and/or noisy. I knew that noise reduction and sharpening are two big holes in my post processing knowledge, so I began to research them. It seems that these are two things Aperture doesn’t do very well. People say Lightroom does a better job, so I tried it out and found that to be true.
But I should back up first. When I first pulled the above image into Lightroom 5, everything is set up differently from Aperture. To be honest, after a few minutes, I gave up trying to get a nice result, and went back to Aperture. Then I reminded myself how it took some time to get used to Aperture and learn how to get the results I wanted to see. It takes a lot of trial and error to figure out what works to your taste. So I spent a few hours watching YouTube tutorials on basic Lightroom workflow and basic image enhancement.
Then I went back to Lightroom to try out what I’d learned. Wow! I can get the nice, clean, smooth, sharp look I wanted to see but never could quite achieve in Aperture. The problem seems to be that when I try to push exposure and colors too much in Aperture things get gritty and noisy fairly quickly. It feels like I don’t have a lot of latitude. This can happen in Lightroom too, but Lightroom has really nice sharpening and noise reduction under the “Detail” adjustment palette on the right. It does an excellent job of sharpening things up but keeping it clean.
Here’s a shot I took last summer at Crystal Peak, looking toward Mt. Rainier. I used my EOS 7D and the 17-40 f/4L lens. Editing the RAW file again in Lightroom 5 gave a nicer result than I got in Aperture. I used a couple adjustment brushes and a graduated filter. There was a lot of haze that day, and a polarizing filter helped, but Lightroom adjustments also made a big difference.
So the lesson for me was (once again): Don’t give up if you are frustrated on your first attempt to jump into something new. Try to learn from others and experiment. Different environments require different approaches. I still have a lot to learn before I could start posting my work on 500px, but I am always trying to learn something new.