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Curves. ‘Nuff Said.

PhotoJoseph's picture
February 11, 2010 - 9:56am

For those who follow me on twitter, you’ll know I was very excited about the addition of curves to Aperture 3. I suspect there’s a lot to the Adjustment here, perhaps more than I’m familiar with, but I just had a moment to look at them and yep… them be curves!!

Why do I care? I’m used to working with curves from a lot of different applications, and it’s a familiar way for me to get the look I want. Quarter-tones in Levels are great and can do pretty much the same thing, but frankly I just like using Curves.

Ah yes—the first thing I did when I saw that Curves had no keyboard shortcut, was to create one. (Check my post from last week about customizing your keyboard to see how; it doesn’t appear to have changed in Aperture 3.) Control was the common modifier for Adjustments commands, and Control-C was already assigned to the Color adjustment, so I made it Control-U. Why U? It’s the second letter in cUrves.

So now, a tap of Control-U and Curves are added. Here’s a sample photo; this is the original image.

Original photo; a NYC cabIn the world of film, a classic look to apply to a shot is to crush the blacks (shadows) and pump up the whites (highlights). Using Curves, this is achieved by a simple, classic s-curve. Like so:

Here’s the same cab shot, with the above s-curve applied.

Photo with Curves applied; a NYC cabEasy! And a great look.

I’m going to be shipping a pack of Image Adjustment Presets in the very near future, and so just to see how it works, here’s the above Curves setting as a downloadable preset. This is dead simple—the ones I sell will be much more involved than this. But just to see how it works, go ahead and download this for free, and check it out.

Click to download a free Image Adjustment Preset of the simple s-curve aboveTo install this, first unzip it (the Finder may do that for you upon download). Then in Aperture 3, in the Adjustments tab, click the Presets menu and choose Edit Presets…

That will open the Presets editor. From there click the gear menu in the bottom left, and select Import…

You can figure out what to do from there ;-) Once it’s imported, close the editor and pick an image, then select the preset to have it applied, like this.

I love the preview you get of each preset. Awesome!

Enjoy! Many more, and much more advanced, presets will be available soon.

Apple Aperture

I was excited to finally see curves come to Aperture, too. Though I get by with Levels, my use of curves in other applications made more sense to me. I guess I like curves better than straight lines, eh?

I think you have more control with curves. Just a different way to approach image adjustment. I’ll do an in-depth on that for sure.


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