The Ins and Outs of Non-destructive Editing in Photos for Mac and iOS

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Photos boasts non-destructive editing of photos, even when you use a Photos extension to make changes. While the basic non-destructive feature works well, there are some snags that can result in undesirable outcomes, particularly with RAW images and when using multiple editors.

This is a fascinating article which makes it very clear just what a powerful tool Aperture 2.x was (3.x was a step backwards in terms of interface), doing almost all of this in real time and allowing easy export of sidecars.

Working with any RAW converter which doesn’t store sidecars is a kind of digital deathwish. Sooner or later the program won’t be supported or the files will be moved and one’s edits will be lost. Sidecars should always be stored with the original images, in the worst case in a subfolder.

The most reliable partner (and affordable) for one’s images in Iridient Developer, who does not try to to manage your images. The Finder can do most image management especially with Raw Right Away Quicklook plugin, $7 in the App store. For culling of images on ingest, just grab FastRawViewer which uses standard XMP sidecars to store rating data. Rating and throwing away all the unneeded outtakes is probably the most important part of image editing in this digital age with hundreds and thousands of images.

For more serious RAW development the tools get expensive. DxO PhotoLab and CaptureOne are the market leaders among software one can purchase. Adobe will never get a foot back on my computer as I will not rent desktop software. Plus when I installed a trial to do some testing for an article, uninstalling Adobe CC was so incredibly complicated. Adobe CC is basically full time spyware that spends most its time watching everything you do on your computer and sending data back to Adobe headquarters. DxO PhotoLab is the least invasive (CaptureOne wants a few more permissions than I want to give).

Affinity Photo offers great Photoshop level tools for very little money and even includes a RAW converter. While Affinity Photo is a great Photoshop replacement, the front end RAW converter is no great shakes (probably Apple Photos level).

It would be great if Apple would respect its pro users and not neglect and then cancel important projects like Aperture. The FCP Studio 3 abandonment was not much better. It was five years before FCPX was even partially ready to replace FCP Studio. These antics lost Apple the post-production pole position and giving it away to Adobe with its Premiere and After Effects. Based on the mediocre condition of Apple Photos, I’m surprised that Apple allowed Nik to walk away. Apple need all the expert help they can get, to create even a shadow of what Aperture was.

Now that Nik’s explained the internal workings of Apple Photos, I’m glad I only used it for a couple of test projects to see how it worked.

Again, this is one of the most interesting and in-depth articles I’ve enjoyed on TidBITS for the last couple of years. Great look behind the scenes.