Apple, Photography

Migrating from Apple Aperture to Google Photos

In the middle of 2014, Apple announced they were ceasing further development of Aperture, the company’s professional photo management application I had been using to catalog and post-process my images since 2005.

Aperture continued to work in OS X 10.10 Yosemite, and it works more or less under OS X 10.11 El Capitan. All bets are off for OS X 10.12, so I have finally decided to take stock of my options for migrating away from Aperture. I had compiled quite a library of tagged, annotated, and organized images since I started taking digital photographs in 1999 with an Agfa ePhoto 1680, a 1.3 megapixel camera with a swivel lens).

I use iCloud Photo Library, and the majority of images there are from my iPhone camera. I have over 174,000 images in my Aperture Library totaling 1.68TB in size and only a handful of those photos have made it into my iCloud Photo Library. Apple doesn’t offer a storage tier greater than 1TB (I have the 200GB plan), but I don’t think I would sign up even if they did. As much as I like the idea of having all of my images in Photos and accessible from all of my devices, I am concerned about the performance hit of such a large library.

Exporting over 174,000 photos from Aperture took three days.

Last week, I exported all of the images in Aperture to JPEG files, a process that took three days. Last year, I purchased my 2015 Retina 15″ MacBook Pro without the discrete graphics chips expressly because I have had two laptops crap out due to overheating chipsets. The fans were on 24/7 for the entire export time, and the battery was actually discharging very slowly even though the computer was plugged into power. Knock on wood, but I hope I didn’t cause my laptop’s motherboard any permanent harm!

A little over one hundred thousand images remaining to upload.

Right now, I am uploading all of my images to Google Photos. The service offers unlimited storage if the images are downsized to 16MP. That’s a fair tradeoff for me, since I already keep multiple offsite backups of my RAW images. I am also very interested in the automatic tagging of photos, animated GIFs and panoramas that Google Photos offers. I have spent probably months manually adding metadata to my images; I am ready for a machine to do the job for me now. Yes, there are privacy concerns about giving Google access to my photos, but as with the megapixel limit, I am at peace with the tradeoff at the moment.

I did not get around to making each RAW image perfect before exporting a high-resolution JPEG in Aperture; that would have taken forever. I figure if I come across a photo in Google Photos that needs adjusting, I could edit it in Google Photos itself or open the original in Aperture (if it’s still working, otherwise Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop), dicker with it, and re-upload it to Google.

I did consider other options before choosing Google Photos, such as SmugMug and Upthere. While the megapixel limit is higher in SmugMug, there is a 5,000 images per gallery limit; I didn’t want to spend the time right now to upload my photos in 5,000 file chunks. I have some friends who work at Upthere, but I haven’t found the time to use the product. Upthere is also a startup in a space where there’s been much consolidation, and I can’t speak to its long-term prospects. While Google’s track record with new products hasn’t been the best, I don’t think Google Photos will go the way of Google Wave or Picasa; I feel reasonably confident that it will be around in some form or another for the next decade.

As far processing and organizing my RAW files moving forward, I am still looking at DAM and RAW processing products. There’s Lightroom, but I have never warmed up to its file organization system. I used to use Capture One, but I am hesitant to plunk down a few hundred dollars and have to upgrade every few years (something I’d have to do with Lightroom too). Knowing me, I’ll probably continue to poke along with Aperture until the software finally dies or until I buy a camera that Aperture doesn’t support. My Canon EOS 5D Mark II is almost 8 years ago, but it still gets the job done. That’s one piece of technology that has lasted the test of time thus far!

Performance, Photography

Edwardian Ball 2010

This past Saturday, Petrice, Rae and I attended the 10th Annual Edwardian Ball in San Francisco. The event was held in the Grand Ballroom at the Regency Center, which was — in my opinion — a better venue than the other ones we’ve been to in the past: The Great American Music Hall in 2007 and the Cat Club in 2005.

In place of the top hat and corsets from previous years, Rae and I decided to wear our Qing Dynasty era costumes from our documentary film Autumn Gem. Fortunately for us, these outfits were from the same timeframe of the Edwardian Era (turn of the century, 1900s). We received several, “Your costumes are great!” comments from people in attendance. Rae and I had just watched the pilot for Caprica, and I remarked to her that it felt like we were in the virtual nightclub from the beginning of the episode!

Although I took a few photos during the event, I concentrated mainly on video Saturday night. Between all the waltzing, the crazy costumes and the on-stage performances, there was plenty of great moments to capture. The off-stage lighting was quite dim, making focusing a challenge. For those interested in technical details, I shot the video with my Canon EOS-5D Mark II camera, 24/1.4, Nikkor 50/1.8, 135/2 lenses, and a Zacuto Tactical Shooter with the Z-Finder eyepiece attachment.

Read the rest of this post and watch the video

COBA, Journal, Photography

Final COBA Meeting

After seven and a half years of running Camera Owners of the Bay Area, I called it a night on the user group Wednesday evening. It’s been an incredible ride, one in which I’ve made many new friends in the photography community. When I started COBA, there weren’t many face-to-face user groups focusing on Digital SLRs. Also back then, Digital SLRs were expensive, starting at $3000 for the Canon EOS D30. Now, you can get a quality DSLR for under $500, less if you buy used!

COBA has covered numerous topics over the years, camera announcements, software techniques, hardware reviews, trip reports, sensor cleaning, bags, do-it-yourself gadgets, RAW processing applications, and much more. I went through a presentation detailing all of the meeting topics from the entire history of COBA. 7.5 years in just 30 minutes! I was amazed by the breadth of topics covered; even in the sessions that repeated themselves over the years, people learned new things.

Moving forward, I’ll try to organize some annual gatherings of COBA members. I’ll see many of them at the local Smug user groups, also held at SmugMug headquarters in Mountain View.

Until the next COBA gathering, enjoy these photos taken by Rae, from the final monthly COBA meeting!

[smugmug url=”″ imagecount=”100″ start=”1″ num=”100″ thumbsize=”Th” link=”smugmug” captions=”true” sort=”true” window=”false” smugmug=”false” size=”X1″]


For Sale: 1Ds Mark II and 1D Mark II

The 1D Mark II and 1Ds Mark II have served me well, but they are now looking for a new home! I’m selling the bodies individually or as a package for an unbeatable price. If you or anyone you know is interested in picking up a high-speed and high-resolution camera combination, let me know!

I’m including extra batteries for both cameras, the AC adapters, DC couplers, and body caps. Both cameras are in great condition and will serve their next owner (maybe you!) very well.

  • 1D Mark II and 1Ds Mark II Combo: $4500
  • 1Ds Mark II (~24000 actuations): $3500
  • 1D Mark II: $1500

The 1D Mark II is an 8-megapixel camera that shoots at an awesome 8 frames per second. The 1Ds Mark II features a full-frame 16-megapixel sensor. Use the 1D Mark II to capture high-speed action and the 1Ds Mark II for portraits and landscapes.

I recently had a brand-new shutter installed on the 1D, so it’s ready for your 8 fps action!


iPhoneDevCamp 3 Group Photo


iPhoneDevCamp 3 Group Photo