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So we need to talk about where our master files are going to be stored when we import them into the Aperture library. So what do I mean by master files? Well, those are the actual pictures that your camera has captured. So when I take this picture, whether it's a RAW or a JPEG, the camera creates the master file. And what Aperture does when I want to work with one of these shots is that it reads that original master file.
Let's say that I want to do some image editing on this file, right here, and I go to Adjustments and I want to make some sort of change, I want to maybe change the color temperature a little bit, cool it off, let's say. So what Aperture just did was it read my original file and then it noted what change I made, and then it generated a new preview. That's what I'm looking at. Those previews are what are shared with the other applications and so forth.
So it's a master file and preview and the preview is based upon the master file plus whatever changes I make to the appearance or the metadata. So, then the decision is where do we store these master files? We already know where the previews, what we're looking at, where they're going to be stored. They're going to be stored in the Aperture library on your computer. The size of those files, of course, are going go be determined by what we selected here under the Previews tab and under this pop-up menu.
So, we know what's going to happen with the previews. We know how big they're going to be. However, the master files can be quite big, especially if you're shooting RAW. So, your poor computer may not be able to handle all of the RAW files you shoot, plus your music, plus your movies, plus everything else. So you may want to separate those master files from your computer, put them on an external hard drive and then have Aperture read those files. That's called the referenced file system, or you may want to just store everything on your local computer in the Aperture library container.
Let me show you the Aperture library container real quick just so-- we'll go to the Finder here. So in your Pictures folder, you have a file. The minute you open Aperture, you have a container here called the Aperture Library. Now within this container are all the work and metadata and everything that you do. If you choose what we call the managed file approach, which is store the masters inside this container, then all the RAW files and JPEGs that your camera captures will go in here too.
Now if you have tons of disk space like right here where we've got 1.24 TB, then you can afford to have all those masters stored here. However, if you're working off a laptop like I am most of the time, my laptop could not store all the RAW files that I shoot. I need to store them somewhere else. So I store them in a separate drive here called Photo Masters. This is where they're stored. Those masters that come off of my camera are stored in this folder here and then they are stored inside of here.
Then I point Aperture to these files and it reads them and then it generates previews. It's seamless while I'm working. In other words, I don't really notice that I'm working off a referenced file or a file that's stored inside the Aperture library. It's fairly seamless to me. So let's go back to Aperture for a second. So how would we set that up and what is the thinking that we need to make that decision? Let's go to our Import dialog box, right here, and here are the files that we had before, all waiting for us.
So I have both the JPEGs and RAW files here. These are fairly big files. So if I wanted to store everything in my Aperture Library on my computer, then here in the Import dialog box, I would choose Store Files In the Aperture Library and everything would be in there. If however I decided that I need to store these master files somewhere else, because my computer doesn't have enough room, then I would go and I would choose another location.
In this case, I'm going to choose the connected hard drive that I have and it's a little LaCie Rugged. Then all of my image masters are stored here. Now the way Aperture works is that it reads the master file, wherever it's stored, either on an external drive or in my Aperture Library, I'm going to go ahead and just cancel this right now. Then when make a change to the file. It actually then remembers the changes that I make and then it generates a new preview.
So it's not changing the master. That's even true if it's a JPEG. If I load this JPEG, no matter where it goes Aperture will not alter this original JPEG. It will always generate a new preview. So you just have to decide where are you going to store your files. On your computer, in that case, you choose In the Aperture Library, or on a separate hard drive, in that case, you would choose which hard drive that would be. I would create a separate folder for those images to go in.
Now, here's the good news. Let's say that you choose that route. Let's say you choose the so- called referenced file approach. You can still do everything that you need to do. I'm going to go ahead and close the Import dialog box for a minute. You can still do everything that you would need to do. For instance, you could change the caption and you can build slideshows. You can do all the stuff without a hard drive with master files connected. The only thing that you wouldn't be able to do is make image edits or export a file that's bigger than the size of your preview.
So you could conceivably leave your master files at home, take your laptop with your Aperture Library, and all of the previews that it generated, and build a book or do your metadata or show a slideshow, all that kind of stuff. So, the referenced file approach is very popular, especially with photographers who are shooting these large RAW files, because they don't have to keep those original files on their computer. They can be stored somewhere else. Again, the way that you set that up is that you go to Import and then you choose in the Aperture library or on a separate drive.
You can change your mind up the road, no matter what you choose, because you still have this option. If you go up here to File, you'll see that you have two options under the File menu, Relocate Master and Consolidate. These options allow you to change your mind. So, for instance, right now this master is located in my Aperture library on my computer. If I decided I wanted to move that master out to an external hard drive, I would use this command, or if I decided that I wanted to bring a master file that was on an external hard drive into my Aperture library, I would use this command.
So, Aperture is very flexible basically. You get to work the way you want, but it is worth thinking about a little bit before you get too far down the road in setting up your Aperture library. Where are those masters going to live, on your computer or on an external drive?
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