Apple's Aperture 3 adds face recognition, GPS

New version of Apple's professional photography software adds more than 200 new features, including the popular Faces and Places introduced in iPhoto '09.

Apple released on Tuesday the next generation of its professional photography workflow software, Aperture 3. Among more than 200 new features is the addition of face recognition and GPS location for photos.

Faces and Places are popular features introduced with the consumer-oriented iPhoto '09, but it didn't take long before Aperture users wanted the same functionality in the professional software too. While the basics are the same, Kirk Paulsen, Apple's senior director of photo apps product marketing, said the features have been enhanced for Aperture.

Paulsen told CNET that Apple took the Faces feature and applied it to individual projects within Aperture. This allows people to search for faces within a small segment of their photo library, instead of the entire library like iPhoto does.

Aperture 3's Faces feature allows you to create of library of your photo subjects. Apple

Aperture 3 also supports Places and enhances the use of GPS data by supporting GPS logs. For example, if you were taking pictures in New York City, you could drop one of the photos onto a map, and Aperture's Places function would then drop the rest of the photos in the correct place automatically, using the GPS data.

Another major feature of this release is the introduction of nondestructive brushes. This allows you to paint effects onto certain parts of an image. If you wanted to add polarization to the sky of a photo, you could choose that effect, adjust the size of a brush, and paint the effect on the sky.

Part of the problem with applying effects like this is making sure they don't bleed to other parts of the image. Paulsen said that Aperture 3 now automatically detects the edges in photos, so the effects will only go where you want them.

Aperture 3 also supports HD video, which has become a bigger part of a photographer's workflow in recent years. Using the same engine found in iPhoto, Aperture can now use photos, audio, text, and video to build slideshows, according to Paulsen.

Overall, Paulsen said, Aperture 3 brings a lot of easy-to-use features to a professional-level application.

"The focus of this release is about combining pro performance with iPhoto simplicity," he said.

Apple has been working with several professional photographers over the last few months, getting their feedback and making adjustments to the software before its release. They include National Geographic photographer Jim Richardson, Sports Illustrated photographer Bill Frakes, and commercial photographer Chase Jarvis.

Jarvis told CNET that the full multimedia support was among his favorite new features, especially for his workflow that combines photos and video. "If a piece of software is really good, it just becomes a part of your day," said Jarvis. "Aperture gets a glowing two-thumbs up."

Aperture 3 costs $199, or $99 for an upgrade. A 30-day trial version is available from Apple's Web site.

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