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Aperture 2: The Adjustments Panel

November 20, 2008 by debbie T | Aperture 2Art and GraphicsDigital PhotographyMac Software

This tutorial takes you through a few of the customizations and options of the Adjustments panel. Keep in mind, the Adjustments panel has a set of menus, and each tool has its own menu as well.

Adjustment Tools Menu

By default, Aperture 2 includes only some of the tools in the Adjustment panel. What’s missing? To name a few: Crop, sharpen, monochrome, noise reduction, vignette, etc.

Click the "+" button on the Adjustments panel to view the menu displaying all the available tools or "bricks" as they are called. Some of the tools have keyboard shortcuts.


Add or Remove From Default Set

If you use a particular brick often, you might want to add it to the default set of adjustments. Click the little "wheel" icon on the brick, and choose "Add to Default Set." So now every time you use the Adjustments panel, that brick will be available right away.


If there are some tools that you don’t use very often, remove that brick from the default set by following the same instructions but choose "Remove from Default Set". I removed "Highlights and Shadows" from my default set along with Levels. But I know that they are always still available in the Adjustments Tools menu.

You can also change how the default brick is set by "Saving as Preset" – this is helpful if you find yourself adjusting a brick the same way for most photos. I haven’t utilized saving adjustment presets yet. I guess I like starting from the default setting and working from there.

Remove Adjustments for a Specific Brick

Click the check box at the upper left to toggle the adjustments on and off; this is a great way to view how that brick’s settings affect your photo.

To reset a specific brick’s adjustments, click the little arrow icon. It will remove any adjustments you made, and reset back to the default setting.


Remove All Adjustments

There are some other interesting tidbits found when clicking the little wheel icon (Options Menu) on the Adjustment panel itself.

I love using "Remove All Adjustments" – when I mess around with a bunch of adjustments, and nothing looks right. I want to start from scratch, so I use this option from the menu.


Show or Hide Camera & Color Info

Another cool option I noticed was "Show/Hide Camera/Color info" – choosing to show this option will display values for shutter speed, aperture, ISO, and lens focal length under the histogram. This is easier than toggling back and forth to the Metadata panel!


I had some trouble with this display initially, until I figured out exactly how it worked.

Besides the camera info, it will also display color values. Each set of values switch depending on where your mouse is. If your mouse is hovering over a color in a photo, the color info will display. If your mouse is hovering away from a photo, it will display the camera info.

If you don’t want any color values to display, choose "Don’t Show Color Values" in the Options menu. You can also choose different color options besides RGB. Check it out!

There are a lot of other little tidbits hidden away in Aperture 2’s menu system. Don’t be afraid to experiment and snoop around the menus and options.

There is one comment so far

  1. Excellent tips! You’d told me that sharpen was available in the adjustments, so I found it just last nite, but every photo I’d have to go get it. Now I have that brick available permanently. I was also looking for a rollback feature on the adjustments I’d made, I thought I could on-check it when I really wanted to undo the option. This is really great info. Rolling back ALL adjustments gives me more courage to mess with things too!

    Comment by Allison Sheridan on November 21st, 2008