Amazing Auto Curves Adjustment in Aperture 3


When Apple added the Curves adjustment brick to Aperture 3, they pulled out all of the stops. In addition to the typical "set a point and drag it" curves dialog, there are two Auto adjustments -- Auto Curves Combined (left button) and Auto Curves Separate (right button). "Combined" makes an auto adjustment based on total luminance without affecting color. "Separate," the flavor that interests me more, also corrects color because Aperture individually evaluates and sets curves for each channel: red, green, and blue. You can see a before and after on the images below (click to enlarge).

Before Curves Adjustment

Master file before Auto Curves Separate adjustment in Aperture 3

Auto Curves Separate Adjustment

Image after Auto Curves Separate adjustment in Aperture 3

For my tastes, I get the best results from this useful tool by going to the Advanced tab in Aperture 3 Preferences, and setting the "Auto adjust Black Clip" and "Auto adjust White Clip" to 0%.


This prevents overly contrasty auto adjustments that have to be manually corrected later. I'm not implying that Auto Curves Separate is always the final solution. But for many images, it's the only global exposure and color correction you many need. It's worth a close look.

More Aperture Tips and Techniques

To learn more about Aperture 3, check out my Aperture 3 Essential Training on Also, take a look at our Aperture 3 Focus Section. Tons of free content about how to get the most out of Aperture.

twitter.jpg Follow me on Twitter


I'd love to see the screenshots of what the actual curves on the brick looked like. I am still trying to wrap my brain around curves and seeing the picture AND the settings might help.

Aperture 3.0.2 update is now out via Software says that addresses Curves as part of the update...perhaps you'll see if the update has any impact on this?

Thanks for the tip of curves. Resetting the Auto adjust points makes a great difference in the result. I had tried Curves earlier, and did not like the high contrast of the result.

When might I expect to see your tutorial on Aperture 3? Apple Pro Training Series: Aperture 3 is due out April 12th. Keep up the great work.

I love this tip but neither Auto Curves button has any effect on the image. I can change the image by manually moving the curve but the buttons don't change anything. Am I missing something here?
Kevin Miller


I also experience the same thing. I think sometime the image won't feel the change because it is not needed.

But I would also like to hear derrick take on it.


I think you are right. I had only tried it on two photos but when I tried it on additional photos tonight, it did make adjustments. Thank you.