Aperture – Potential Dangers of Using Stacked Images

All of my RAW master images are stored in my Aperture database as referenced files. This means that the original master RAW files reside on a separate disk system rather than in the Aperture Library itself, with my Aperture application itself and the Aperture Library residing on my main MacPro system disk. This has many advantages of maintaining your Aperture Library to a reasonable size, particularly when your image database system becomes very large. I have about 15 years of digital photos plus earlier digital scans of my 35mm and film camera photos stored in my Aperture system so the file system is quite large by now.
Recently I went through an annual offsite backup and tidy up of my Aperture system and decided to relocate all of my master files except the current year onto an external RAID disk to free up space on my internal Mac Pro RAID disk where all the referenced files used to be located. Aperture allows you to easily relocate master files so after choosing all files in the projects I went through the relocation process to the new external RAID disk. 
Relocate Originals
It was only after this process I noticed an apparent discrepancy in the expected file sizes on the new disk volume. On further investigation I noticed that there were many master images which could not be located – as indicated by the dreaded yellow arrow icon on the image – meaning that the referenced master image could not be found.
Referenced image cannot be found
I suddenly realised that because I use stacks within Aperture to group together image files (in my case I usually group together my multiple bracketed shots as well as multiple images used to create panoramas) all of the missing masters were within stacks. It became apparent to me that unless you open all stacks prior to the relocation of masters then only the stack “image pick” within the stack is relocated.
Stacked images
Thankfully I had a full backup on another external disk system so I then had to go through the process of relocating the missing master images on this backup disk and then regenerating my original referenced library file system.
So a warning to anyone using stacks that before any file manipulation such as copying, relocating masters, etc ensure that ALL stacks in your Aperture project or library are open to ensure that all images are copied or relocated. Otherwise you may not notice that these referenced files are missing and you may then potentially lose these master images for ever.

3 thoughts on “Aperture – Potential Dangers of Using Stacked Images

  1. Very good point. The same happens when I'm geotagging my pictures using places, if the stack is closed, geotag won't be applied to the hidden pictures.

  2. Rafael and Bob – many thanks for your comments.

    Bob – I don't think this is a bug but it's simply the way that stacks are meant to work. You just need to be very clear and careful on whether you wish your file operation to work on the stack picks only or all the images in a stack.

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