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iPhoto '11: The Missing Manual

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With better ways to get your photos online and new options for creating printed projects, iPhoto '11 makes it easier than ever to transfer photos from a digital camera, organize them, and publish, print, or share them in maps—but there's still no printed manual for the program. Fortunately, David Pogue and Lesa Snider team up in this witty, authoritative book that should have been in the box.

  • Organize your collection. Discover all of the options for grouping your pictures—by events, in albums, or based on who’s in the photo or where it was taken.
  • Sharpen your editing skills. Learn how to use iPhoto’s beefed-up editing options, including its Photoshop-like adjustments panel.
  • Share images online. Get your photos to everyone on your list by publishing them to Flickr, Facebook, and MobileMe.
  • Dive into creative projects. Have fun building slideshows (with music), gift books, calendars, and cards.

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1. Camera Meets Mac

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Your digital camera is brimming with photos. Youve snapped the perfect graduation portrait, captured that jaw-dropping sunset over the Pacific, or compiled an unforgettable photo essay of your 2-year-old attempting to eat a bowl of spaghetti. Its time to use your Mac to gather, organize, and tweak all these photos so you can share them with the rest of the world.

Thats the core of this bookcompiling, organizing, and adjusting your pictures using iPhoto, and then transforming this collection of digital photos into a professional-looking slideshow, set of prints, movie, web page, email, desktop picture, calendar, or bound book.

But before you start organizing and publishing these pictures using iPhoto, they have to find their way from your camera to your Mac. This chapter explains how to get pictures from camera to computer and introduces you to iPhoto.

iPhoto approaches digital photo management as a four-step process:

Import. Working with iPhoto begins with feeding your digital pictures (and videos) into the program, either from a camera or from somewhere else on your Mac. In general, importing is literally a one-click process. This is the part of iPhoto covered in this chapter.

 

2. The Digital Shoebox

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When you get right down to it, working in iPhoto takes place at three different zoom levels. You begin fully zoomed out, looking at piles of photosyour Events (called Spring Break, Robins Graduation, and so on). Then you drill down into one of the piles; in the main Photos view, every picture appears as an individual thumbnail. Finally, you can zoom in even more, filling the iPhoto window (or your entire monitor) with just one photo.

If youve imported photos into iPhoto, as described in the previous chapter, your journey out of chaos has begun. Youre not really organized yet, but at least all your photos are in one place. From here, you can sort your photos, give them titles, group them into smaller subcollections (called albums), and tag them with keywords so you can find them quickly. This chapter helps you tackle each of these organizing tasks as painlessly as possible.

Even before you start naming your photos, assigning them keywords, or organizing them into albums, iPhoto imposes an order of its own upon your digital shoebox.

 

3. Five Ways to Flag and Find Photos

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The more you get into digital photography, the more pictures youll probably store in iPhoto. And the more pictures you store in iPhoto, the more urgently youll need ways to find them againto pluck certain pictures out of this gigantic, seething haystack of digital files.

Fortunately, iPhoto is equally seething with search mechanisms. You can find pictures by the text associated with them (name, location, description, Event, and so on); by the date you took them; by the keywords youve tagged them with; or by the ratings youve given them. You can also use iPhotos flagging feature to find, and later round up, any arbitrary photos you like.

This chapter covers all five methods.

You can easily track down photos by tagging them with Faces and Places, too. Those features are covered in Chapter4.

Heres a simple, sweet iPhoto feature: You can flag, or mark, a photo.

So what does the flag mean? Anything you want it to mean; its open to a multitude of personal interpretations. The bottom line, though, is that youll find this marker extremely useful for temporary organizational tasks.

 

4. Faces and Places

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iPhoto gives you plenty of ways to organize your pictures into neat little collections. But until the 09 version came along, the only way to organize everything was manually. Manually apply keywords. Manually drag things into albums. Drag, drag, drag.

Now its all different. iPhoto comes with two features that organize your photos automatically. Youd call it artificial intelligence if it didnt seem so much like real intelligence.

One of them uses face recognition to group your photos based on whos in them. It can be extremely handy when, say, you need to quickly round up a bunch of pictures of Chris for that last-minute, surprise-party slideshow. This isnt the crude sort of face recognition that you find in lesser photo programs or even in digital cameras, which can tell you only if theres a face in the picture. iPhoto attempts to go a step further and tell you whose face it is.

You can also round up photos based on where they were taken. You can compare various trips to Paris, for example, or show friends what else you did in Chicago besides go to a White Sox game.

 

5. Editing Your Shots

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Straight from the camera, digital snapshots often need a little bit of help. A photo may be too dark or too light. The colors may be too bluish or too yellowish. The focus may be a little blurry, the camera may have been tilted slightly, or the composition may be somewhat off.

Fortunately, one of the amazing things about digital photography is that you can fine-tune images in ways that, in the world of traditional photography, would require a fully equipped darkroom, several bottles of smelly chemicals, and an X-Acto knife.

OK, iPhoto isnt a full-blown photo-editing program like Adobe Photoshop, but its respectable nonetheless. This chapter shows you how to use each of the tools in iPhotos digital darkroom to spruce up your photosand how to edit your photos in other programs if more radical image enhancement is needed.

You cant add text, make collages, or apply 50 different special effects filters with iPhoto, as you can with more expensive editing programs like Photoshop or Photoshop Elements. But iPhoto is well-equipped to handle basic (and not-so-basic) photo fix-up tasks like rotating, cropping, straightening, fixing red-eye, color correction, special effects (like black and white or sepia tone), edge vignetting (adding a soft white or black oval fade around the photos edge), and tweaking brightness, contrast, saturation, color tint, exposure, shadows, highlights, and sharpness.

 

6. The iPhoto Slideshow

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iPhotos slideshow feature offers one of the worlds best ways to show off your digital photos (and videos, for that matter). Slideshows are easy to set up, theyre free, and they make your photos look fantastic. And in iPhoto 11, theyve been given a dose of steroids. Youll find six new themes that build on the flying, animated visual styles that debuted in iPhoto 09, and they even come with their own soundtracks so the animations and music match. All themes also take advantage of iPhotos face-recognition smartsthey try to center your subjects faces on the screen during the slideshow.

This chapter details not only how to put together an iPhoto slideshow, but also how to create presentations that make you and your photos look their absolute best.

When you run an iPhoto slideshow, your Mac presents the pictures in Full Screen viewno windows, no menus, no borderswith your images filling every inch of your monitor. Professional transitions take you from one picture to the next, producing a smooth, cinematic effect. If you want, you can change or turn off the music that accompanies the presentation (each theme comes with its own soundtrack). The total effect is incredibly polished, yet creating a slideshow requires very little setup.

 

7. Making Prints

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Theres a lot to love about digital photos that remain digital. You can store thousands of them on a single DVD; you can send them anywhere on earth by email; and they wont wrinkle, curl, or yellow until your monitor does.

Sooner or later, though, most people want to get at least some of their photos on paper. You may want printouts to paste into your scrapbooks, to put in picture frames on the mantel, to use in homemade greeting cards, or to share with your Luddite friends who dont have computers.

With iPhoto, you can create such prints using your own printer. Or, for prints that look, feel, and smell like the kind you get from a photo-finishing store, you can transmit your digital files to Kodak Print Services, an online photo-processing service. In return, you receive an envelope of professionally printed photos on Kodak paper that are indistinguishable from their traditional counterparts.

This chapter explains how to use each of iPhotos printing options, including the features that let you print greeting cards, contact sheets, and other special items from your digital photo collection. (Ordering greeting cards, postcards, calendars, and books is covered in Chapter9.)

 

8. Email, Web Galleries, and Network Sharing

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Holding a beautifully rendered glossy color print created from your own digital image is a glorious feeling. But unless you have an uncle in the inkjet cartridge business, you could go broke printing your own photos. Ordering high-quality prints with iPhoto is terrific fun, too, but between printing and mailing, youll spend a few days waiting on them to arrive.

For the discerning digital photographer who craves both instant gratification and economy, the solution is to put your photos onlineby emailing them to others, posting them on the Web, or sharing them with other people on your home or office network.

All of this is particularly easy and satisfying in iPhoto, especially if youre a fan of Facebook or Flickr. And if youd rather send electronic photos directly to your fan base (instead of requiring them to visit a website), youll find that iPhoto 11s new graphical email themes are an unusual and attractive option. iPhoto even remembers each email you send, so you can always see when you sent which photos to whom.

 

9. Books, Calendars, and Cards

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At first, gift-giving is fun. During those first 10, 20, or 40 birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, Valentines Days, Christmases, and so on, you might actually enjoy picking out a present, buying it, wrapping it, and delivering it.

After a certain point, however, gift-giving becomes exhausting. What the heck do you get your dad after youve already given him birthday and holiday presents for 15 or 35 years?

If you have iPhoto, youve got an ironclad, perennial answer. The programs Book feature lets you design and order (via the Internet) a gorgeous, professionally bound photo book, printed at a real bindery and shipped to the recipient in a slipcover. Your photos are printed on glossy, acid-free paper, at 300 dots per inch, complete with captions, if you like. Its a handsome, emotionally powerful gift guaranteed never to wind up in the attic, at a garage sale, or on eBay.

These books ($30 and up) are amazing keepsakes to leave out on your coffee tablethe same idea as most families photo albums, but infinitely classier and longer lasting (and not much more expensive).

 

10. iPhoto Goes to the Movies

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As Chapter6 makes clear, once you select your images and choose the music to go with them, iPhoto orchestrates the production and presents it live on your Macs screen as a slideshow. Which is greatas long as everyone in your social circle lives within six feet of your screen.

The day will come when you want friends and family who live a little farther away to be able to see your slideshows. Thats the beauty of QuickTime, a portable multimedia container built into every Mac. Even if the recipient uses a Windows PChey, every family has its black sheepyour photos will meet their public; QuickTime movies play just as well on HPs and Dells as they do on iMacs and MacBooks.

iPhoto 11 makes it easier than ever to convert those photos into mini-movies. A Slideshow Export option lets you save your slideshows to QuickTime movie files that play flawlessly on iPads, iPods, iPhones, Apple TVs, and other video-watching gadgets. If you want something smaller and simpler, you can also export your photos to a standalone QuickTime movie. In either case, youll then have a file on your hard drive that you can email to other people (including Windows people), post on your web page or MobileMe Gallery for downloading, burning onto a CD, and so on.

 

11. iDVD Slideshows

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Lets face it: Most of the methods iPhoto gives you to show off your prize photos are geek techniques like sending them by email, posting them on a web page, turning them into a desktop picture, and so on. All these methods involve making your audience sit, hunched and uncomfortable, around a computer screen.

Now imagine seating them, instead, in front of the big-screen TV in the family room, turning down the lights, cranking up the surround sound, and grabbing the DVD remote to show off the latest family photos. And just think how cool it would be to send photo DVDs to family and friends who live far away!

Thanks to iDVD, part of Apples iLife suite, you can create DVD-based slideshows from your photo collection, complete with soundtracks, navigational menus, and screens just like the DVDs you rent from Netflix.

This chapter covers the basics of how to bring your photos from iPhoto to iDVD and how to customize, preview, and burn your slideshows once youve exported them to iDVD.

 

12. Screensavers, AppleScript, and Automator

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Youve assembled libraries of digital images, sent heart-touching moments to friends and family via email, published your recent vacation pics on the Web, authored a QuickTime movie or two, and even boosted the stock price of Canon and Epson single-handedly through your consumption of inkjet printer cartridges. What more could there be?

Plenty. This chapter covers iPhotos final repertoire of photo stunts, like turning your photos into one of the best screensavers thats ever floated across a computer monitor, plastering one particularly delicious shot across your desktop, calling upon AppleScript to automate photo-related chores for you, and harnessing iPhotos partnership with Automator. (This chapters alternate title: Miscellaneous iPhoto Stunts that Didnt Really Fit in the Outline.)

Mac OS Xs screensaver feature is so good, its pushed more than one Windows person over the edge into making the switch to Mac OS X. When this screensaver kicks in (after several minutes of inactivity on your part), your Macs screen becomes a personal movie theater. The effect is something like a slideshow, except that the pictures dont simply appear one after another and sit there on the screen. Instead, theyre much more animated. They slide gently across the screen, zooming in or out, smoothly dissolving from one to the next.

 

13. iPhoto File Management

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For years, true iPhoto fans experienced the heartache of iPhoto Overloadthe syndrome in which the program gets too full of photos, winds up gasping for RAM, and acts as if youve slathered it with a thick coat of molasses. And for years, true iPhoto fans have adopted an array of countermeasures to keep the speed up, including splitting the Photo library into several smaller chunks.

Now that iPhoto can manage 250,000 pictures per library, such drastic measures arent generally necessary.

Nonetheless, learning how iPhoto manages its library files is still a worthy pursuit. Its the key to swapping photo libraries, burning them to CD or DVD, transferring them to other machines, and merging them together.

iPhoto discs are CDs or DVDs that you can create in iPhoto to archive your entire libraryor any selected portion of itwith just a few mouse clicks.

The beauty of iPhotos Burn command is that it exports much more than just the photos themselves to a disc. It also copies the thumbnails, titles, keywords, comments, ratings, and all the other important data about your iPhoto library. Burning this valuable information to disc lets you do all sorts of useful things:

 

A. Troubleshooting

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iPhoto isnt just a Mac OS X programits a Cocoa Mac OS X program, meaning that it was written exclusively for Mac OS X. As a result, it should, in theory, be one of the most rock-solid programs under the sun.

Still, iPhoto does have its vulnerabilities. Many of these shortcomings stem from the fact that iPhoto works under the supervision of a lot of cooks, since it has to interact with plug-ins, connect to printers, talk to web servers, and cope with an array of file corruptions.

If trouble strikes, keep hands and feet inside the tram at all timesand consult the following collection of problems, solutions, questions, and answers.

Apples traditional practice is to release a new version of iPhoto (and iMovie, and iDVD) thats got some bugs and glitchesand then, just when public outcry reaches fever pitch a couple of weeks later, send out a .0.1 update that cleans up most of the problems.

Spare yourself the headache: Update your copy to 9.1.1 (or whatever the latest version is)! To do that right now, choose iPhotoCheck for Updates.

 

B. Where to Go from Here

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Your Mac, your trusty digital camera, and this book are all you need to begin enjoying the art and science of modern photography. But as your skills increase and your interests broaden, you may want to explore new techniques, add equipment, and learn from people whove become just as obsessed as you. Heres a tasty menu of resources to help you along the way.

Apples iPhoto support page (www.apple.com/iphoto) features the latest product information, QuickTime tutorials, FAQ (frequently asked questions) lists, camera and printer compatibility charts, and links to discussion forums where other iPhoto users share knowledge and lend helping hands. Theres even a feedback form that goes directly to Apple. In fact, each piece of feedback is read personally by top-level Apple executives. (Just a little joke there.)

VersionTracker (www.versiontracker.com) is a massive database that tracks, and provides links to, all the latest software for Mac OS X, including the cool iPhoto add-ons described in this book.

 



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