Review: iPhoto 2: The Missing Manual (book)
Price: $25 (list)
Requirements: iPhoto 2
Trial: Sample Chapter
O’Reilly & Associates, Inc. has long been known for its outstanding technical manuals for Unix, Linux, networking, programming, and Internet-related protocols and languages. Since Mac OS X arrived on the scene, O’Reilly has embraced the new operating system. Partnering with long-time Mac author David Pogue, they created the Pogue Press imprint and the Missing Manual line of books. For while Apple and Microsoft have created some empowering software for Mac users, documentation on how to use those applications is rather scarce.
As part of its Digital Hub strategy, Apple released iPhoto as the “digital shoebox” for digital photos. The problem is, there’s not a lot of material in the Read Me or from the Help menu that lets the average user fully exploit the application’s abilities. Enter the Missing Manual line, and a book for iPhoto.
I was a budding photographer in high school. I worked on the yearbook staff, took tons and tons of black-and-white photos, and learned to develop them in our school’s darkroom. Unfortunately, I left those photography roots behind when I graduated from high school, and did not get the photo bug again until three years ago, when, with the purchase of a Nikon Coolpix 950, I began to explore the world of digital photography.
Organization of my digital photos has consisted of dumping them into designated folders, such as “Pets,” “Christmas 2001,” “Hawai’i 2001,” and others inside my Pictures folder. If I wanted to view any of the pictures, well, that’s one of the many reasons I’m a registered GraphicConverter user.
Enter iPhoto, which allows one to both organize and view digital snapshots in one handy package. Best of all, it’s free, though you need to be using Mac OS X. Right about the time I decided to start using iPhoto (after the program’s 1.1.1 release), O’Reilly published the previous edition of the Missing Manual series. I was immediately hooked into using the program, through the clear and witty writing of the book’s three authors. This latest edition for the latest version of iPhoto continues to inspire and doesn’t disappoint.
The book is divided into four sections:
1. Welcome to Digital Photography
To me, this section is worth the price of admission alone. I read through this section of the book just before my trip to the Garden Isle of Kaua’i last year, and the tips and hints offered made a tremendous difference in the quality of my shots. Before even getting into the basics of iPhoto, the authors choose to lean heavily on Derrick Story’s photography knowledge and distill that into a book within a book. (Methinks a non-iPhoto user would benefit greatly from Story’s Digital Photography Pocket Guide.)
Types of digital cameras are discussed, taking into account users’ needs and wants, and tips and tricks are offered to enhance the digital photography experience. I find myself reading through this section again and again.
2. iPhoto Basics
Digital photography tips are great, but you’re buying this book to learn to use iPhoto effectively, right? Pogue and company do not disappoint. The second section is an overview of the application, discussing the compilation and organization of digital photos within iPhoto. The authors discuss iPhoto’s controls, complete with screenshots and diagrams, as well as how to get pictures from the camera into iPhoto.
The iPhoto Library, the core of the digital shoebox, is explained and discussed. The authors talk about organizing photos into film rolls, as well as sorting and displaying through multiple rolls. They cover giving photos titles, sift through the photo Info panel, and walk the reader through adding comments, yet another variable by which film rolls can be searched.
Even though the digital shoebox is full of individual rolls, users can create their own albums in iPhoto, and the Missing Manual authors spend a great deal of time discussing all aspects of iPhoto albums.
The last chapter of this section is devoted to editing photos. Cropping, brightness and contrast, red-eye, and black-and-white are all covered in great detail, as the authors guide the reader through iPhoto’s tools in each of these areas. I converted about two dozen photos from my Kaua’i trip using the black-and-white feature, and it brings out a very Ansel Adams-like quality to the landscape shots. Finally, they cover how to use external applications, such as Adobe Photoshop, to edit digital pictures.
3. Meet Your Public
Now that you’ve got your digital photos imported, organized, and edited, what are you going to do with them? Show them off, of course! With iPhoto, this is possible in many ways. The first chapter of this section covers the iPhoto Slide Show, handy for showing off pics in a montage, with its own soundtrack.
Chapter 8 of the book is all about making prints, and it runs the gamut from doing it yourself to ordering online. The authors thoroughly discuss the do-it-yourself print process, noting paper grade, printer types, and print sizes. This is a great complement to the first part of the book; the authors seek to assist the reader in getting the best picture possible, from the time it is taken, to the moment it is printed.
This section of the iPhoto Missing Manual also covers e-mailing photos, posting them online via .Mac, and exporting from iPhoto in to HTML for publication on your non-.Mac Web site. Pogue and company look at third-party utilities that enhance the latter, and offer tips on burning what they call “Pro-Caliber Photo CDs.”
4. iPhoto Stunts
As you become an iPhoto power user, you will want to extend your abilities, perhaps by building a custom screen saver or myriad desktop pictures. I have all but given up on collecting third-party screen savers for OS X, since I created two custom screen savers of of my own: one from our Kaua’i trip, the other of our infant son. Switching between the two keeps me happy, and draws pangs of jealousy out of the Windows users at work, as well as the one at home I share my life with.
In this section, you will also learn how to export your pictures from iPhoto, including how to get them on to your Palm organizer! The authors also explain how to extend iPhoto’s abilities through AppleScript.
Finally, an entire chapter is devoted to iPhoto’s file management, with attention to building and burning iPhoto CDs and DVDs, as well as making backups and disk images. The authors delve in to managing multiple iPhoto libraries, a must for someone like myself with enormous amounts of digital pictures. (Budding digital photographers will soon learn that you take a lot more photos with a digital camera than you would with film.) Again, there are manual ways to do this, but the authors note third-party software that assists in this area.
I’m still getting to know iPhoto, but I’m getting to know it faster and easier thanks to Pogue, Schorr, and Story, and this outstanding volume in the Missing Manual series. If you’re serious about using iPhoto as your own digital shoebox, this book is a must-have.