IPhoto’s Greatness

So what’s so special about IPhoto found in the Mac computers?

I was doing a two-hour hands-on workshop with a client who was confused about how IPhoto worked in her new MacBook Pro. Can’t say I can fault her because some of the fundamentals of software programs like IPhoto aren’t readily obvious. That’s where a two-hour consult with someone who can teach this stuff is so valuable. It can save you weeks or even months of frustration or worse the loss of some of your photographs.

For more information on my consulting services, please visit my other site at Social Media Made REALLY Easy. If you’re within driving distance of Oakville which is west of Toronto, I’m available to come to you and work in your office with your software.

Here’s what makes IPhoto so neat. While IPhoto can import and edit RAW files (unprocessed and uncompressed files that require editing software to create snappy JPG images suitable for viewing, printing or publishing online in suitable sizes for each) it’s forte is the storing and editing of JPG photos.

So why shoot RAW and why shoot JPG? In brief, RAW files allow photo enthusiasts virtually unlimited abilities to change the parameters of the image (colour, brightness, white balance, sharpness, noise reduction and much more). JPG images have all the parameters burnt in by the manufacturer so while you maybe able to manipulate them slightly, there isn’t the range and control that RAW offers.

So why shoot JPG at all? For vacation photos or commercial special event shooting (where it’s easy to shoot thousands of images) or newspaper sports photography shooting in JPG format can create snappy printable and publishable images without the need for hours of time behind a computer working with photo editing software like Photoshop. I shoot a lot of my commercial work in JPG format solely to take advantage of the reduced time factor.

But I do shoot RAW when I’m either shooting indoors under artificial lighting (like fluorescents) where I might want to change the white balance to make the images look more true to colour or when the client says they might want to use the images for commercial printing in brochures or annual reports.

BTW almost all software will allow you to take all your RAW images and batch process (in other words do them all at once) JPG copies. Many cameras will allow you to shoot JPGs and RAW images simultaneous (for immediate viewing for example and detailed printing later). However most point-and-shoot cameras struggle to capture RAW images (often taking several seconds to send each image to the memory card) making JPG photography just that more practical for the holiday shooter.

So let’s get back to IPhoto. If IPhoto is your only photo editing software then it makes sense to go into the Preferences file and go to the command “Connecting camera opens: …” allowing you to set IPhoto or another photo editor to open when you plug in your camera or insert a memory card into the computer.

IPhoto stores all the imported images in one main file folder called “Events”. Here IPhoto creates individual sub folders that it names by dates of your imported images. I’m not going to get into all the details here but suffice to say you can change how IPhoto files images to suit you. The neat thing is all of your images are now in one place and even better, if you bought Mac’s Time Machine which is a wireless terabyte remote automatic storage device that includes a WiFi transmitter, you’ve got all of your images from IPhoto backed up. This is very cool – not cheap – but very very important.

Think of the Events folder as a multi-draw filing cabinet. All of your images are inside the cabinet filed away in separate file folders identified by IPhoto by date. That’s nice but what if you want to file all of your photos of your garden in a one place? Right now they are filed in many different folders created over the years you’ve been shooting photos and bringing them into IPhoto. That’s were the folders called “Albums” comes into play. Here you can drag images from your “Events” folders and place them into a specifically named Album called garden.

Now here’s the trick: The images aren’t really in a folder called “garden”. The images remained right where you started back in their “Events” files. What shows up in the Album folder called garden is a reference file that tells the computer where the actual image resides. The computer creates a little duplicate image in the garden folder of the image (which really never left the Events folder) only so you can see it and all the other images you dragged into the “garden” file.

So if you erase any Albums like “garden” you haven’t deleted any images (as they remain safe in their Events file) but only a computer generated duplicate that points back to the actual original. Now if you delete any images or folders from your Events folder the images and folders are actually deleted. (Remember that if you’ve got Time Machine working all of your images, folders and, in fact, all the data on your computer is safely stored away on the remote device. This means if somebody breaks in and steals your MAC so long as they don’t get the Time Machine you’ve not lost any of your data.)

IPhoto can do tons more stuff like photo editing, filing images and automatically posting images to Facebook and Flickr but that’s enough for now.

Wait until we get to face recognition 🙂 and setting up a slideshow and making a calendar or even a book! Cool stuff.



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