Children and a digital camera make for a photo factory. I have thousands of baby photos. What do you do with that many photos? Guess.
After two weeks of using iLife ‘08’s new iPhoto, I’m convinced that Apple has another home run. No wonder they changed iMovie so drastically.
The biggest noise to come out of Apple’s release of iLife ‘08 was how they butchered iMovie ‘08. Dumbed it down, so to speak. My view is the same as others—it’s different. Get used to it.
The rest of iLife ‘08 didn’t suffer the wholesale changes found in iMovie. Take iPhoto. Please. Is there a better tool for the money to manage your digital photos?
I don’t think so. Apple’s made iPhoto more capable, yet easier to use—loaded with more features, yet not more complex. How’s that possible? Hey, if Dr. Whoo can live in a Police Box, Apple can do the impossible.
The new version of iLife is loaded with surprises that took me awhile to get used to. The first is Events. Granted, it’s a long overdue feature and saves time with newly uploaded images from your camera. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that the new iPhoto also creates events from what’s already in your iPhoto Library. If you’ve loaded photos from your camera 250 times, then you get about 250 events.
If you’ve saved photos that were sent to you via email, and you imported them into iPhoto, say 250 photos total, on different days, guess what? iPhoto makes 250 more events, one for each of the photos you imported from Mail.
Uh oh. I see a problem. It’s not a problem that half a day of editing won’t cure. Fortunately, iPhoto lets you merge, combine, split Events—but you have to go through the editing process to get all your photos where you want them.
Once done, relax, take a break, then ponder Apple’s next big change that will rob you of a few more hours of life. Like trying to edit on iMovie ‘08 after editing on iMovie ‘06. Arrrrgh.
iPhoto has more mature photo editing tools. This I like. Adobe’s Photoshop Elements hasn’t been updated for the Mac as it has on Windows, so I’m in an official Alex Hates Adobe™ mode until the upgrade arrives.
In the meantime, iPhoto has some nice editing tools that make Elements overkill for most Mac users. Retouching photos is not a one click experience. First, double click the photo you want to edit. Then, click the Edit button on the bottom Tool Bar. I don’t know why it’s on the bottom, but it is.
Clicking the Edit button gets you another set of tools on the bottom of the photo and they’re familiar. Effects, Adjust, Enhance, Crop, Red-Eye, and so on. Nothing special until you start to use the tools.
I’ve never liked Enhance. The results are always worse than if I use Effects and Adjust. Oh, that’s where the new magic is. Adjust lets you adjust Highlights and Shadows. My favorite new tool is Noise. Did you know that sliding the Noise bar will adjust the wrinkles on a face that’s aging too fast because of children?
It works. Try it. I’m fond of Shadows, too, as some of my photos didn’t get quite enough light, so it’s easy to remove some of the shadows with the slider bar.
One of the complaints that I had with the old iPhoto was batch adjust mode. There wasn’t one. Instead, any adjustments or effects had to be done one photo at a time. Hey, I have a less-than-two-year-old daughter who knows how to smile.
That means lots of photos that need adjusting.
That’s what iPhoto does in an oddly rigmarole way. Copy edits and paste them onto other photos that need the same edits. It’s not batch but it’s better.
A number of other additions to iPhoto don’t seem to garner the praise they deserve—printing. The new Theme-based Home Printing is a Godsend (Steve Jobs is a god, right? Did this come from him?). The frames and borders and combinations are typical Apple. Graphically stunning and nearly perfect.
There are new additions to the Books and Calendars in iPhoto ‘08. Make sure to up your credit card limit first.
Keyword management is still not where it needs to be. There’s too much emphasis on the Smart Albums, rather than a unified way to enter keywords and manage them on multiple photos. Maybe Albums is the way to go, but I truly miss Keyword Manager, which hasn’t been upgraded (yet) to run with iPhoto ‘08.
The only feature I haven’t devoted much time to is the .Mac Web Gallery. Ron tried it out and it looks beautiful, especially when combined with a web site in iWeb, podcasts from Garageband, and movies from iMovie. Integration is the key theme for iLife ‘08.
Another major disappointment is how my iPhone uploads photos to the Web Gallery. The iPhone’s photo quality looks positively dismal compared to other digital photos in my Library. I’m six months pregnant, with an 18 month-old on a leash, so maybe I don’t have a steady hand.
With the exception of iMovie, iLife has matured over the years. iPhoto ‘08 is still easy to use for newbies, yet packs plenty of needed features for the rest of us. Apple’s integration strategy looks like a funnel straight to the Bank of .Mac. Upload photos, upload web sites, upload movies, upload backup files, upload your money to Apple.