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ATPM 11.12
December 2005



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eBook Review

by Eric Blair,

Serious Editing in iPhoto 5


Publisher: Books That Don’t Go Bad

Author: J. Kevin Wolfe

Price: $25

Trial: Fixing Washed Out Images, Posterization

Ever since I was a kid, I liked taking pictures. While I’ve certainly come a long way from cutting off heads with a Fisher-Price 110 camera (both in terms of equipment and skill), many of my pictures could stand some improvement. In the past, I’ve looked to Photoshop and Photoshop Elements as my touch-up tools of choice. With iPhoto 5, though, Apple added several new image editing features to the photo organization tool. In my attempt to better use these new tools, I turned to Serious Editing in iPhoto 5.

Serious Editing in iPhoto 5 is essentially a cookbook for manipulating photographs in iPhoto. As you would expect with a cookbook, Serious Editing is broken down into different section: a brief introduction, Color Fixes, Exposure Fixes, Cleaning Fixes, Effects, and tips. The introduction walks through iPhoto’s editing controls, briefly explains how the histogram works, explains different retouching techniques, and presents a baker’s dozen Power User Options.

Each individual recipe contains a description of the problem (for fixes) or effect result (for effects). For simple fixes, like fixing redeye or fixing crooked images, the descriptions are fairly basic. Other fixes, like fixing off-color exposure, have more in-depth descriptions. Also, certain fixes contain followup discussions related to the original recipe. For instance, the recipe for better black and white conversions ends with a discussion on the effect of different tints on the conversion process. Finally, each recipe explains the steps needed to go from the Before version to the After version of each photograph.

25 of the 51 recipes presented in the book are categorized as “Effects.” When I first saw the table of contents, I couldn’t figure out how the author was creating 25 effects with iPhoto. When I think of effects and image editing, I usually think of Photoshop filters, actions, and plug-ins. As far as I know, iPhoto doesn’t offer any of these things. What I failed to remember is that many of these Photoshop features achieve their results by modifying many of the same image attributes that are available in iPhoto’s Adjust palette. 17 of the 25 included effect recipes do just this. Another seven of the effects are a bit more outside the box—they involve working with two images (or creating a copy of the original image), manipulating one of the images, and taking a screen shot mid slide-show. Although these effects can create looks which are otherwise impossible in iPhoto (like warping an image), your end image is limited to your screen’s resolution instead of your camera’s resolution. The final hint involves using iPhoto’s Book functionality to create a collage.

Serious Editing in iPhoto 5 is distributed as an eBook and, as such, has some advantages and disadvantages over a traditional paper book. The main advantage is that the author has promised free updates for anybody who purchases the book. The book also takes advantage of the linking abilities available in PDF documents—the table of contents contains sample images from each fix or effect, and clicking on said image takes you appropriate recipe. Additionally, links to related hints are sprinkled throughout the text. Finally, since the book is a PDF, it’s quite simple to keep the reference on hand whenever you are working with iPhoto.

There are also several downsides to eBooks, and these are also present in Serious Editing in iPhoto 5. My main complaint is that it’s often difficult to keep both iPhoto and the book on screen at the same time. Sure, if you’re editing your photos on a Cinema Display, you’ve got plenty of real estate. On a PowerBook, however, you can find yourself flipping between iPhoto and Preview as you try to work through a recipe. My other comment is that a physical book could include the a CD of the source images referenced in the text so the reader can demo each recipe on an image that’s known to exhibit the issue being addressed. Personally, I didn’t have images that displayed every issue covered by Serious Editing, so I wasn’t able to successfully apply all the recipes. Of course, this issue could also be addressed by making the images available for download.

Before reading Serious Editing in iPhoto 5, I wasn’t aware of any books that specifically focused on iPhoto 5’s image editing capabilities. Having read the book, I now more comfortable with how iPhoto’s new features are supposed to work, and when it is appropriate to use those tools. If you use iPhoto and want to touch up your digital image library, you should check out this book.

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