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iPhoto 5: The Missing Manual, Fourth Edition by Derrick Story, David Pogue

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Chapter 1. Welcome to Digital Photography

Apple’s marketing team came up with a cute slogan for iPhoto 2: “Shoot like Ansel; organize like Martha.” Today, of course, that slogan would never fly—and the reference to Martha Stewart is only half the problem.

The truth is, iPhoto doesn’t help you shoot like Ansel Adams, either. In fact, it does absolutely nothing for your photography skills.

But this book will. The first three chapters cover both the basics and the secrets that the pros use to take consistently good photographs. After all, if you’re going to the trouble of mastering a new program, then you should be rewarded with stunning results. Or, put another way: Beautiful pictures in, beautiful pictures out.

Meet Digital Photography

When you use a film camera, your pictures are"memorized"by billions of silver halide crystals suspended on celluloid. Most digital cameras, on the other hand, store your pictures on a memory card.

It’s a special kind of memory: flash memory. Unlike the RAM in your Macintosh, the contents of flash memory survive even when the machine is turned off. You can erase and reuse a digital camera’s memory card over and over again—a key to the great economy of digital photography.

At this millisecond of technology time, most digital cameras are slightly slower than film cameras in almost every regard. Generally speaking, they’re slower to turn on, slower to autofocus, and slower to recover from one shot before they’re ready to take another.

Once you’ve captured a picture, however, digital cameras provide almost nothing but advantages over film.

Instant Feedback

You can view a miniature version of the photo on the camera’s built-in screen. If there’s something about the picture that bothers you—like the telephone pole growing out of your best friend’s head—you can simply delete it and try again. Once the shooting session is over, you leave knowing that nothing but good photos are on your camera. By contrast, with traditional film photography, you have no real idea how your pictures turned out until you open that sealed drugstore envelope and flip through the prints. More often than not, there are one or two pictures that you really like, and the rest are wasted money.

Instant feedback becomes a real benefit when you’re under pressure to deliver excellent photographs. Imagine the hapless photographer who, having offered to shoot candid photos during a friend’s wedding reception, later opens the envelope of prints and discovers that the flash had malfunctioned all evening, resulting in three rolls of shadowy figures in a darkened hotel ballroom. A digital camera would have alerted the photographer to the problem immediately.

In short, digital photographers sleep much better at night. They never worry about how the day’s pictures will turn out—they already know!

Cheap Pix

Digital cameras also save you a great deal of money. Needless to say, you don’t spend anything on developing. Printing out pictures on a photo printer at home costs money, but few people print every single shot they take. And where are most of your prints now? In a shoebox somewhere?

Printing out 4 x 6 prints at home, using an inkjet photo printer, costs about the same amount as you’d pay at the drugstore. But when you want enlargements, printing your own is vastly less expensive. Even on the glossy $1-per-sheet inkjet photo paper, an 8 x 10 costs about $1.50 or so (ink cartridges are expensive), compared with about $4 ordered online through iPhoto. A poster-sized print from a wide-format photo printer (13 x 19) will cost you about $3.50 at home, compared with $15 from an online photo lab.

Take More Risks

Because you have nothing to lose by taking a shot—and everything to gain—digital photography allows your creative juices to flow. If you don’t like that shot of randomly piled shoes on the front porch, then, what the heck, erase it.

With the expense of developing taken out of the equation, you’re free to shoot everything that catches your eye and decide later whether to keep it or not. This is how a digital camera can make you a better photographer—by freeing up your creativity. Your risk-taking will lead to more exciting images than you ever dreamed you’d take.

More Fun

Add it all up, and digital photography is more fun than traditional shooting. No more disappointing prints and wasted money. Instead, you enjoy the advantages of instant feedback, flexibility, and creativity.

But that’s just the beginning, since now there’s iPhoto. Suddenly photography isn’t just about producing a stack of 4 x 6 pieces of paper. Thanks to iPhoto, now your photos are infinitely more flexible. At the end of the day, you get to sit down with your Mac and create instant slideshows, screen savers, desktop pictures, professional Web pages, and email attachments. Shoot the most adorable shot ever taken of your daughter, and minutes later it’s on its way to Grandma.

Photography doesn’t get any better than this.

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