The big picture

Prepare your photos

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One-click color correction

Adjusting the histogram can mean fiddling endlessly with the Temperature and Tint sliders to get colors right. If you don’t have the patience for that, you might be able to get iPhoto to make the adjustments for you. The trick is to use iPhoto’s Auto Gray Balance tool.

Search your picture for an area that should be a medium to dark gray. Hold down the Command key, and click on that area of gray. iPhoto will automatically adjust the tint and temperature for the entire picture. If you don’t like the results, click on the Reset Sliders button at the bottom of the Adjust palette, or use the Undo command (Command-Z), and the image will revert to its original colors.

I sometimes try a few different gray areas and pick the results I like the best. When this trick works, the results are amazing.

Should you go raw in iPhoto?

One of iPhoto 5’s most talked-about additions is the ability to process Raw files. But just because iPhoto can handle this format, does that mean you ought to use it? Understanding the differences between Raw files and processed JPEGs will help you decide.

JPEG versus Raw Most compact digital cameras capture picture data, process the information right away, and write it to the memory card as a JPEG. Equipment manufacturers have worked hard to perfect in-camera processing, so data is transformed into a pleasing photograph. Conveniently, JPEGs are also compressed, so you can squeeze more of them onto a memory card.

Advanced cameras (in other words, expensive ones) often let you save image data in a Raw format as well. Unlike JPEGs, which are written to the memory card as “whole pictures,” raw images aren’t processed at all. You do that later on your Mac, using additional software. Before iPhoto 5, you had to use Adobe’s Camera Raw—included with both Photoshop CS2 and Elements 3—or the program that came with your camera to convert this raw data into a photograph. Now iPhoto 5 offers similar tools.

Unlike with JPEGs, where you essentially reprocess the images when you edit them, every time is like the first with a Raw file. There’s no image degradation. The downside is that raw images are much larger than JPEGs. A high-quality JPEG from a 6-megapixel camera takes up about 2MB. When saved as raw data, the same image takes up more than 8MB. Time to start shopping for memory cards!

The Right Quality Do you need this level of quality and control for snapshots of Aunt Susie’s birthday party? Probably not—that is, unless you plan on making a 20-by-30-inch poster of her blowing out the candles. In most cases, you can continue letting your camera do the photo processing, and focus instead on taking great shots.

When you want the highest quality and most accurate color balance possible—as well as the flexibility to change your mind later—consider using the Raw format. See whether iPhoto supports your camera and click here for more information about the Raw format.

iPhoto keyboard shortcuts

Want to really speed up your iPhoto workflow? Take the time to learn these handy shortcuts. Cut out this list and keep it nearby while you work.
Press These Keys To Do This
Command-, Open iPhoto’s Preferences
Command-N Create a new album
Command-option-N Create a new smart album
Command-I Get information about a selected photo
Command-shift-B Batch-change selected photos
Command-R Rotate selected photo(s) counterclockwise
Command-option-R Rotate selected photo(s) clockwise
Command-D Duplicate photo
Command-shift-E Export selected photo(s)
Command-shift-T Toggle titles shown in thumbnail view
Command-shift-K Toggle keywords shown in thumbnail view
Command-shift-F Toggle film rolls shown in thumbnail view
Command-shift-R Toggle ratings shown in thumbnail view
option-click on the triangle Show or hide all photos within the film roll next to any film roll
click on the film-roll icon Select all photos within that film roll
Command-] (right bracket) Go to the next photo’s Comments field when editing text
Command-[ (left bracket) Go to the previous photo’s Comments field when editing text
press 1 while in Edit mode Zoom in to 100 percent (one pixel on screen equals one pixel in photo)
press 2 while in Edit mode Zoom in to 200 percent (two pixels on screen equal one pixel in photo)
press 0 while in Edit mode Zoom out to normal Edit-mode size for photo
right arrow Skip to the next photo while in Edit mode
left arrow Skip to the previous photo while in Edit mode
double-click on photo Open photo in preferred image editor
Command-Z Undo last action
Command-shift-delete Empty Trash

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