Chapter 8. Editing Your Shots

Chapter 8. Editing Your Shots

You can't paint in additional elements, mask out unwanted backgrounds, or apply 50 different special effects filters in iPhoto, as you can with editing programs like Photoshop and GraphicConverter. Nonetheless, iPhoto is designed to handle basic photo fix-up tasks in two categories: one-click fixes and advanced fine-tuning.

8.1. One-Click Fixes

These are the original iPhoto editing tools, the ones that were present in the previous version and are nearly idiot-proof:

  • Enhance . With one click, this tool endeavors to make photos look more vibrant by tweaking the brightness and contrast settings and adjusting the saturation to compensate for washed-out or oversaturated colors.

  • Cropping . The cropping tool lets you cut away the outer portions of a photo to improve its composition or to make it the right size for a printout or Web page.

  • Retouch . This little brush lets you paint out minor imperfections like blemishes, freckles, and scratches.

  • Red-Eye . This little filter gets rid of a very common photo glitchthose shining red dots that sometimes appear in a person's eyes as the result of flash photography. Who wants to look like a werewolf if it's not necessary?

  • Black & White . Turns your color photos into moody black-and-white art shots.

  • Sepia . Makes new photos look faded and brownish, for that old-time daguerreotype look.

8.2. Advanced Fine-Tuning

iPhoto 5 introduces a new floating panel for power users who used to go galloping off to Photoshop every time they needed greater control over photo editing. It includes sliders for these parameters:

  • Brightness/Contrast . These sliders can tone down bright, overexposed images or lighten up those that look too dark and shadowy. While the Enhance button takes an all-or-nothing approach to fixing a photo, the Brightness and Contrast controls let you make tiny adjustments to the settings.

  • Saturation, Temperature, Tint . These sliders affect the overall color of a picture: its vividness, warmth, and color cast.

  • Sharpness . There's no rescuing a completely out-of-focus shot. But this slider can take a photo a few percentage points closer to sharp, orin situations where a traditional photographer might smear a little Vaseline on the lensblur the picture softly to hide your subject's wrinkles and flaws.

  • Straighten . Here's a really fun new control. In one quick twitch of the mouse, you can rotate a crooked shot slightly so that it appears square with the horizon.

  • Exposure . Like magic, this slider lets you fix most over- and underexposed shots, allowing you to crank up the flash or bring details out of shadow.

  • Levels . Using these sophisticated controls, you can compress or expand the lights and darks across a photo's spectruma function that will make a lot more sense when you try it.

For anything beyond these touch-up tasks , you need to manipulate your photos in a more powerful editing programwhich you can easily do within iPhoto, as explained later in this chapter.

8.3. Using the Editing Tools

All iPhoto editing is performed in a special editing mode, in which the photo appears at nearly full-screen size , and tool icons appear along the bottom (Figure 8-1). You enter Edit mode either by double-clicking a photo's thumbnail (the quick way) or by highlighting the thumbnail and then clicking the Edit icon at the bottom of the screen (the long way).

As you may recall, however, iPhoto can take you to either of two alternate Edit worlds . First, there's the one where the photo appears right in the iPhoto window. Second, there's the one where the photo opens up in a separate window of its own.

A reminder: You specify which arrangement you prefer in the iPhoto Preferences dialog box. Then again, you can decide on an individual basis, too. To do so, Controlclick a thumbnail or a photo in its own window, then from the shortcut menu, choose "Editor "Edit in separate window,"depending on your preference. (If you've bought a two-button mouse for your Mac, just right-click instead.)

If you've opted to open the photo within iPhoto's window, by the way, you'll see a parade of other photo thumbnails at the top of the window. Feel free to edit any other photo by clicking its little postage -stamp icon up there (or by clicking the big Previous/Next arrows at the bottom of the window).

Or, if you'd rather hide the thumbnail browser to reclaim the space it's using, choose View Thumbnails (Option- -T) so that the checkmark disappears.

Note: If you're used to the way previous versions of iPhoto handled photo editing, here are three important differences. First, the editing tools always appear in the same place (the bottom of the window), regardless of whether you're editing a picture right in the iPhoto or in its own separate window. Second, you can no longer edit the toolbar; the same set of tools always appears in the same order.Finally, Apple eliminated the mode buttons in iPhoto 5 (Organize, Share, Edit, and so on). As a result, when you're finished editing a photo, either click the Done button (or close the window, if you're editing in a separate window) to return to the normal thumbnails view, or switch to another photo using the arrow buttons or the thumbnail browser at top.

Figure 8-1. iPhoto's editing tools appear in the toolbar when you open a photo for editing. A >> symbol at the right end of the toolbar (as shown here) means that the window is too narrow to display all the tools. Just drag the window wider to show all tools, or click the double-arrow to access the tools via a pop-up menu.