Apple's iPhoto brings all the functions you need for working with digital photographs together in one interface, shown in Figure 12.1, with different modes for Import, Organize, Edit, and Book. You move between modes by clicking the row of buttons under the viewing area.
Figure 12.1. The iPhoto window contains all the settings you need to import, organize, edit, and "book" your photos.
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You may see the option "Share" in the row of buttons under the viewing area. This means you haven't updated to the most current version of iPhoto, which is the one we'll be discussing here. I recommend that you download the new version from the Apple website before continuing.
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Many recent digital cameras with USB connections are compatible with iPhoto. You can find out whether yours is one of them at http://www.apple.com/iphoto/compatibility/.
If your digital camera isn't compatible with iPhoto, Apple recommends using a peripheral device to read the camera's memory card directly. The type of storage media used by your camera dictates whether you need a PCMCIA Flash Card reader or some other kind.
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Those without digital cameras can still use iPhoto to organize digital images sent from other people and to store scanned images. We talk more about importing files into iPhoto from your hard drive later in this chapter.
The iPhoto interface contains several distinct areas, some of which change depending on the current mode. The bottom pane contains mode-specific functions, and the upper-right viewing area takes on different appearances to support the mode you're in. You can resize the contents of the viewing area using the slider to the right of the mode buttons.
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To jump between the smallest and the largest possible display sizes, click on the small and large image icons at either end of the resize slider.
The elements along the left side are available regardless of iPhoto's mode. Let's take a look at them now.
The Photo Library contains all the images imported by iPhoto. Last Import is a special unit containing the most recent pictures. Below Last Import are albums, the special sets of pictures you put together. Selecting one of these items fills the viewing area with thumbnail images of its contents.
Below the Photo Library and albums is a section containing information about the selected item. For example, in Figure 12.1, Photo Library is selected, so the information section displays the name of the selection, the range of dates for the images it contains, the number of images it contains, and the total file size of its contents. It also displays the music currently selected to accompany slideshows, which we will discuss shortly. If a specific thumbnail image were selected, the given information would be the image title, date imported, size of image in pixels, file size, and current slide show music. You can change the title or the date by typing in those fields.
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Additional details about a selected image can be accessed from the Show Photo Info command in the File menu. This launches a window containing information about the image, file, and originating camera. If your camera supports it, the window also contains technical details such as shutter speed, aperture, and use of a flash for the photograph.
There are also four buttons just above the mode-specific pane:
Create a new album ” Enables you to create a special group of chosen photos that you can arrange in any way or export as a unit. We'll talk more about albums later.
Play the slideshow ” Plays a full-screen slide show, complete with music, of all the photos currently displayed in the viewing area. You can alter the slide show settings under the Slideshow option of the Organize mode, including the length of time each slide plays and the song to accompany the slide show ”you can even choose a song from your iTunes folder.
Show information about the selected photos ” Toggles the information area through its different configurations, including one containing a field to add comments about the selected photo. (In another configuration, the info section is hidden entirely.) We'll talk about how you can perform searches on this Comments field in a little while.
Rotate the selected photos ” Rotates the selected items. You can set the rotation direction to clockwise or counterclockwise in the iPhoto application preference dialog.