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iPhoto 4 – The Missing Manual

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David Pogue, Derrick Story
Pogue Press / O’Reilly 2004

The latest collaborative effort of Pogue Press and O’Reilly is much more than just a step-by-step guide to using iPhoto 4 and goes way beyond the “The Missing Manual.” No, this book is a well-structured and (most importantly) useful guide to digital photography, with broad appeal to photographers of all levels.

One thing that makes me cringe when I look at snapshots and amateur photographs is how much better they could be, if only a few simple rules were followed. The basics of photography are just that, basic. The first section of iPhoto 4: The Missing Manual is dedicated to teaching the reader how very simple techniques can translate into awesome photography. The examples are practical and can quickly be put to use.

One of most useful topics covered in the first section of the book is how to use light to your advantage. Story and Pogue cover fairly extensively (considering the book is on iPhoto 4) how to use available light and flash to achieve well-lit and properly exposed images.

The only drawback of having such a focus on image creation is their reliance on strictly black and white printing. It is difficult to see the subtle effects they are describing. Keeping in mind the extraordinary cost of printing full color (and the subsequent increase in cover price), I think the readers would have better served with at least some color images to better represent some of the techniques that were covered.

Of everything in the first section of the book, the most surprising was the two-page write-up on Cameraphone Photography. Going with the classic saying “the best camera is the one you have with you,” Pogue and Story give a short, but helpful look at what camera phones can do and how to make the best out of very poor optics and resolution.

Covering every last brushed metal corner of the iPhoto application, iPhoto 4: The Missing Manual spends a considerable amount of pages on what I consider to be one of the most difficult stages of your digital photography experience (much to the benefit of printing services): printing your images.

Have you ever tried to print your photos? Believe me, it’s not something that you get right the first time. I’ve wasted countless pages of fairly pricey high gloss photo paper trying to print my digital images. Dedicating almost 20 pages to printing, the authors do a huge service to their readers. In the event that some leave the chapter discouraged, the last page is all about how to order prints online.

While certain parts of the manual are geared towards basic computer users, who simply want to learn how to transfer their digital photos from camera to computer, there are also some nice bits of useful information for the more experienced user. A little geekier than the rest of the book, the AppleScript Tricks section of the book attempts to show the user how to use the powerful Apple scripting language to automate iPhoto and other imaging applications.

In the end, iPhoto 4: The Missing Manual is…wait for it…a manual. With a complete index in the back of the book, major topic areas, terms and features of iPhoto and digital photography can be easily referenced and found. The book is set up to appeal to both the complete amateur and also the more experienced photographer, offering enough hints, advice and solid technique to easily sweep away your weekend.

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About Ryan Irelan

  • Excellent review. It’s books like these that are hard to get a feel for when thumbing through them at Borders, but you summed it up pretty well.