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  7-18-03 | This column originally appeared in the Houston Chronicle.


The Joy of Digital Photography


By Bob LeVitus

Since adopting a digital camera a couple of years ago, I haven’t taken a single picture with my 35mm film camera. Heck, I don’t even know where the thing is—and I don’t care. Digital photography has won me over with its huge advantages over film:

  • No film cost: I can shoot as many or as few pictures as I like—it doesn’t cost me a penny more to shoot 50 pictures than it does to shoot 5 pictures.
  • No waiting for prints: My camera has a small LCD display (in addition to a conventional viewfinder), which means I can look at my pictures three seconds after I shoot them. And I don’t have to wait even one hour to get prints (as long as I’m near my Mac and printer).
  • Low processing cost: Since I only print the very best pictures, my cost for ink and paper is lower than film processing and printing.
  • Instant photo sharing: Using my account on .Mac (dot-Mac), I can create a great-looking photo gallery in two minutes or less, so I can share two pictures or two hundred pictures over the Web. Or I can email pictures, which is far more instant than the U.S. Postal Service (or even FedEx). And far cheaper, too.
  • Instant photo retouching: If a digital photo is flawed—the subject has a case of “red-eye,” a blemish, or a piece of spinach hanging from their teeth—I can fix the flaw in a couple of minutes.

I use Apple’s iPhoto 2 application as my digital shoebox, which is to say I use it to edit and store my digital pictures (well over 3,000 at last count). It has many killer features and they’re all easy as pie to use. For example, iPhoto’s Enhance button corrects common photo defects like pictures that are too dark or too light, or lack contrast. I just click the Enhance button one or more times and the picture gets better and better looking. Another button lets me correct red-eye with a single click. And there’s a Retouch tool that makes it simple to remove those pesky blemishes.

But the thing about iPhoto that really knocks my socks off is the way it lets you create professional-looking hardbound books filled with pictures and words of your own choosing. And it’s easy to do—just select some pictures, choose a theme and page layout from a pair of pop-up menus, and then add some titles and text if you like. When everything is just the way you like it, click the Order Book button and a gorgeous book printed on acid-free archival photo paper with an elegant linen cover in your choice of colors will be delivered to your door a few days later. Best of all, it’s very affordable, with prices starting at just $30 for the first ten pages.

I take that back. While the price is nice, what’s really the best part is the reaction you’ll get when you present a book to someone. We recently created one for the coach of our son’s soccer team, documenting a glorious season where they placed second in the state!

His reaction was priceless: “This is about the coolest thing anyone’s ever given to me. I will look back ten years from now and remember every little thing about the boys and the season as if it happened only yesterday. I can’t tell you how much this means to me.”

If you have a digital camera, you have to try iPhoto. And you can’t beat the price—it’s free.

IPhoto 2. Free. Apple Computer, Inc.

Bob LeVitus is a leading authority on Mac OS and the author of 41 books, including The Little iTunes Book and Mac OS X for Dummies, 2nd Edition. E-mail comments to [email protected].

Copyright © 2004 Bob LeVitus



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