Posted Monday, December 01, 2003

The Turkey? Roasted. The Photos? Burned. How to Use iPhoto to Multiply Holiday Photo Fun

Like millions of other turkeys, I spent the past weekend getting basted and stuffed. I hope your Thanksgiving weekend was just as fun.

And like a growing number of digital camera users, I found myself celebrating the holiday with other digital shutterbugs. There were a total of three digital cameras at my family get-together -- and not one "conventional" camera. It's no wonder film sales are declining.

The fact that a few of us had digital cameras -- and that there was an iMac at my brother-in-law's house, where the revelry took place -- opened up an interesting possibility. By transferring each camera's photos into iPhoto and then burning CDs, we could share each other's shots. At the end of the weekend, each of us would take home not only the shots we took, but a CD containing everyone else's, too. It was great fun, and it's worth doing whenever digital cameras and their owners get together.

Here's how we did it.

Step 1: Shoot Like a Fool
Shooting with a digital camera is always a liberating experience -- you can fire off shot after shot and not fret about running out of film.

But it's especially liberating when you know there's a Mac nearby. When each of us filled our camera's memory card, we'd simply transfer the shots to my brother-in-law's iMac. Once the photos were transferred, we erased the camera's memory card and resumed shooting.

Tip: iPhoto can erase a camera's memory card automatically after importing photos. Simply check the box labeled Erase camera contents after transfer. Don't do it -- a friend of mine once lost hundreds of vacation photos when using this option. For some mysterious reason, iPhoto didn't import the photos, but it did erase them. Ouch. It's better to verify that the photos were imported, and then erase the card using your camera's menus.

Step 2: Rotate and Weed Out
As the weekend drew to a close, we gathered around the warm glow of the 17-inch iMac to look over our efforts. That hideous shot of yours truly gnawing on a turkey leg? Buh-bye. We weeded out a few other less-than-memorable shots, and then rotated the vertical shots to their proper orientation. (Don't forget the selection and rotation shortcuts iPhoto provides: they're summarized on pages 73 and 77 of The Macintosh iLife, and you can see them in action on the DVD tutorial that comes with the book.)

Step 3: Burn
I wish I could say everyone in our family used Macs, but that isn't the case. This meant taking a two-pronged approach to burning.

First, we burned CDs for the Mac users. To do so, I first selected each roll that we imported. (To select an entire roll, just click on its name in the iPhoto window. If you don't see individual rolls, choose Film Rolls from the View menu.)

Next, I clicked iPhoto's Burn button and burned the CD.

As I describe on pages 100-101 of The Macintosh iLife, iPhoto creates a "portable" photo library when you burn a CD or DVD using these techniques. The disc you burn contains original versions of photos, any keywords and titles you've assigned, and more.

That's great when you're burning for another iPhoto user, but it doesn't do a Windows user any good. When it came time to burn the photos for my Windows-using nephew, I took a different approach: I inserted a blank CD, selected all the photos we took, and then dragged them to the CD's icon in the Finder. This process copies just the photos themselves, without the convoluted folder structure of an iPhoto library.

Step 4: Go Forth and Import
Upon arriving home, I inserted the CD that I burned. To add its photos to my iPhoto library, I selected them all (click on one photo and then choose Select All from the Edit menu), and then dragged them to the Photo Library item in the iPhoto album list.

This entire process was a great way to take advantage of the fact that there were multiple digital cameras at work throughout the weekend. We all got shots that we wouldn't have gotten otherwise, and we had fun reviewing them before the burns. And after seeing just how well iPhoto managed the process, my nephew may just be one step closer to getting a Mac of his own.

Let's spend the day together! Attend the iDay 2004 Digital Media Seminar at Macworld Expo on January 9, where I'll be talking digital photography, music, movies, and much more. Get all the details and sign-up now.