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Friday, August 24, 2007

Getting Pictures into Your Mac

Taking pictures with most digital cameras is a snap. Taking good digital pictures is another matter entirely.
When you press your digital camera's shutter button, images are typically captured onto small (and removable) memory cards. Even as the price of memory declines, the capacity on these cards rises. You can now capture many hundreds of pictures on relatively inexpensive cards.
In the past, it was a challenge to get digital images onto your computer, where the real fun begins. iPhoto drastically simplifies the process.

Connecting a digital camera

In most cases, you run a direct connection from the digital camera to the Mac by connecting the USB cable supplied with the camera. Turn the camera off and then plug one end of the cable into the camera and the other end into the Mac. Turn the camera back on.
iPhoto opens, assuming that you clicked Yes when the program asked you whether you want to use iPhoto to download photos when a camera is connected. (This question pops up the first time you launch the program.) The way iPhoto takes charge, you won't even have to install the software that came with your camera. Given how cumbersome some of these programs can be, that is a blessing.
If everything went down as it should and iPhoto was called into action, skip ahead to the next section. If you ran into a problem, you can try the following solutions:
  • Make sure that your camera is turned on and you have a fresh set of batteries.
  • Because every camera is different, consult the instructions that came with your model to make sure that it's in the proper setting for importing pictures (usually Play mode).

Importing images from the camera

When you connect a camera and iPhoto comes to life, the main screen indicates that it's ready to import images.
To transfer images, follow these steps:
1. Type a Roll Name and Description for your photos in the appropriate fields.
2. Determine whether you want to erase the pictures from the camera after they have been copied into iPhoto.
To do so, select the Delete Items from Camera after Importing option. If you're not sure, you can always delete images directly from the camera later.
3. Click Import.
Your pictures are on their way to their new home inside iPhoto's digital shoebox. The process may take several minutes, depending on how many pictures you're moving over. The time depends on a variety of factors, including the number and quality of the images being imported. You'll see the images whiz by as they're being copied.
4. When the program has finished importing, click the Eject button or drag the camera's name from the source list to iPhoto trash, at the bottom of the source list.
5. Turn off and disconnect the camera.
Seeing double? If iPhoto detects a duplicate photo, it asks whether you're sure you want to copy it over again. Click Import to proceed or Don't Import to skip this particular image. To avoid getting this question for each duplicate image, select the Apply to All Duplicates option.
iPhoto will also copy over movie clips from your digital camera, provided that they're compatible with QuickTime. These videos are automatically transferred in the same way as still images.

Importing images from other sources

Not all the pictures in your iPhoto library arrive by direct transfer from your digital camera. Some reach the Mac by the Web, email, CDs or DVDs, flash drives, or memory card readers. Other pictures may already reside someplace else on your hard drive.
To get these pictures into iPhoto, simply drag them into the iPhoto viewing area or onto the iPhoto dock icon. You can drag individual pictures or an entire folder or disk.
If you prefer, choose File --> Import to Library and browse for the files you want to bring over. Then click Import.
iPhoto is compatible with JPEG and TIFF, the most common image file formats, as well as a photo-enthusiast format (available on some digital cameras) known as RAW.
If you haven't bought a digital camera yet and are shooting 35mm film, you can still play in iPhoto's sandbox. Have your neighborhood film processor transfer images onto a CD or post them on the Web. Given where the film processing industry is heading, it'll be thrilled to have your business.

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