Posts Tagged Book Review

Review: Photos for Mac and iOS: The Missing Manual

Maria O. Arguello reviews

51XHpF9WPML._SX378_BO1,204,203,200_Photos for Mac and iOS: The Missing Manual by Lesa Snider
O’Reilly Media, Inc
ISBN: 978-1-491-91799-2
312 pages, including a 12-page index
US $29.99
All levels
October, 2015
Rating: Excellent


Maria O. Argüello

Photos for the Mac and iOS were a complete puzzle to me. I replaced iPhoto for Photos when I updated to Yosemite OS X 10.10 as it is part of the operating system. I usually like to try new things, and after all, the Keynote Demo I watched showed some neat features, like its speed and sleek design, that I was eager to try. Much to my surprise it was a completely different interface from iPhoto and I was disappointed to see that it didn’t allow the use of third party apps for tweaking my photos. I muddled through as best I could until I was offered the opportunity to review Photos for the Mac and iOS: The Missing Manual. I hoped this would be the solution to my muddling through frustrations so that I could finally enjoy using Photos.

Lesa Snider has the ability to make complicated topics easy to follow and apply. She is thorough and is a good fit for The Missing Manuals series of books. This was the most enjoyable book I have ever reviewed and I have reviewed several, including another by Snider. She not only offers clear, easy to follow instructions for navigating Photos for the Mac and iOS but she goes beyond by giving helpful key shortcuts on every page. The beautiful colored graphics throughout the book make it uniquely beautiful.

The first third part of the book deals with the basics for getting started with Photos, such as importing pictures and videos, viewing and organizing your images, finding pictures, etc. About 50 pages are dedicated to improving your pictures. The latter was appreciated because I was able to understand what each of the editing tools does instead of guessing. It’s not exactly Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, which sells for $150, but for a free app with a Mac, you can’t beat it.

I decided to look into using folders, which was completely new to me. My Photos Library has over 8,000 photos and a little album organization was called for as there were too many I’d created on a whim. The author covers how to create folders, use folders, and add and remove items from folders. I spent time organizing and creating folders and now it’s a pleasure and a time saver to look for albums and photos.

When I came to the section for Slideshows and Movies, I felt very comfortable since I have created many slideshows in iPhoto. The book completes covering the app with a chapter on Printing Your Photos, Sharing and Exporting, and Creating Custom Books, Calendars, and Cards.

I have an iPad, an iPhone, and an iPod touch; knowing the differences between Photos for the Mac and how it behaves in iOS makes this book an excellent reference for anyone using Photos.

Conclusion: As I followed along it was quickly apparent that I will now have a much more favorable experience with Photos. The book is an excellent reference that explains just about anything anyone would want to know about the first version of Photos. The book strikes a good balance between providing enough basic information for beginners and providing detailed information for the advanced users.

Update: As of this writing Apple released El Capitan for the Mac and has added the use of third party apps and extensions for editing photos in Photos. This is truly welcomed. The iCloud storage prices have also been upgraded from 20 gigabytes for $0.99 to 50 gigabytes for $0.99 a month, plus 500 gigabytes for $9.99 a month and 1 terabyte for $19.99 a month. All plans still get 5 gigabytes free.

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Book Review: Photoshop CS6 and Lightroom 4 By Stephen Laskevitch

Review by Joan O’Brien

Photoshop CS6 and Lightroom 4
Stephen Laskevitch

Rocky Nook Inc. Distributed by O’Reilly Media

List Price: $44.95

With the advent of the digital camera, we have all become, in our own minds, photo journalists, family archivists, nature and portrait photographers and recorders of history but we have a DAM (digital asset management) problem. Since we have no film and negatives any more, all of our digital images are kept on computers or separate disc drives and, hopefully, backed up on more or in the cloud. Now we spend time looking all over when we try to remember where we put the picture of Uncle Herbert’s 90th birthday, the great Hawaiian sunset, a sister’s new house or the grandchild with cake batter all over as well as editing and enhancing those images.

Stephen Laskevitch’s book Photoshop CS6 and Lightroom 4 can be a big help to devise a plan to organize and edit photos. Photoshop, of course, is Adobe’s gold standard for image editing and Lightroom is its data base program that keeps track of photos. Together they make a powerful pair, along with their cousin Bridge, a photo viewer, there is no end to your photographic capabilities.

On page 2 the author says the book is for those who want to learn the basic tools and image editing steps with the two programs to create professional looking images. A beginner or a professional photographer will be equally at home using the book. He takes a very conversational tone as he provides some good background on basic terms and concepts of photography and then moves on to help configure your system for the programs and then gives a hands-on tour of the programs. Each page of the book has a visible color coded margin tab so you can find relevant information about that program. He gives you his reasons for his suggested plan as well as alternatives here and there that might also work. Then he moves on to workflow steps. He uses Photoshop CS6, the latest version from Adobe but his information is applicable to earlier versions. You don’t have to be an expert in either program when you start but when you finish you will feel very confident with your photo editing skills and the organization of your digital assets.

The key to keeping track of digital images is to use Lightroom and the author takes you through the learning curve. Once you understand the terminology, how the program works and what it can do, you are on your way. The first step is importing all of your photos into the catalog in the library module in a way that suits your personal organization or workflow. If you don’t have one, you will need one to get started. Your choice might be chronological or by subject, then you can drop down a notch to months or subtopics and on with more specifics that fit your particular choices. It may take some time to gather your photos from all the places they have been filed, but once you make that effort, each time you download additions to your library it will be much easier and much better organized.

The other trick is learning the value of key words, ratings and metadata so that you can retrieve photos from the catalog in the library module. A picture of the Golden Gate Bridge might include key words, water, San Francisco, boats, bridges, landmarks, etc. Enter any of those key words and you will be able to retrieve that picture, along with any others that fit that parameter without looking through a lot of files and folders. The authors also describes the use of folders and collections.

Lightroom has double value. Along with the organization of your images in its data base, it has powerful photo editing features. Your digital assets can be retrieved and then edited in the development module non destructively. A small file is added to the photo indicating the changes and their history but the original is not changed, ever. Lightroom has photo editing capabilities similar to Photoshop and Adobe Camera Raw so you can organize and edit your work with one stop shopping. Photoshop then is the place to go for more editing and creativity with its powerful features and filters.

The author is very helpful as he describes the concepts and features of the programs and gives step by step directions for using them. It is like having a coach or mentor by your side. The book is well illustrated with screen shots for a clearer understanding of the concepts and directions. If you haven’t used Bridge, you will learn the value of it and it’s photo viewing capabilities. If you don’t know Photoshop well or have forgotten a lot you did know, nearly half the book focuses on Photoshop so the book works well as a primer or as a refresher and with its Lightroom component the book gives you more than enough information in a clear and easy manner to improve or expand your photographic world.

Joan O’Brien

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My Pages book review


Review by Wayne Till

My Pages – a book review

My Pages by Gary Rosenzweig, published by QUE books, 2013. $24.99

My Pages, by Gary Rosenzweig is a thorough examination of Pages capabilities with step by step instructions.

If all you intend to use Pages for is general correspondence and an occasional holiday letter or flyer, the little booklet that comes with iWork and the Pages Help menu are all you need. However, if you want to use Pages for business correspondence, newsletters, brochures, or other more advanced projects, this is the book for you!

The book is well-written with illustrated examples and step by step instructions for virtually any task Pages can handle.

It starts with word processing documents and encourages you create a document and follow along with their sample. It then encourages you to create a Page Layout document, and explains the differences and advantages of each format.

The author then gets down to the features that advanced users are looking for, such as: adding images; wrapping text around images; adding tables headers, and footnotes; creating merge documents; adding hyperlinks; text styles; creating your own templates; and creating charts. The book also discusses Pages integration with Numbers and the Address Book app (or Contacts app).

I’ve used both MS Word and PageMaker in the past, and Pages can handle 75% or more of the tasks those programs can do. I didn’t realize all of its capabilities before reading this book. It is quite amazing for a program that retails for $79! But to take full advantage of Pages capabilities, you need a guide like this one. It is easy to read and easy to follow the examples, and I recommend it.

Wayne Till

My Pages by Gary Rosenzweig, published by QUE books, 2013. $24.99


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