I've been using iPhotos for a long time. My personal collection of pictures and videos lives in it—mostly that of my family and friends, shot with the iPhone and other compact cameras.
I have also been using Aperture for a long time, mainly for my professional work as a commercial and fine art photographer. Apple's Aperture is where I store and manage the photographs and videos I’ve taken with Nikon DSLRs and other big cameras.
This setup has worked really well for me. I’ve become very comfortable with it.
And then came Photos for Mac OS X.
When Apple officially announced Photos for Mac OS X, it was made clear that it is replacing iPhotos, and support for Aperture will be terminated up until compatibility with Yosemite.
Come El Capitan, Yosemite’s successor, I will essentially only have Photos for Mac OS X to go on.
Though I can still continue using iPhotos and Aperture for some time, this development is an eventual disruption on how I will have to do the back-end of my photography moving forward. And since I take more than a fair amount of pictures almost every day, I will have to rethink and rework the way I handle my visual assets management workflow.
And so, as a professional photographer invested in the Apple system and ecosystem, there’s no question that I have to thoroughly learn how to use and live with the new Photos for Mac OS X.
In general, when it comes to any new software, and perhaps like many others, I start out by intuiting my way around it—clicking a button here and there to see what it can and will do. Many things can be obvious, and many more can be figured out along the way.
I would then comb through any available information from as many sources as I can find, paying particular attention to anything that offers tips, hints and tricks on how to use it, and specially looking out for solutions to things that may have initially stumped me.
But learning how to use a new software this way is inefficient—there is always the possibility of missing out on really important and valuable pieces of information.
Also, by necessity, when it comes to software on which my livelihood is dependent, I feel I will be best served by learning it more thoroughly than simply figuring things out on the fly.
That’s what I did with Aperture. I studied it by the book, eventually getting officially certified by Apple as a Trainer—from the very first and through all its subsequent versions, up to the most recent iteration.
With iPhotos and Aperture being eased out, I thought it best to start transitioning now in a similar way. That’s when I came across Jason Snell’s Photos For Mac OS X Take Control Crash Course ebook from TidBITS.
At 60-pages, this ebook is not too long and not too short. It’s just right—designed and configured to help anyone quickly and easily learn Photos for Mac OS X—in a single sitting, even.
Jason introduces the software with an overall description of what it is, how it came be, where it’s coming from, and what it can and cannot do. Off the bat, his excellent introduction gave me a very good idea of what the software is about.
And since most users of Photos for Mac OS X will be transitioning from either iPhotos and Aperture, with immediate questions about making the move, Jason addresses this concern right away.
In place of the table of contents, the ebook features an informative overview in the form of a Quick Start Guide. The guide highlights links to all the relevant chapters. I find this very useful. I can pick up information that I need right away without having to muddle through the entire book. As a reference, I can quickly zoom into whatever I need to know.
Jason then proceeds to logically to cover the entire workflow—from the basics of importing pictures into the software to all the things it can do—selecting the best shots and marking favorites, editing, enhancing and color-correcting, sharing and printing, etc. As I read through each and every topic, chapter by chapter, the ebook includes helpful, relevant cross-section links to other similar and associated subjects that are more logically placed elsewhere, an easy jump to additional useful information and insights.
The main thing that I like about this ebook is the clarity of instructions and the right amount of details. For one thing, all technical terms are properly decoded so readers like me can easily follow along. I didn’t have a hard time understanding what I was reading.
And though authoritative and substantial, the tone of the ebook is quite informal. Reading it is like having Jason personally teach me how to do things the right way.
One other thing that I appreciate about this ebook is how it provides solid information on most if not all possible ways to do the same things. By expounding on different options, I was able to determine during real-world use, how to best tackle what needs to be done.
In addition, a nice feature is the highlighted bits and snippets presented as boxed info in every page. These have been particularly helpful in minimizing baffling surprises when using the software.
Every page in the ebook is laid out in such a way that readers do not get stumped with long, solid slabs of texts. The main texts are restricted to three to four paragraphs per page, with photo illustrations to visually point out the instructions, a couple of blue boxes to highlight key information, and at the bottom of each page is a selected tip that can be shared and talked about with others through social media.
Because the layout is easy on the eyes, I was able to read and absorb the whole book in no time at all. Each page is designed to help readers get the most important points across in the shortest time possible. After going through the entire ebook the first time, I realized that the overall presentation is actually constructed more as a handy reference that can be consulted whenever necessary. It truly is a “take control, crash course” material.
I’ve read a few manuals and guides, and as a veteran in this regard, I am impressed by the candor of Jason’s writing. He levels with you, for example, in recommending Adobe Photoshop’s Lightroom, long considered to be the nemesis of Apple’s Aperture, as the best current and immediate replacement or option for professional photographers whose work demands a more refined photo management and editing capabilities.
He correctly points out that while current users of iPhotos can comfortably transition and use Photos right away, the same is not quite true for serious Aperture users. The current version of Photos is missing many organizational features and editing capabilities that Aperture users might need. Jason correctly assesses that it would take a few more iterations before Photos can become capable in handling the needs of professional photographers to match that of Lightroom, or Aperture even.
But despite the fact that the current version of Photos has significantly fewer features compared to iPhotos, (and more so with Aperture), Jason makes sure to highlight all the current necessary, important and useful features which makes it a great initial release. With Jason’s ebook, I learned so many details that I would have otherwise missed. It’s a testament to his thoroughness.
Those who are transitioning to Photos will discover, as I have, that one of its biggest draws of the software is its tight integration with Apple’s iCloud, making the pictures available on all Apple devices—the iPhone, the iPad, and also on the Apple Watch. Since this is very important, Jason took the time to explore and explain it in full detail. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever read on photo library integration with Apple’s iCloud.
For me, one of the best part of the book is the last chapter, the grab bag chapter. It’s a collection of helpful bits that Jason put together because it couldn’t fit neatly into any of the other chapter. From this chapter alone, I’ve learned many things.
It’s also quite helpful that Jason shares his own use cases, and how he is adapting his workflow to the new Photos app. Since he provides thoughtful, personal real-life examples of how users like me might also go through the same processes of adapting to the new software, I find this to be quite reassuring.
In the end, I gained a far better appreciation of Apple’s new Photos for Mac OS X after reading Jason’s ebook.
Photography is how we preserve the images of our lives. Even if you’re not a professional photographer, it is important that you thoroughly learn and understand the software that allows you to organize, view, and share those images.
With this $10 “take control, crash course” ebook from TidBITS on Photos for Mac OS X, Jason helps us do just that.
• • • • • •
NOTES: I’m glad Jason Snell chose to publish this ebook through TidBITS. There are 3 significant advantages. First, I like the fact that the publishing system pushes free updates. As the software gets updated, or as new and better information comes to light, the authors of TidBITS ebooks are committed to updating their texts, helping readers keep tabs with all significant changes and developments. Second, the TidBITS ebooks are easily accessible on almost all reading devices because it's widely available in different formats. And third, there's an intelligent focus on social media. While embedding a social media component can be a good way to promote the ebooks, the publisher’s and the ebook’s approach is geared more towards sharing information with others that can lead to meaningful discussions of the ebook's contents in ways that make it more useful.