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Apple iPhoto iPad app makes editing and organizing photos easy

Apple iPhoto iPad app makes editing and organizing photos easy

From the moment you install and open Apple’s iPhoto app for iPad, you see an app that’s clean, clear, and uncluttered. It’s simple to use without being simplistic or dumbed down. After using it for a short while, I do have a few quibbles with the app—but overall, I’m quite impressed.

Getting started: When you launch iPhoto, the main page displays one of four sections: Albums, Photos, Events, and Journals. Each allows you to access the same photos in different ways. For example, Photos displays images individually, but Events are grouped by date. Journals, which I’ll get to in a moment, are custom layouts that you create yourself. And Albums are collections of photos.

Although most of the app is well organized and clearly structured, one task I found confusing is creating new albums in the Albums section: You can’t add new albums from within the iPhoto app itself, but you can from the pre-installed Photo app on your iPad.

Access photos from one of four sections: Albums, Photos, Events, and Journals.

You can choose a photo to edit from within any of the four sections. There are five ways to work on your photos, all of which can be accessed in the lower left-hand corner of the Edit screen: Crop & Straighten, Exposure, Color, Brushes, and Effects. Thumbnails are displayed on the left side of the screen. You can adjust the number of columns (one, two, or three) by sliding the bar at the top of the screen.

On the top bar, you can see photo info (metadata) or click a button to show what the original photo looks like. On the bottom bar is an auto-enhance button, which makes image corrections automatically. You can rotate, flag, and tag photos, and mark them as favorites.

The iPhoto app works with JPEGs (up to 36 megapixels, provided you have a third-generation iPad) and various other image-file formats. Although you can import RAW files into iPhoto, it doesn’t allow you to export them: Instead, it displays only the JPEG version of the image embedded in the RAW file. When you’re editing a RAW image, the apps uses the embedded JPEG and saves changes to this JPEG.

Editing, selecting, and creating effects: Like the main interface, the various editing modules have a clean appearance, are fairly easy to use, and apply changes quickly. Apple states that all effects and changes are non-destructive, which means you can always revert back to your original photo.

The iPhoto app includes quick, one-touch tools to make edits and changes. For example, with a landscape photo, click on the Crop & Straighten tool, and iPhoto analyzes the photo. If the app judges the horizon line tilted, it displays a line along the intended horizon line and a button with an arrow at one end of the line. Simply touch that arrow, and the app automatically makes the horizon line level and crops the photo. I tested various horizon lines, and this quick fix worked very well.

Of the other quick fixes, not all worked as well as the straightening tool. For example, I found two way of getting rid of red-eye. One is with the Red Eye brush in the Brushes section (which also includes such brushes as Lighten, Darken, Sharpen, and Saturate). As with most image-editing software, I found that the Red Eye brush worked effectively on some eyes, but not on others. The second way I found to remove red-eye was to tap the Auto Enhance button. This worked well in many cases, but not all.

I enjoyed using the Effects tools—especially artistic, black-and-white, and ink effects. But it appears you can only use one effect per photo. There’s a workaround, though it’s cumbersome: You can export the photos with a black-and-white effect (for example), and then re-import the photo and apply a different effect.

Most iPhoto tools are geared toward general users and photographers rather than enthusiasts and pros. For instance, unlike in Adobe’s Photoshop Touch app, iPhoto doesn’t let you make selections and tweak specific sections of a photo. So, for example, you can’t select a section of red in someone’s eye and then tweak the photo.

Click on the question mark to identify important tools, features, and settings.

Help: This iPhoto app excels in Help features. For example, on almost every screen, you can click on the question mark at the top, and the entire screen lights up with text, identifying important features and settings. When you’re editing photos, clicking on the question mark even gives you directions for bringing up a virtual magnifying loupe (by pressing the screen with two fingers). The app also offers more expansive text on understanding various tools.

Sharing and posting online: iPhoto gives you many ways to share and send your images. For example, you can post directly to Twitter, Flickr, and Facebook. But two sections, the Slideshow sections and the Journals section, are particularly impressive.

The Slideshow feature makes it easy to select and play back images to music. You can play back all images or selected photos with various transitions, including a “Ken Burns” and an Origami theme. Use the included music or select your own.

One of my favorite features in the iPhoto app is the Journal section, which is really a mini-desktop-publishing app. It lets you arrange and display various sizes of your images in a magazine-type format. You can also add in maps, headlines, quote text boxes, and other graphic or text elements. It’s not very sophisticated, but it’s straightforward and easy to use.

One nice aspect of Journal is that if you have an iCloud account (Apple’s cloud storage service), you can upload a Journal creation, then send your friends and family a URL to view the page.

Bottom line: Although it’s not a flawless image-editing app, iPhoto for the iPad provides you with inventive and intuitive tools for tweaking, editing, and sharing your images without getting bogged down in the software. Although Apple could enhance some features and broaden or deepen some tools, most shutterbugs will find this app lots of fun and well worth $5. It requires iOS 6and works with iPad 2 and newer, as well as with other iOS devices.

Adobe Photoshop Touch iPad app is a mixed bag

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