David Pogue’s Pogue Press is in a rut, a deep rut, and iPhoto 2 The Missing Manual shows it.
The rut he’s is mired in is that he and his fellow authors insist on writing books that are the clearest, easiest-to-understand computer instructional books on the market today. Even though it may be stuck in a rut, the Missing Manual series (12 titles at present) has a perfect formula success, and Pogue is sticking to it.
Pogue, along with Macworld Mac Secrets author Joseph Schorr, and O’Reilly Mac Dev Center creator Derrick Story have co-written iPhoto 2 The Missing Manual. This trio brings a plethora of Macintosh knowledge and photographic experience to the party.
iPhoto 2 The Missing Manual is targeted at the non-geek mainstream user who may be new to the digital photography world. So, rather than plunge headlong into the guts of iPhoto 2, iPhoto 2 The Missing Manual (hereafter referred to as iP2MM) helps the newbie digital camera owner along by devoting the entire Part I (74 pages) to the basics of digital cameras, elementary photo composition, lighting, and editing. If you’re switching from traditional film cameras, the discussion about digicam resolution is a must-read, as it will save you lots of headaches down the road.
Rather than merely parroting iPhoto 2′s menu and commands (that’s covered in a small appendix) Pogue and company address iPhoto conceptually. This knowledge-based approach is one of the best aspects of iP2MM. Many people use iPhoto 2 successfully without having any understanding of the less-than-intuitive structure iPhoto 2 uses for organizing photos, film rolls, and albums. While not grasping how iPhoto’s library is set up won’t cause any rain on your digital photo parade, it does mean that you won’t understand iPhoto’s basic organization. iP2MM‘s clear explanation of the how and, most importantly, why, iPhoto 2 organizes photos the way it does will save future frustration. In contrast, “cookbook-style” books tell the reader the “what,” but neglect the “why.”
Apple has done a great job of making iPhoto day-to-day usage easy enough so the average user won’t need much help with basic editing and printing. But there’s more power lying hidden in iPhoto than meets the eye. I’ve been using iPhoto since it’s introduction, and can get around without unduly embarrassing myself. But count on Pogue, et. al. to provide the lesser-known details about how to edit photos with an external graphics program (Photoshop, Graphic Converter, etc.) without losing iPhoto’s undo capability. That’s a hint that I wished I had years ago!
Printing is one of the less-understood areas of iPhoto. Sure, everyone knows how to hit the “print” button, but fewer people know how to exploit “N-up” printing, or advanced features in the Preview command. Included in the section on printing is a wonderfully clear explanation of image resolution with respect to printing. The authors provide a simple formula for determining the maximum size your image can be printed at for its resolution. Again, a great little tip.
My favorite part of iP2MM is the thorough coverage of how to create and publish a photo book. Having waded through Apple’s less than useless help files, and clicked endlessly on various menu options, I was glad to find a readable and complete presentation on how to create a photo book. Given than photo book creation is one of the best features of iPhoto 2, it’s a crime that Apple has not better documented the process. This lack explains why the Missing Manual slogan is “the book that should have been in the box.”
iP2MM has a splendid section on sharing photos: via iDisk, on the Web, via slide shows with and without QuickTime, and on DVD.
Reviewing Pogue Press’ Missing Manual books tends to be repetitive: all the books have a consistently readable, witty, style. They cover the fundamentals of the topic (OS X, digital photography, Microsoft Word X, etc.) then delve into the application itself. Power-user tips are generously sprinkled in on most pages.
But this stylistic consistency produces a consistently great product: I have yet to read a Missing Manual book that left me unsatisfied. iPhoto 2 The Missing Manual is a welcome addition to the field, and is the best help book on iPhoto 2 currently available.
Conclusion: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
MacMice Rating: 5 out of 5