iPhoto scares me, and Lightroom overwhelms - help!

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by rfbriggs, Dec 17, 2008.

  1. rfbriggs macrumors newbie

    Dec 17, 2008

    I am not a photographer, just the family historian/documentarian. I take a LOT of pictures. I am on the Mac platform, and I have tried to like iPhoto, since it's so well integrated with everything else and it's packaged with the OS (although I'm on an upgraded iPhoto 7.1.5 now). But iPhoto scares me - I don't like how much control the program has over file management, and I'm concerned about storing my archived photos in an iPhoto library. And how can I like a program where the only way I can rename a file is to export it, rename it, and re-import it? Yikes.

    So when Lightroom 1 came out at a discounted price, I bought it. It's fine for the management side of things, but it seems like overkill for me, a non-photographer. I have a pretty basic "workflow", if you can call it that. Now I'm wondering if I keep using 1% of Lightroom, or go to some other solution.

    My question is... what would you suggest for me? I don't know about much else (although Aperture sounds like it would be a lot like Lightroom in the overkill department). Do I suck it up and deal with iPhoto's limitations, since it does what I need (mostly)? Or just keep paying for a program that I will never use even a small percentage of?

    Many thanks for reading.
  2. shady825 macrumors 68000


    Oct 8, 2008
    Area 51
    Its better to grow into a program rather than grow out of it.. You'll get the hang of it eventually! Just keep trying different things. I'm with you on iPhoto. I hate it! I never use iPhoto ever!
  3. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Why do you care about the file name and the location where it is stored? You say "scares me". I tink that means you don't understand how it works. The key is to understand it then once you do you will be comfortable with how it works.

    It you don't understand and therefore don't trust the whole concept of "library" then you are really not going to like Aperture or any other manager that uses meta data. iPhoto is the simplest of them.

    I do have one serious question for you and how you answer will say a lot about what program you might like best So here it is: You have a photo of Mary and her dog Spot taken in January 1998 in San Fransico wth the Golden Gate bridge in the background. Now the question... With your folder based system that depends on filenames how do you file the image. By date, under "Mary" or in your "Bridges" folder. The photo is now ten years old and you are looking for photos of "Spot" how would you find this image (No, don't tell me you just remember the date of every Spot photo.)

    The way I see it is that no folder or file name convention can possible help. You may as well just do what I do and name your files img20543.nef, img20544.nef, img20545.nef, and so on.

    Aperture does allow for a much more complex library organization. with projects in folders and albums in folders and so on. But iPhoto allows for folders and albums and the neat thing is that the above photo could be placed in five albums (date, mary, spot bridges and SF) and the actual physical fie is only on the disk once (OK twice, the original and the edited version.) not in five places
  4. MacBoobsPro macrumors 603


    Jan 10, 2006
    iPhoto works the same as iTunes. Let it do its thing and everything will be fine. Renaming photos you just need to double click on the name in iPhoto. Don't worry about what's happening in the background. Once you stop worrying iPhoto is a very good photo archive/management app.

    I have thousands of photos and havent been into my 'photos' folder for years. I let iPhoto do it all for me.
  5. ChrisBrightwell macrumors 68020


    Apr 5, 2004
    Huntsville, AL
    Stick with iPhoto. Learn to trust its file management and you'll be fine. If you're curious to see how everything works on the inside, right click on the library "file" and choose "Show Package Contents" (actual text may vary, but you'll see it).

    As for renaming, why bother? You can edit the meta data on the file, including a title and keywords. Why do you care about the actual filename?

    Another nice thing about iPhoto is that backup is super-easy. Burn the library "file" to a disc (or dump it to an external drive) and you're set. To restore? Just copy that file back to your hard drive, hold the Option key while opening iPhoto, and choose the library file from the Open dialog.

    iPhoto is your solution, based on what you've written here. Learn to use it and learn to trust it (ie., don't fight it) and you'll be fine.
  6. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    Do you make regular backups? Time Machine plays well with iPhoto- so if you're doing the backup thing right, worries shouldn't be more than "how many backups do I have and are they all in the same building?"

    Why do you need to rename a file when you can keyword it and organize it with iPhoto?
  7. aristobrat macrumors G5

    Oct 14, 2005
    I agree with the last few posts.

    I wouldn't worry about the filename of your picture. Once you start adding metadata like ratings and keywords (and then start using Smart Albums that make use of the metadata to automatically update themselves with new pictures), the actual file name of the picture (and where it's physically located on your disk) quickly becomes not very useful.

    As for backing up your pictures, iPhoto is one of the Mac apps that works directly with Time Machine. For example, if you're in iPhoto and notice that an event is missing, you simply click on the Time Machine icon on your dock/menu bar, and then Time Machine shows you every date for which it has a backup of your iPhoto library. You scroll back until you find a date that has the event, select the event, and then click the Restore button. Just that event is restored. You don't have to monkey around with filenames and locations. Lose your whole library? Select all events and click restore.
  8. -hh macrumors 68020


    Jul 17, 2001
    NJ Highlands, Earth
    I'm going to defend the OP here for a couple of reasons, as I've had similar concerns.

    The first concern (and most obvious) is the potential for filename duplication eventually resulting in a risk of lost images.

    For example, I currently have three (3) Canon cameras and as such, they all use the same naming convention. They all started out with IMG_0001.jpg, IMG_0002.jpg, etc. Granted, while iPhoto is taking care of this problem today, iif I were to go out into the Finder and copy the images from their various iPhoto folders into one super-directory, I'd run into problems with duplication of filenames.​

    The second factor is that while iPhoto is good at keeping this duplicate name problem straight today, its still a proprietary product.

    Yes, I know that I can use iPhoto to export to another directory and in doing so, I can do a batch rename of files. But if you want to use iPhoto and try to keep up on a day-to-day basis for filename management, to use this feature then means that you're stuck in the "export/re-import" loop and so forth.​

    The third concern is that one can also have one's camera settings configured to automatically start each memory card over again at IMG_0001.jpg Doing so just makes the duplicate filename problem worse...and as such, I'd recommend against this setting.

    What I've been personally doing to address these concerns is a change in workflow. Basically, what it does is convert to a unique filename before it is imported into iPhoto:

    Step 1 is to copy the images from their originating media onto a local Hard Drive - - typically not the boot drive where iPhoto keeps its data.

    Step 2 is mostly for workflow convenience: I drag/drop so as to combine multiple small folders into larger groupings - ie, put six folders of 100 images each, all together into one folder that now has 600 images.

    Step 3: run Adobe Bridge (Bridge comes free with some Adobe applications) and use this to first do a batch-rename. Bridge is slow and resource pig, but it does do the job. If you don't have Bridge, there's some 3rd party utilities that similarly offer automated file renaming.

    FYI, my current filename technique is: (camera-ID)_(date)_(sequence#).(JPG/RAW). For example, 20D_20060625_0758.jpg tells me that I took the picture with my Canon 20D on 25 June 2006 and that its camera sequence ID# 0758. Now that that body has rolled over (more than 10,000 exposures), I've used this renaming to also keep track of that: the same image today would be templated as: (camera-ID)_(date)_(1)(sequence#).(JPG/RAW). ​

    Step 4 is to tag with meta-data while I'm still in Bridge. If I didn't have Bridge, I could do this in iPhoto, after the below step. Personally, I like Bridge a bit better than iPhoto for this task.

    Step 5 is to open iPhoto, point it at the directory from (#3) above and tell it to import.

    The net result of this is that I'll have two "originals" at this point: one in iPhoto (from Step 5) and one on the HD used in steps 1-4. This gives me some degree of data backup insurance before my weekly automated backup utilities kicks in.

    Using hard drives for backups is the only way to go in the long run IMO...my iPhoto file is currently at around 90GB in size, and I easily have 10-15GB that I haven't yet imported into it yet (still doing metadata tagging in Bridge).

  9. 147798 Suspended

    Dec 29, 2007
    On File naming conflicts: Are you really going to rename EVERY SINGLE FILE? If you are, then don't use iPhoto to import. Use Image Capture (in your apps folder), rename the files, then drag and drop them onto iPhoto.

    But, in general, IMG_6001 in folder Dec 2006 is different than IMG_6001 in folder February 2008.

    For a thread on how to use keywords instead of titles in iPhoto, see http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=556885

    As for LR, if you don't like LR, and want just a better iPhoto, that can better manage photos in external folders, then look at Aperture. But in general, iPhoto will be able to do what you want.

    One suggestion: find a post w/ChrisA as a poster, click on his name to find all his posts, then read his replies re: iPhoto. He has posted many great ways to organize your iPhoto to work for you.
  10. PCMacUser macrumors 68000


    Jan 13, 2005
    Keep using Lightroom, even if you aren't using all its features. Nobody uses all the features in a program like that - and you paid for it.

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