Apple Photo Books
There is nothing quite the same as a picture in print. Seems like print media is in its death throw in many respects these days but when it comes to nature and wildlife photography print still rules. As a life time student in the quest to make great prints I have been testing all sorts of print media, gloss, matte, metallic, canvas and so on. Outputting an image for any kind of print is a lot more complex than I thought it would be. It may be a little tough to wrap your brain around but try to think of it this way: An image on your computer monitor is backlit and that makes everything look great with nice bright colors and contrast. Light travels directly from the monitor to your eye illuminating the image along the way. Looking at a print image there is no light behind it, actually what you are seeing is light bouncing off the image. That light has to come from a source like the sun or a lamp, reflect off the image and travel to your eye. All things being the same a print image should never look the same as a digital version. The challenge is to know how to adjust the image you are seeing on a computer to have it look the same in print. There are those who have devoted entire careers to the craft.
For a long time I have been wanting to do a picture book. I looked at a few services and Adobe In Design, but I decided to try Apples book service. You may not know it but if you own a Mac chances are that you already have the software you need installed in iPhoto or Aperture. I used iPhoto because I don’t use Aperture. Fact is that I don’t use iPhoto either so I had to import the photos I wanted to use to the application. That was the biggest hassle of the whole process. Right off the bat you have choices, paperback, hard cover, or wirebound, there are different sizes that have seven themes and five different color layouts. On each page you have the option of several photo layout combinations that can include text boxes. One of the biggest criticisms I have is that the text boxes are rather limited in size, location and font. But since you can include text on each page if you wish it is not really that big of a deal, after all it is a photo book! If you are really set on more text diversity you can always create a PDF of photos and text you need and insert in to a blank page. The application layout is beautiful in keeping with the Apple iBook bookshelf theme found in other applications.
While I took a couple of weeks to assemble my book, inserting photos and arranging them is about as easy as it gets, just drag and drop. The truly remarkable thing, and the one thing that really sets it apart from other applications, is the ability to do pretty extensive editing to photos. Basically, you are round tripping through iPhoto but the experience is seemless and you have a wide array of edits available ranging from crop and resize to color correction.
Quality is the usual Apple experience, beyond expectation. When I received my book I thought some one had screwed up and sent me a Macbook Air by mistake. Packaging holds the same standards as all Apple products and is impeccable. Quality of print is really good also, I am not sure what kind of correction the printer does but the results are rich and colorful, better than any production print book I have seen. I purchased a hard cover, the binding was perfect and the cover page was printed on both the hard cover and the dust jacket. Pricing is reasonable depending on the size and binding. Ten pages are included and additional up to one hundred are a by page fee. In all I bought a hard cover with twenty-two pages and the total was $37.00 including tax and shipping. Very reasonable for me.
Overall I think the Apple Photo Book service is outstanding just too bad it is only available to apple computer owners.
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