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Posted at 2:15 AM ET, 12/16/2010

What do you do with your photos and videos?

By Rob Pegoraro

This weekend's column will assess two software bundles you're likely to find on a new computer: Microsoft's Windows Live Essentials 2011 (free for Windows Vista and 7) and Apple's iLife '11 (free on new Macs, $49 otherwise as long as you run the 10.6 "Snow Leopard" release of OS X).

ilife11_box.jpg

Both of these suites cover a wide range of tasks, but I will focus on the core areas that have figured into past reviews: photo and video editing.

The catch is, there's no one kind of photo or video work. At one extreme, you have the sort of production and tinkering that takes place in professional programs like Adobe's Photoshop or Apple's Final Cut Pro. At the other extreme, think about what people click through in free or nearly-free programs on their own time -- or lack thereof.

Windows_live_logo .jpg

Historically speaking, I've been closer to the enthusiast end of that spectrum. Almost three years ago, I described my typical process with a batch of vacation photos in iPhoto as such:

* Rotate the picture to the proper horizontal or vertical orientation (usually unnecessary, now that cameras do this automatically)
* Enhance (most of the time, this doesn't yield a notable improvement, but some shots get distinctly better with this automatic fix)
* Fix red-eye artifacts (again, some cameras now do this by themselves)
* Straighten (I am apparently incapable of holding a camera parallel with the horizon)
* Crop
* At this point, I'll click iPhoto's "Adjust" button and play with the slider controls to fine-tune exposure, lighten shadows and reduce noise.

Do I still take that much care with photos? No way. The arrival of our daughter has increased the number of photos we take -- many, I should say, adorable beyond belief -- and decreased the time we have to do anything with them. These days, I'm doing well if I actually write a title for each album, let alone caption each picture.

Anyway, back to the column in progress. I'm not going to have space to cover everything that just iPhoto and iMovie or Windows Live Photo Gallery and Windows Live Movie Maker -- let alone the other programs in iLife '11 and WLE 2011 -- can do with your media. I need to focus on their most important capabilities. You can help me out here: What are the things you usually do with your pictures and videos? What would you like to do with them, but can't or don't know how to?

By Rob Pegoraro  | December 16, 2010; 2:15 AM ET
Categories:  Pictures, Video  
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Comments

I store them on my PC. Within the My Photos I cateogrize folders by year and then by month unless they're older scanned things and then I have holders outisde of the year folders with names like "old family photos" or "2003 trip to Italy."

I'd like an easier way to pull all photos of a certain person or topic up. Actually, what I'd like is a less laborous way of tagging incoming photos so they can be retreived later.

I sometimes cut and paste people in photos so I can create photos of my entire family. I love the Windows Live advertisement where she effortlessly takes the errant kid out of a photo and replaces him with a better expression.

If I print I take them to Target or CVS where the printers always have all the toner colors at once. Mostly I post photos to the blog I run to keep my family up to date or to facebook.

No smiles leave my hard drive that have not benefited from a little teeth-whitening and I've been know to adjust a few wrinkles as well. I sometimes paste backgrounds over things I don't want in my photos. The auto-adjust slide tends to discolor faces so I avoid it.

Since I've seen the Windows Live ad and been interested I'd like to hear more about that.

Posted by: RedBird27 | December 16, 2010 6:05 AM | Report abuse

I do pretty much the same as you, Rob. Get them into iPhoto, give the event a title and take care of rotating, cropping and editing quickly. I often post a few of the event photos to my flickr account for friends and family. This also gives me another place to store the photos. Beyond that, the photos stay in iPhoto. They are easy to find, email, and view according to event titles and dates. I like the faces feature in iPhoto, so I can find photos of specific people easily. I run Time Machine weekly, to assure a backup.

Posted by: rjrjj | December 16, 2010 7:13 AM | Report abuse

i usually keep all my pics on Picasa. But, I just bought a bunch of eye-fi cards to give as xmas gifts (and one for myself). Do you have any comments on how well (or not) they work? It seems like such a cool idea to be able to wirelesly send the pics from the camera to Picasa (or elsewhere!).

Posted by: pjsmith1 | December 16, 2010 7:13 AM | Report abuse

Store them on the hard drive by year, month, and event or day. i.e. /2010/11_November/Thanksgiving. Cull the bad ones. The ones I want to share with friends and family I upload to Flickr.

Sometimes I'll do some basic editing in Photoshop Elements.

Posted by: wiredog | December 16, 2010 7:29 AM | Report abuse

I import all photos to iPhoto and tend to follow your procedure. I've got Aperature, but haven't used it yet.

What would be helpful would be a discussion of off-computer storage of the photo data base as a way of freeing up hard drive space on the home machine...how to do it, how it effects the use of whatever photo program your readers might utilize and the pros and cons.

Posted by: seahawkdad | December 16, 2010 7:33 AM | Report abuse

I store them on my PC with somewhat less than ideal organization, but kept in folders by subject/event. I tend to not filter out the bad shots/poses which can end up taking up a lot of disc space. I have a large culling job for some snowy day.

For most adjustments, I use the Photoshop-like free Paint.net (which is an app on your PC, not in the cloud) which is a little more user friendly than Photoshop. It is a free download, but does everything it needs to do for non-professionals I think.

HP's Image Zone s/w, which I got with a camera I used to have, does a great job with red-eye. PhotoShop 9 and Paint.net make it a lot harder to do I think.

I do the auto-adjust which can be an incredible improvement, or not, and I'm not sure what makes the difference.

In the end, I post a lot of them to my Facebook page, which I think is my favorite thing about FB. Easily sharing pics with friends, and seeing their pictures is great.

Posted by: tojo45 | December 16, 2010 7:58 AM | Report abuse

Picasa seems to be the best options for us. I store all the files on my Windows laptop, mange with Picasa, and edit/upload the best ones to Picasa Web (debating paying for more storage...thoughts on that?). My wife has Picasa on her Macbook, so ideally we should be able to sync via Picasa Web so she can download them to her machine, we just haven't figured out the best way to do that yet.

Might be worth in yoru article talking about file backups or online storage. We had an external backup drive used for Time Machine seize up on us, so relying on those alone isn't a perfect solution. Backups of a backup anyone?

Posted by: db_in_va | December 16, 2010 8:53 AM | Report abuse

I collect them onto a hard drive and load them into Picasa so that I can categorize them by directory. Sometimes I make backups of them. They are pretty much never looked at after they are taken. My sister always asks me why I'm always taking pictures because I never do anything with them.

Posted by: slar | December 16, 2010 9:16 AM | Report abuse

I upload them daily to iPhoto, and name the event by the date e.g. today is 10 12 15. I also have a smart album called 2010 that has all photos with the '10' keyword/tag. I immediately delete all the iffy ones. I do digital scrapbooking so from there I go to PhotoshopElements 8 and play around with them a bit. Sometimes I do a minor edit in iPhoto, adjusting the lighting, if I feel that will make it good enough for me.

I use the keywords in iPhoto a lot and trips are also made into iPhoto albums and then burned to a dvd.

New baby? first thing I suggest is getting a new ehd to store all the pics you will be taking. :)

Posted by: cookingmylife | December 16, 2010 9:20 AM | Report abuse

like seahawkdad, i'm very interested in help/advice/instructions re off-computer storage of photos. i've heard horror stories about whole libraries getting lost/corrupted during transfer. as things stand now, iphoto is eating up my hard drive. i have iphoto backed up on time machine, and some of my photos are in smugmug galleries, but i feel i need a dedicated hard drive solely for all photo storage before i remove anything from computer...but i'm a technical idjit and very nervous about how to do all this the right way. thanks!

Posted by: yerself | December 16, 2010 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Two main things:

1. Storage/organization: photos are now in folders, but I would like a way to organize them by tagging with keywords etc. *in a way that is program-OS independent* so that I don't lose all that work if I switch to different software.

2. Editing: I just do basic video editing (cutting and pasting), but the most important thing for me is to make sure the videos are in a resilient format. For those cute baby clips of my son people send me from their phones, I want to translate them from a proprietary format to something standard, like MPEG or AVI.

Posted by: kea7 | December 16, 2010 9:43 AM | Report abuse

I prefer Adobe Lightroom for photo management/library tasks and basic-to-intermediate adjustments. Special photos still get the full Photoshop treatment, of course.

Posted by: exerda | December 16, 2010 9:57 AM | Report abuse

For anybody who store their photos on their hard drive: BACKUP BACKUP BACKUP!!!!! If there is a fire or crash or other nefarious happening(see column from 2 days ago) you need these pictures somewhere else!!!!!!
Again,
BACKUP BACKUP BACKUP

Posted by: DrBones721 | December 16, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

I offload all my photos (and my wife's) to the HD on my MacBook Pro using Image Capture. I use iView Media (the free version that shipped with Toast Ver 5! Still works on 10.6!) to organize them and select the ones I want to add to iPhoto. I use iPhoto Library Manager to manage my several iPhoto libraries, one for each year since 2000, plus special topic libraries (e.g. my wife's quilts and show photos, or photos from our kids). The iPhoto Libraries are stored on external HD and backed up using DejaVu. The originals on my MBP HD are backed up via Time Machine and burned to DVD at 6 month intervals, after which the files are removed from the HD. I keep iView Media catalogs of each DVD so I can search without loading the DVD. I use Photoshop Elements for major photo editing.

The iPhoto Libraries are available on our home network so my wife can access them from her laptop. Also, I never format my camera memory cards until I have the images saved in at least two other places. Belt and suspenders!

Posted by: kamx3sj | December 16, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

The standard editing and sharing all sounds right. However, nothing like the feeling when you realize you have lost a photo or group of photos with no backup.

Relatively recent stuff ends up on my local hard drive, which is backed up regularly with WHS.

My archive holds years of photographs (plus a bunch of digitized photo albums and slides) in three different locatons: HD on another PC, External HD, and redundant storage on my Windows Home server.

Every year, the external HD goes off site to the Safety Deposit Box.

However, dealing with iPhoto, iMovie, Aprture Picasa and DarkRoom make it teduious and unnessicarily difficult to find all of the puctures plus the extra bits that make up the non-destructive edits I have done.

But that sounds like a different article.

Posted by: schristie | December 16, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Talk about storage methods. Agree that most people don't have/take time to adjust images but do need some way to store/retrieve.
NOTE: we make montages for clients, & when they give us pictures from iPhoto they are always nestled in the year/month folders, NOT the nice custom order they created in the program - Tell people how (if possible) to share HQ images of these changed images.

db_in_va: "Might be worth in yoru article talking about file backups or online storage... Backups of a backup anyone?"
Either use Carbonite.com $55/year per machine or redundant disk array connected to your home network. I currently do the latter (with a fireproof external backup each night).

Posted by: wvp123 | December 16, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

I have over 50K photos I manage. Since I started using iPhoto in 2005, I add so many per year that I need to use "iPhoto Library Manager" to create new libraries for each year plus some specialty libraries of work photos. Each annual library has about 8K photos, organized into events and albums. My largest library is the 2005 one which also includes many digital and scanned photos pre2005. Some of the scans were done by sending snapshots to a mass scanning service. Total 265GB as of today.
I use a triple backup since my iMac contains all my work (writer/educator). I backup into 3 1TB external drives, one using Time Machine that is helpful for recovering earlier versions of files, one using SuperDuper which is bootable and a third using SuperDuper that I swap out monthly to keep stored in my safe deposit box at the bank.
I post photos on my personal website, Picasa and participate in a few other photo forums.
I might add that I have a large number of photos of a specialized hobby in the 60s and 70s which I have now digitized and donated to a museum.

Posted by: jeh1 | December 16, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

** ROB *** - date those pics, at a bare minimum by year. It may seem hard to image but the summer beach photos @ age seven will look a *lot* like the summer beach shots from her eighth year.
Write it down. Otherwise you will be squinting at the cars in the background and other clues to try to "place" the images in time. ("When did we get that silver Mazda, honey...??")
Don't go there.
Add the event's fun phrase, even if you are exhausted. Did she say "duck baby!" @ the zoo? You can't tell this by looking at the photos of her laughing, and you will forget. Annotate.
Otherwise it's a blur of smiles, Halloween costumes, Christmas trees and "front door of classroom" shots.
Be sure you and your wife *swap* all the time - camera and camcorder. Many families have no photos with Dad in them, no video with Mom, or vice versa.
Last suggestion: hand the camera & camcorder to family, friends or even strangers to capture plenty of whole-family images. Ask the babysitter before you go out - mom and dad, and tot in PJs, a heart-warmer. Your child is not a model, she's a member of a family. Capture that, dude -the best memory of all.

Posted by: FloridaChick | December 16, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

** ROB *** - date those pics, at a bare minimum by year. It may seem hard to image but the summer beach photos @ age seven will look a *lot* like the summer beach shots from her eighth year.
Write it down. Otherwise you will be squinting at the cars in the background and other clues to try to "place" the images in time. ("When did we get that silver Mazda, honey...??")
Don't go there.
Add the event's fun phrase, even if you are exhausted. Did she say "duck baby!" @ the zoo? You can't tell this by looking at the photos of her laughing, and you will forget. Annotate.
Otherwise it's a blur of smiles, Halloween costumes, Christmas trees and "front door of classroom" shots.
Be sure you and your wife *swap* all the time - camera and camcorder. Many families have no photos with Dad in them, no video with Mom, or vice versa.
Last suggestion: hand the camera & camcorder to family, friends or even strangers to capture plenty of whole-family images. Ask the babysitter before you go out - mom and dad, and tot in PJs, a heart-warmer. Your child is not a model, she's a member of a family. Capture that, dude -the best memory of all.

Posted by: FloridaChick | December 16, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

** ROB *** - date those pics, at a bare minimum by year. It may seem hard to image but the summer beach photos @ age seven will look a *lot* like the summer beach shots from her eighth year.
Write it down. Otherwise you will be squinting at the cars in the background and other clues to try to "place" the images in time. ("When did we get that silver Mazda, honey...??")
Don't go there.
Add the event's fun phrase, even if you are exhausted. Did she say "duck baby!" @ the zoo? You can't tell this by looking at the photos of her laughing, and you will forget. Annotate.
Otherwise it's a blur of smiles, Halloween costumes, Christmas trees and "front door of classroom" shots.
Be sure you and your wife *swap* all the time - camera and camcorder. Many families have no photos with Dad in them, no video with Mom, or vice versa.
Last suggestion: hand the camera & camcorder to family, friends or even strangers to capture plenty of whole-family images. Ask the babysitter before you go out - mom and dad, and tot in PJs, a heart-warmer. Your child is not a model, she's a member of a family. Capture that, dude -the best memory of all.

Posted by: FloridaChick | December 16, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

I'm curious where you found the offer by Apple to include iLife 11 wth all new Mac's. I bought a new Mac Pro this month and didn't see anything on their Website about this offer. I didn't buy it as I have iLife 09 which works well enough for me. I'd like to see a link to the offer where it's available.

Posted by: wsrphoto | December 17, 2010 7:59 AM | Report abuse

One thing I WON'T be doing with my photos is taking them to Costco for printing. I just got an email from Costco bullying me to buy something by Jan. 17, or they would shut down my account at their photo print site, and dump all of my uploaded photos there that I have re-printed several times. "Spring cleaning" they called it. Hey guys, GREAT PR move. You people are geniuses.

Posted by: Craig_Colgan | December 17, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

To everyone who responded with some variation of "whatever else you do, back up your photos and videos": Thank you. That point can't be made often enough.

@pjsmith1: The EyeFit cards work--the geotagging they provide is particularly neat. Software could be a little more elegant, though. Here's the review I did of it a couple of years ago.

@tojo45: I like Paint.net for more detailed editing too. On a Mac, I use the $39.95 shareware GraphicConverter for the same purpose.

@wsrphoto: See Apple's press release. I don't know why your computer didn't include iLife '11, but Apple has a free-plus-shipping-costs upgrade for cases like yours.

- RP

Posted by: Rob Pegoraro | December 17, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

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