About editing RAW in iPhoto (and general image modification and workflow)

(I think the red text is the most informal part)

OPINION 1: The reason iPhoto will not update the thumbnail for a raw file is that when you edit a raw in iPhoto, the raw file itself does not change (i.e. non-destructive editing). Editing a raw results in the creation of a whole new file. Since the raw itself does not change, its thumbnail will not change either.

OPINION 2: Leslie.. Here’s the deal… iPhoto can ‘handle’ RAW files, but what it does actually is do a pretty straight across run of the mill conversion to JPEG… there’s no other way to deal with RAW in iPhoto. Basically when you import a RAW file into iPhoto, it immediately makes a JPEG out of it and then uses that for all iPhoto adjustments, essentially throwing away all that magicky RAW goodness right in the first step. Once it’s imported the shot from RAW, iPhoto doesn’t ever look back at the RAW file (thus the lack of an update to any RAW changes you might make in the photoshop RAW tool.) On a related but OT point… one of the main reasons I stopped using iPhoto was the amount of bloat in the data.. everytime you do something to a photo, iPhoto saves another wholly independent version of the photo. You might want to try Adobe Lightroom (which is Beta) but pretty stable and FREE… I like it better than Aperture.

OPINION 3:  iPhoto keeps the RAW file… it just converts it whenever you edit it.. So it doesn’t ever change the RAW file at all (which is as it should be since you should think of the RAW file as a digital negative of sorts)… it’s just using a JPEG facsimile thereof to work with… so your RAW files will still be there… it’s just that they become JPEGS when you tweak them in iPhoto… I think… (this may have changed in recent updates to iPhoto..) here’s a link to the apple kbase article… http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=300876 and BTW in response to another of your questions 16bit TIFF is probably the best way to save your files out of photoshop (iPhoto can’t handle them yet, I don’t think) but it’s one of the best ways to preserve your important photos… JPEGS are great but everytime you resave a JPEG you are introducing some compression artifacting… it can add up quite a bit. I just realized that I… use… ellipses… a… lot

OPINION 4: Allow me to fuzzy the waters. RAW can’t be modified per se, and you can’t convert a JPG back to RAW. RAW is basically a digital neg, unchangeable itself but can be tweaked from here to Pluto; RAW’s progeny is then saved to any file format. (Your RAW tweaks are saved differently by iPhoto and by Adobe; neither can read the other’s.)

iPhoto is designed to be a one-stop no-muss-no-fuss not-quite-pro app, for people who don’t want to futz with files. It’s great if you want to click on a picture and order a print or email to Nana. If you actually try to manage iPhoto files — move ’em around — disaster awaits. Asking it to deal with PSDs is a risk.

Bridge is for viewing and opening Adobe files. Its managment skills are limited — and flakey to boot.

Your instinct is in the right place but I see nothing but trouble in trying to get iPhoto and Bridge to work together. I suggest:

— Letting Image Capture, not iPhoto, handle file ingestion.*

— Drag the new folder of images into the Bridge icon, the easiest way to load a batch.

— Use Adobe RAW to tweak the files, then save your winners as JPGs (for online viewing, online print ordering.)

— Have iPhoto manage those JPGs.

— If some rag wants to run your shot, go back to the RAW and send a TIF.

(*”Ingest” is the term used by Photo Mechanic, a brilliant first-stage file management app. My clients chuckle every time they see the throbbing Ingest button.)

A.I. Famous is right in pointing you toward Adobe Lightroom. I’m jonesing for this sort of app for certain jobs, and the latest Lightroom beta — free! — strikes me as exactly the iPhoto/Bridge hybrid you desire. Plays nice with Photoshop. Aperture has the same intentions but Apple stupidly offers no demo. Aperture also demands waayyy too much CPU.

Er, don’t swallow the 16-bit bait yet, not as long as you have RAW originals. Hard disk hogs, requires mucho RAW and CPU to edit, for high-end repro only.

OPINION 5:   Trystero, I could just copy the files, but I want a program to manage them. For me the advantage of a program like iPhoto, Bridge, or Lightbox is that these programs are photo databases that make it easy to organize, tag, and display thumbnails of photographs.

iPhoto won’t let you do this, but the more sophisticated apps let you “develop” large sets of pictures at once. So, if I wanted to color correct a color cast on every picture I took of Barbara Boxer, I could select 20 images and have my digital darkroom software perform the same automated sequence on all of them. One of the nice things about Bridge is that you can let it run in the background while you’re running Photoshop, so Bridge can be doing Photoshop-type stuff in the background, leaving the real PS free for other work.

Transferring my existing iPhoto database to another photo organizer is slightly complicated because I’m not sure whether my new program will be able to read whatever meta-data I’ve added to the iPhoto stuff. It might just be easier to leave my iPhoto files where they are and just start using a better program instead, importing piecemeal as necessary.

I’m going to download Lightbox on the advice of the hivemind. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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