Apple’s iPhoto is a wonderful value for digital photography, but lacks variety when it comes to creating photo galleries. Not to worry. There are other ways to create photo albums and galleries, for CD distribution, for uploading to websites. The price tag of JAlbum makes iPhoto look expensive.
iPhoto has matured to become an indispensable utility for Mac users with digital cameras. iPhoto stores thousands of photos, gives quick access by date, event, keywords, and comes with a host of distribution methods.
Distribution? Sure, you want to share your photos, right? iPhoto does email, QuickTime movies, website uploads, even photo albums. To make a better photo album or gallery you’ll need a better tool.
For many years the tool of choice for the average Mac or Windows user who needs more than iPhoto but doesn’t want to spend more has been JAlbum, not at version 8.0.
JAlbum helps you make website albums of your digital photographs. With JAlbum, no extra software is needed to view the albums, just your web browser.
Whoa, sounds nice and all, but most Mac users do not have a website, so how does JAlbum address their needs? Instead of uploading your photo gallery to a website, just save it on a CD, hand out the CD to whomever, and they can view the photos on the web browser of their choice.
JAlbum is more than just sticking photos on a web page, though it does that quite well. If you love an ugly interface with buttons and features scattered all over the place, JAlbum won’t disappoint.
You have full control of the look of the generated album, not just color theme and basic layout, still making an album is just a matter of drag and drop + a button click if you prefer to use one of the many existing looks. It will process your images, make index pages and slide show pages and even upload the final album to the Internet for your friends to see.
The software comes with a variety of skins which let you change the look and feel of the photo gallery, including full control over fonts, sizes, colors, etc.
These days it isn’t enough simply to store photos or create a simple photo album. Mac utilities seem to demand photo manipulation. iPhoto does it. I’m surprised Mail doesn’t do it. Maybe that’ll show up in OS X Hello Kitty.
New image editor with pluggable image filters: crop, red eye, color adjustment (brightness, contrast, saturation), gamma correction, rotate/straighten, grayscale, sepia, sharpen, blur, flip, invert and pixelate. The editor never touches your original images! Images having filters applied to them can be saved separately
That simply means that JAlbum comes with tools to adjust your photos. The tools aren’t pretty, but they work.
JAlbum is straightforward, though suffers from the ‘look’ of most applications written in Java for the Mac (click on any image for a pop up, close up view).
No, there’s no Media Viewer for drag and drop from iPhoto. Export your photos first, then drag and drop them into JAlbum. Otherwise, the buttons are self explanatory and it takes only a few minutes to get a complete photo album ready for a website or to be burned onto a CD.
The Mac isn’t much for preferences, and neither is JAlbum. Settings? That’s a different story. Wade in carefully as the settings for everything you can think of are scattered hither an yon.
Settings are many and varied. JAlbum comes with the ability to add ‘skins’ to define the look of your album or gallery. Add comments, apply filters, create an album. Truly, other than so many settings your head will swim, JAlbum is surprisingly easy to get started.
A whole cottage industry has grown up around JAlbum’s gallery ‘skins’. You can also create your own, though it’s plenty of work. JAlbum will out put a folder with your photos and gallery intacts, perfect for burning onto a CD.
It also uploads the finished gallery to a web site, or even acts as a web server, handy on a Mac. Albums can be password protected, managed, added, deleted, right from your Mac.
Drag your photos into JAlbum’s window, click the Settings button to fine tune the look and feel of the album (or the photos), click to Preview, click to export the finished gallery.
I’m sure I mentioned that JAlbum is free. It’s Java. It runs on Mac and Windows and sometimes Linux flavors. It’s not always pretty, but the price is right, performance is decent. Got a favorite photo album making tool?