Thursday, 30 March 2017

Using Mylio Reviewing Photographs: A Replacement for iPhoto

Photographs are rarely taken at random. There's usually some common theme - a wedding, or a rainy evening in Soho - that was the reason we took the photographs and which remember independently of the photographs. Laying all the images where we can see them at once helps us compare the images with that independent memory.

(Rainy evening in Soho: that's how I remember it.)

Which images capture what we felt, that inspired us to take the pictures? The side-by-side, contact-sheet view lets the eye compare-and-contrast (the eye has a mind of its own) and lets us appreciate the good and bad features of each image. This simply doesn't happen when we can only look at one image at a time.

By mass acclaim, the best program in which to look at lots of your photos side by side at the same time was iPhoto. Then Apple replaced it with the space hog that is Photos, a program so egregiously designed to make you buy more outrageously-priced memory from Apple that it ought to be investigated by the EU.

The best image-file manipulator and viewer, by so far it's not even a competition, is IrfanView. That's for only Windows, and if you have a lot of image files it's so good it justifies having a mid-spec Windows machine just to make use of it when you need it. Because the alternative is the command-line. As a compare-and-contraster, it doesn't quite do it for me: the images don't jump out at me they way they did in iPhotos.

Anyway, I digress. Lacking iPhoto, what do we have? For something so fundamental to the process of photography, surprisingly little. Picasa isn't bad at it and shows individual photos kinda okay; Sequential makes my images look way better than Picasa does, but the film-strip view at the side doesn't quite do the same job as the contact sheet; Photos looks nice, but space; and I'm going to experiment with Mylio, especially since the low-end version is free. The one thing it seems to do best, synchronising image collections across devices, is the one thing I don't really need, but it's optional.

Mostly I take pictures, post or print the better ones and let the rest gather digital dust. I have a bunch of old 35mm film pictures from way back in the day that I should scan. I'm not really into categorising pictures or anything else. For the professional selling work through sites offering keyword search, tagging makes a lot of sense. I don't really do tagging and categorising. I might if I had 250,000 images in my catalogue, but I don't.

I got a cold at the weekend, and that disabled my doubt-and-caution mechanism, so I downloaded DxO Perspective and Mylio, and found out how to use Airdrop all in one session.

Mylio does generate “previews and thumbnails”, and it took about ten-fifteen minutes to do it for my collection of 3,000 or so files. It offers a white or black background, and I’m a fan of black backgrounds at the moment (it should be ISO 3664:2009 colour neutral grey N8, but, you know, I live in white rooms so it’s a wonder I’m able to see colours at all for all the dazzling reflections from the white paint). It does not create its own space-hogging database, but works from the files in your folder structure, and lets you see what’s in the folders you told it to import. It lets you create albums, which I have a limited use for, and it has a calendar view.

If there is one thing that will shame me into taking more photos it’s that calendar view. How can I have let entire months go by without taking any pictures? (Answer, by the way, was that it was too darn cold to hang around taking snapshots. And the weather was horrible and the skies were grey. Also, that I move in a rut, a pleasant rut, but a rut nonetheless.)

(Guilt-inducing calendar view: I have to do more than this!)

Mylio also has some basic cropping-colour-contrast-etc controls with a bunch of reasonable pre-sets. I spent a while playing with these - because that’s what Real Artists do when they get some new tech. So between Mylio + DxO on the Mac and Photos + SKRWT on iOS, I think I have what I want for the while.

And it's is available for Windows and iOS.

PS: So I thought I had more photos that this, and it turns out I do. Something must have gone awry when I thought I copied my collection from the NAS to my Air. A lot is missing. Mylio provides an option to catalogue but not import files on an external drive, but guess what? It doesn't treat NAS as "external", so it copies the files into a directory the Air's HDD. On the plus side, if you mess around with where you put that directory, it keeps track of the changes. Importing a bunch of missing folders, it identified duplicate files and only added the missing ones.

By the time I'd finished, I had 12GB of images, with a 3GB database of previews and thumbnails. As I understand it, that database, or a smaller version, is what lives on your other devices, and I'm not sure I want that on my 16GB iPhone SE. It's also making me think about how big I want those image files, and if I want what's on my Air to be a selection rather than the full warehouse.

None of these problems happened when we had film, prints and shoe-boxes. Technology solves one bunch of problems and creates others.

(I knew I hadn't been that lazy!)

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