Archiving Photographs (plus using Mac Photos)


Archival is about at least two issues. Firstly, the management and storage of the master image or document, and secondly the creation and use of production copies.

The first topic ..

For me, the second topic boils down to the use of Apple’s Photos and iCloud. 

Photos (and iCloud) 

One of the simplest rules, is to quickly transfer photographs from cameras and iPhones, etc. to a backup such as a computer and/or Cloud server. Photographs are lost or deleted by accident everyday because people don’t transfer them to their backup options

Another simple rule, often ignored, is to delete photographs you don’t want or need, e.g. fuzzy photographs, useless photographs, poorly framed photographs, and all quasi- and full duplicates. 

Using iCloud Photo Library means automatically transferring all photographs (and videos) to your iCloud account. 

The button “Pause for one day” is just in case you wish to avoid immediately “saturating” your Internet connection.  

The option “Download Originals to this Mac” means that full-resolution images will be held on both the Mac and in iCloud. 

Time Machine

I keep originals on both my Mac and in the iCloud, and I also have a Time Capsule. So I can recover my Photos collection anytime I need using Time Machine.

Deleted photographs that are held for a period before finally being deleted, are in fact backed-up by Time Machine as part of Photos. If you really need to recover a deleted photograph, you can open Time Machine and restore an older version of your Photos collection. You will be asked if you want to replace your present Photos collection or if you want to keep both the recent and older Photos collections. Keeping both will allow you to pick out the deleted photographs, transfer them to you up-to-date Photos collection, and then delete the older Time Machine duplicate.      

Create a separate back-up of your Photos collection 

Every so often I also create a backup of all my important files on a separate portable HD.  

Under “Favorites” you have Pictures, and there you will find a large file called Photos Library.photoslibrary. This is the home for all photographs (and videos) held in Photos. 

You can also find this file by going to Macintosh HD - Users - your name - Pictures. 

If you launch Photos and hold down the “option” key at the same time you will get this window which included the location of your Photos library. 

What is Consolidate?

What are View - Metadata - Reference File???

Photos Features

The entry point is simply Photos (default “Moments”) which presents thumbnails of the entire collection, organised by location and date. Under “View” and “Metadata” it is possible to show for each photograph additional information such as its title placed underneath each photograph. If a location and keywords are attached, then they are indicated by a pin and a label icons in the upper right-hand corner of each photograph.

When opening an individual image it will also indicate if “People” have been identified in the photograph.

Difference between “Photos” and “All Photos”


This picks out features and objects in images, and adds them to keywords, titles, people, etc., to create a powerful search engine. For example a search on “beach” will produce the following…


Smart Albums 

This is very powerful but you need to open the different options. And you can open quite a number of sort criteria in order to automatically build a smart album. For example, all photographs taken with flash on a particular date and in a particular location.  

Deleting photographs

You can delete photographs in Albums, but they are not really deleted since they still remain in (all) Photos,

Need to look more carefully a delete and how it works

Keywords (labels, tags) 

The “Keyword Manager” is under “Window”. New keywords can also be added directly onto individual photographs, and the Keyword Manager will be automatically updated.

You can open the Keyword Manager and open a photograph, and click on specific keywords to automatically attach them to that image. 

You can select a series of photographs in All Photos, open the Keyword Manager and attach one or more keywords to a whole sequence of photographs with one click. 

EXIF file

Opening a particular image, you can ask for its EXIF file with the information button (i) in the menu bar. 

You can then close that photograph and return back to the collection, and the EXIF file window will remain open on the screen. You can then click through other individual photos in the collection (without opening them), and the EXIF file will change accordingly. 

De-selecting everything, the EXIF file windows changes and tells you for the entire Photos collection, the date range, the total number of photographs and videos, and the total storage capacity used.  

In addition “Details” is also available in the menu bar for individual images, and as “Show Details” in the pull-down menu under “Image”. For a particular photograph it geo-locates the photograph on a map (“Places”). Next to “Places” is offered “Show Nearby Photos” which when selected will map other photographs that are geo-located nearby.

Export file formats: JPEG, TIFF, PNG

The default format in Photos is JPEG, but you can export images also in TIFF and PNG. 

Exporting JPEG has quality options (maximum, high, medium and low), with Colour Profile (Most Compatible, sRGB, AdobeRGB, Display P3, Original), and Size (Small, Medium, Large, Full, Custom)

TIFF is offered with a 16-bit option

What does this mean in practice? If we start with a 1.7 MB JPEG image (3264 x 2448 pixels), “maximum, most compatible, full size” means a 5MB file. The image can be opened in Profile, and the Inspector (under Tools) tells us that the “most compatible” means the RGB colour model, with a ColourSync profile sRGB IEC61966-2.1. The lowest quality produces a 259 kB file. 

The TIFF option produces a 24 MB file, with the same colour choices. Selecting 16-bits produces a 47.9 MB file, always with the same colour choices. 

The PNG option produces a 8.5 MB file, with the same colour choices.

Opting for AdobeRGB does not change the file sizes of any of these options. 

The Profile Inspector is a useful tool and provides both General Info, and under More Info (General, Exif, GPS, JFIF and TIFF). Below we have the different windows for different 4.5 MB JPEG image (portrait format). 

You can also export the JPEG Unmodified Original, with the option to export the image “IPTC as XMP”. 

Exporting a JPEG unmodified original does what it says, a copy of the original 1.7 MB JPEG file. Oddly all exports are dated “Today” but this option produces a described date, i.e. 13 Aug 2017. Exporting with the option “IPTC as XMP” produces two files, the 1.7 MB file (dated 13 Aug 2017), and a 1 kB XMP Sidecar file (dated Today). 


People” in “Albums” is both a face recognition tool and a way to build collections. 

It does a great job extracting faces, but how to delete some that are irrelevant? 

How to merge different photographs under the same name?

How to select the right photograph to represent a favourite?

What to do with two people having the same name, when one is not in the address book?

Photo Duplicate Cleaner

Nik Collection and Snapped by Google (both free app)

Color Efex Pro

PhotoScape X

Panorama Stitcher Free

BeFunky Express


Edit in Photos

We have specific Webpages on scanning and restoring photographs, but Apple’s Photos also has tools for editing photographs, including automatic enhancement, rotate and crop, filter, adjust and retouch. 

The first step is to never edit an original

Under “Images” there is the option to “Duplicate 1 Photo”, which produces a duplicate entitled “version 2”. You can create as many versions as you want.

Open “version 2” and use “Edit Photo” in the tool bar. 

These tests will be on a duplicate of a seascape taken at Cabo de Gata in Spain. It is a 4 MB JPEG file (3264 x 2448 pixels).  

Screen Shot 2017-09-11 at 08.03.06

Automatic enhancement produced the below image. Looking at the before and after histograms shows that the “brilliance” (+32 points) has been lifted for all the colours, as has “brightness” (+14 points). The whole image has been lightened, and the shadows in the rocks appear slightly less deep. The sea foam around the rocks looks slightly lighter and whiter. Contrast was increased just slightly and Saturation slightly decreased. The tonal variations in the sea have been noticeably increased (see the blue in the histograms). Sharpen (0.81) worked hard to create greater tonal variations, and Edges (0.22) were improved. Sharpen and Definition (0.25) appear to give greater presence to the rocks in the centre of the image. Vignette (Strength 0.25 and Radius 0.50). Overall, colours appear a little more vivid and better defined, but the variations in the blues and stone colours have been retained making the changes quite subtile. 

Screen Shot 2017-09-11 at 08.06.07

Automatic Enhancement is the addition of the Auto functions of Light, Colour, Sharpen, Definition, Noise Reduction and Vignette (but not the Auto functions for White Balance or Levels).

Quite dramatic changes can be made to the image, and it can quickly start to look artificial or unbalanced. All the more important to always edit copies of originals and not the original itself. Experts often advised people to try several different edits and then compare them to find the most pleasing one. 

Below is an old faded photograph I use to test different software. And further is the result of the Automatic Restoration (with one provisor). 

The original looks overexposed, with most of the mid-tones and darker colours missing. The Auto adjusted Light increased the Brilliance and the Black Point. The Auto adjusted Colour increased somewhat the Saturation which made the black trousers and the red ski poles more intense. Auto Sharpen worked wonders in bringing the skier out from the background. Auto Definition made the edges of mountain range and the background snow plateau sharper. The Auto White Balance corrected the colour of the snow, bringing it back to a nice white (although it did tend to over-do the white patches in the ski jacket). I was particularly impressed by the fresh look of the snow of the sky boots. The only provisor was that I did not use Auto Vignette, which tended to dull down the whole image.

Overall a good automatic restoration of an old, faded (and probably originally overexposed) photograph. I think a manual enhance might still be necessary to brighten up the whiteness of the snow, but much might depend upon how such a photograph re-prints. 

Rotate and Crop might appear the most banal features of Edit, but they can be essential in eliminating the odd error in the original photograph. Crop has quite a collection of little known options, as seen below.  

For instance I usually make a special effort to get the horizon horizontal, but sometimes it is not easy with a handheld smartphone. Below we have an almost good photograph, but the horizon is not quite horizontal.  

With Crop and Auto, the correction of the horizon was easy. The rotation can be done manually, and a useful set of grid lines appear in the editor to help.

Crop can also dramatically change a photograph. For example, the below photograph looks rather banal, but with a simple crop of the sky the image looks completely different. 

Filter provides a series of on/off options, namely Mono, Tonal, Noir, Fade, Chrome, Process, Transfer, and Instant. 

Filters are a series of pre-set modifications that can change the appearance of an image, altering its appeal, e.g. b&w or faded. Other options can be added as extensions (see later on how to do this). 

You can also edit photographs manually.  


Adjust appears to be the most powerful tool. It initially offered three default  “packages” of options, namely Light, Colour, and Black & White. Under each package there are a number of options with sliders all (except 2) set at 0.00 and ranging from -1.00 to +1.00.

Light offers 7 different options, namely Brilliance, Exposure, Highlights, Shadows, Brightness, Contrast, and Black Point.

Colour offers 3 different options, namely Saturation, Contrast, and Cast. 

Black & White offers 4 different options, namely Intensity (set at 0.50 and ranging from 0.00 to 1.00), Neutrals, Tones and Gran (0.00 to 1.00).

For Light, Colour, and Black & White there is also an “Auto” button.

There is also a Reset Adjustments button. 

In addition next to the header “Adjustments” there is a very discrete “Add” option. This opens a series of additional adjustment tools as seen below. I have all the tools open, and saved as default.

The Histogram cannot be manipulated, however as the different sliders are moved the histogram changes in real-time. On the other hand the histogram available under Levels can be manipulated. 

One nice feature associated with editing Light, Colour or Black & White, is the appearance of a small sequence of images which permit a realtime adjustment of the selected image. By moving the curser across the images, the different variables are adjusted, and the effect is immediately visible in the opened photograph. Remember you can always “Revert to Original”, and remember you are always editing a duplicate. 

Sharpen and Noise Reduction are particularly useful for photographs that are blurred. Sharpen can bring out some detail in the blurred image, and noise reduction can reduce the grain (noise) in an underexposed image (too much can remove information so it must be used with care). They cannot perform miracles, but they can help save an otherwise “lost” photograph. 

White Balance 

Levels (histogram)

Under Levels the histogram can be edited manually (or with Auto). 

We can see along the x-axis the Black Point to the extreme left, and (hidden) the White Point to extreme right. The middle point is the mid-grey. And you can also see  the buttons for what I understand Apple called “quarter-tones”. This histogram is of the below photograph.

Manipulating the Levels histogram can change considerable the final image. 

Screen Shot 2017-09-11 at 10.11.04


Retouch offers the option to select a “source area” and to “click and drag” it over defects to remove (or better paint-over) them. The size of the retouch element can be selected with a slider. 


It is possible to add “extensions” or additional features offered by third-parties. The first thing is to download (or buy) the third-party app. 

Then in System Preferences - Extensions, the new app will offer certain features which can be accepted. 

Returning to the Photos app, those features will be available in Edit Photo - Extensions. 



It is possible to add text, shapes and drawings to an image. Under Edit Photo - Extensions - Markup, a series of features are offered (in order from left to right Sketch, Draw, Shapes, Text, Shape Style, Border Colour, Fill Colour, and Text Style). 

Use Apple TV

You send your photographs  © Bernard Smith 2017-18