Candid Photography with MacBook’s Photo Booth

By Mark L. Chambers

Are you ready to put your MacBook’s built-in FaceTime HD camera to work? Your camera allows you to capture video or snap a quick, fun series of photos via the Photo Booth application that comes with El Capitan.

What’s that you say? You’ve never used a computer video camera? Well then, good reader, you’ve come to the right place!

The FaceTime HD camera’s indicator light glows green whenever you’re taking a snapshot or recording video . . . which, when you think about it, is A Good Thing (especially if you prefer chatting at home in Leisure Mode).

If you need a quick picture of yourself for use on your web page, use Photo Booth to capture images at 720p resolution and 32-bit color. Although today’s digital cameras can produce a much higher-quality photo, you can’t beat the built-in convenience of Photo Booth for that quick snapshot!

To snap an image in Photo Booth, follow these steps:

  1. Launch Photo Booth from the Dock or from Launchpad.

    To try things out in full-screen mode, choose View→Enter Full Screen.

  2. Choose to take one image, four quick photos as a group, or digital video.

    The three buttons at the lower-left side of the Photo Booth window allow you to switch among taking one photo, four photos in a row (arranged as a group, like an arcade photo booth), or a movie clip.

  3. (Optional) Click the Effects button to choose an effect you’d like to apply to your image.

    Photo Booth displays a screen of thumbnail preview images so that you can see how each effect changes the photo. To move through the thumbnail screens, click the Previous and Next arrow buttons that appear at the bottom of the window.

    You can produce some of the simple effects that you might be familiar with from Photoshop, such as a black-and-white image or a fancy colored-pencil filter, but you can also play with some mind-blowing distortion effects and even very convincing “faux” thermal and X-ray cameras!

    Of course, you can always launch your favorite image editor afterward to use a filter or effect on a photo — for example, the effects available in Photos — but Photo Booth can apply these effects automatically as soon as you take the picture.

  4. (Optional) Click a thumbnail to apply the desired effect.

    When you choose an effect, Photo Booth automatically closes the Effects display.

    To return the display to normal, click the Normal thumbnail, which appears in the center. (That would be Paul Lynde’s spot, for those of you old enough to remember Hollywood Squares.)

  5. Click the red Camera button.

The image (or video clip) appears in the filmstrip at the bottom of the window. Photo Booth keeps a copy of all the images and clips you take in the filmstrip so that you can use them later. After you click a photo or film clip in the filmstrip, the familiar Share button appears, inviting you take any one of a series of actions, including

  • Sending the photo in an email or as a Messages attachment

  • Saving the photo directly to Photos

  • Sharing the photo or video on Twitter, Facebook, or Flickr

  • Sending the item to another Mac using AirDrop

  • Using the image as your El Capitan user account icon

To delete an image from the Photo Booth filmstrip, click the offending photo and then click the X button that appears in the upper-left corner.