The Genius Bar is a place in each Apple store where you can take your devices and get free advice (by appointment is best, else you may have to wait some time).
So you are looking at the pictures - is there a folder with them on your desktop? If so, simply highlight a photo and drag it to the desktop (outside of the folder it's in). You are copying the photo from the camera card to your desktop. That's all there is to it. You can then put them in a folder if you like to keep them organized.
If you want to edit, organize, etc., then you do need software - either iPhoto, Aperture, or some third party app of your choice. Graphic Converter is a good one for editing.
Similar problem, only far worse. When I inserted my 128 mb Sony memory stick into its reader (MSAC-US1), my brand new iMac crashed--what Apple refers to as "kernel panic." The computer, running 10.8.2, wouldn't restart until I ejected the card.
Same stick and reader worked fine in G5 and later in a 2006 iMac, 2007 Macbook. Apple phone support could only refer the problem to engineering.