Two Quickproject Guide Books Reviewed

Visual Quickproject Guide
Retouching Photos in Photoshop Elements 3

Nolan Hester
Peachpit Press
ISBN 0-321-32118-9
US $12.99 CA $17.99

Visual Quickproject Guide
Creating a Photo Book and Slideshow with iPhoto 5

Elizabeth Castro
Peachpit Press
ISBN 0-321-35752-3
US $12.99 CA $17.99

I’ve never been a big fan of Peachpit’s Visual Quickstart Guide series. I prefer a more traditional manual instead of Visual Quickstart’s emphasis on screen shots and short captions. So, when the recent box filled with Peachpit titles for review arrived, I sorted out the titles I wanted to read, and planned to send the the two books called Visual Somethingorother to fellow reviewer John Nemerovksi, as his psyche appreciates them more than do I.

But before packing them off to Nemo, I took just a few minutes to flip through both Creating a Photo Book and Slideshow with iPhoto 5, and Retouching Photos in Photoshop Elements 3. Wow! I came away favorably impressed. Later, I took the time to read both titles from cover to cover, and was even more impressed.

Peachpit’s Visual Quickproject series is designed to show you how to get a project done quickly and easily. A Quickproject book’s not going to teach you the ins-and-outs of a particular application; that’s better left for more comprehensive manuals. Many users just want to know how to do one project well, and aren’t interested in learning every feature and keyboard shortcut. Peachpit prices the Visual Quickproject books lower than most full-featured manuals, so you won’t feel that you’ve paid too much for too little.

Nolan Hester’s Guide Retouching Photos in Photoshop Elements 3 is a perfect target for a Visual Quickproject. He walks the reader through an easy sequence of editing actions to improve digital photos. You’re not troubled with unneeded details about color spaces or gamuts, for example. This book is written for a novice or intermediate photo retoucher who wants to know what steps to take, and in what order, and can dispense with color theory.

Following the Hester’s steps will get you a good looking digital photo. Could you do a better job if you had bought 400 page Photoshop manual? Sure, but would you have ever -read- a 400 page book?

Elizabeth Castro’s Creating a Photo Book and Slideshow with iPhoto 5 is equally well done. It’s true that, compared to iPhoto 4, iPhoto 5 has simplified the process of assembling photo book and slideshows, but Apple’s weak documentation still leaves the user in the lurch.

Castro gives the the right amount of information and process to get you through the sometimes confusing process of making a photo book. A nice touch is the inclusion of a good tip about how to edit iPhoto’s preference file to increase the resolution of the photo book file sent that gets sent to Apple.

I wish I’d read this before I edited my first photo book, as the workflow that I used was inefficient. By following Castro’s recommended steps, you’ll have a good look photo book or slideshow with no wasted time or effort.

Peachpit has always had good production values, and these two additions to the Visual Quickproject series are no exception. Both books have lots of vivid full-color screen snaps. Important text is highlighted in a contrasting color. Both books are about 135 pages long, so they won’t take over your desk.

Conclusion. If you want to learn the basics of Photoshop Elements photo editing, or photo book/slideshow creation, but don’t want to wade through a manual the size of the Manhattan phone directory, I strongly recommend these two Visual Quickproject titles.

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