Two Book Reviews
Top 100 Simplified Tips and Tricks Digital Photography and Adobe Photoshop CS3

Digital Photography: Top 100 Simplified Tips and Tricks, 3rd Edition
by Rob Sheppard

Wiley Publishing, Inc.
ISBN: 0470147660
221 pages, paper, full color
US: $19.99, CAN: $23.99, UK: £13.99

Like other excellent titles in Wiley’s Visual series, Rob Sheppard’s book on digital photography is well organized and makes extremely good use of photos to illustrate techniques described in the text. In some ways, the title of the book may do it a disservice: don’t think that you will only get 100 tips; there are tips and tricks lodged within the 100 labeled tips. Also, the book provides sound advice for taking better photos, be they digital or not.

In this book I saw great explanations of fundamental photographic information such as WHAT METERS REALLY DO (Tip 22) — and why it really is important to understand. In the past I’ve often drawn blank stares when I’ve tried to explain this topic, and Sheppard (with the help of some great photos) does it simply and succinctly in a way that most people would be able to grasp. In similar manner, more advanced topics are handled such that photographers are encouraged to stretch their abilities to new levels.

Readers who like to flip open a book in random places will really enjoy Digital Photography: Top 100 Simplified Tips and Tricks, 3rd Edition, as it is definitely not necessary to read through methodically starting at page one. You can just crack open the book, pick a tip, any tip, and give it a try the next time you are out with a camera or sitting at a computer with some photo files to play with.

As is customary in Wiley’s Visual series, each tip is assigned a Difficulty Level so the readers has some ideas of what they are getting into. The book covers a broad range of topics beyond the fundamentals of taking good photos. While not getting too deep into the fine points, space is devoted to basic digital editing for taking advantage of photo-improvement techniques that were unavailable when darkrooms were full of nasty chemicals. That said, this isn’t a book of advanced photo-editing techniques using Photoshop CS3, but it does a dandy job of demonstrating some of the amazing improvements that can be made using Photoshop Elements.

Sheppard gets bonus points for not assuming that everyone uses a PC; key combinations are given for Macs as well as PCs. Just because Mac users are substantially smarter than a typical shoulder roast and can usually translate instructions given for PCs, it is nice that we are not taken for granted as happens in many books on digital editing.

Maybe after taking some great photos and then doing some digital editing to bring out their strong points and minimize any flaws, readers will want to explore some of the many ways that they can make use of their images. Sheppard doesn’t let them down here either, as several Tips and Tricks are devoted to various ways of sharing photos on the web, DVDs, and in print.

If this book isn’t worth the price of ten cups of java, I don’t know what is. It adroitly covers many of the issues involved with the taking, improving, and use of digital photos and does so in ways that are accessible to readers of varied skill levels. It is hard to give a comprehensive review of such a wide ranging book, but I’m quite certain that many people will part with about twenty bucks if they visit a bookstore and flip through the pages. And most of these people will shortly find themselves understanding something that was fuzzy in the past, or trying new ways of taking photos, or getting a little bolder with their digital editing, or trying new ways of sharing their photos. If so, buying and working through Digital Photography: Top 100 Simplified Tips and Tricks, 3rd Edition will have been money well spent. Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Adobe Photoshop CS3: Top 100 Simplified Tips and Tricks
by Lynette Kent

Wiley Publishing, Inc.
ISBN: 0470144769
244 pages, paper, full color
US: $19.99, CAN: $23.99, UK: £13.99

Photoshop CS3 can be a little daunting to many people new to digital image editing and photo manipulation. This book may be the answer for someone who doesn’t know where to start. It will also serve well for many more experienced users who are looking to expand on their editing repertoire or want to learn how to make use of new features introduced with this version of Photoshop.

Lynette Kent’s book seems like a companion book to Rob Sheppard’s title on Digital Photography, reviewed above, for users who want to push their image editing skills to new levels. Adobe Photoshop CS3: Top 100 Simplified Tips and Tricks shares the “Read Less—Learn More” strengths of Wiley’s Visual series. The book is heavily and appropriately illustrated and gives step-by step instructions for achieving the desired changes in an image.

Like other books in the Visual series, each tip is assigned a Difficulty Level in the form of a bar graph for quick reference. Also, like others in the series, the book is uniformly formatted such that each tip occupies a two-page spread.

Topics in Kent’s book range from customizing a personal workspace to using many of the popular Photoshop plug-ins. Readers with interests ranging from basic photo editing to “painting” a digital watercolor will find useful tips in Adobe Photoshop CS3: Top 100 Simplified Tips and Tricks.

Topics such as monitor calibration and the fundamentals of using a pressure-sensitive tablet and pen are covered. With 100 tips and tricks to choose from it is likely that readers will find several tips to enhance their skills and improve their images. I know that one or two new skills are worth the price of admission, and most readers will find far more than a handful of new skills lurking here. Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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