Two Photoshop CS5 Books
Book Review

The Adobe Photoshop CS5 Book for Digital Photographers
by Scott Kelby
$54.99 US, $65.99 CA


The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 Book for Digital Photographers
by Scott Kelby
$49.99 US, $59.99 CA
Published by New Riders Voices That Matter

When I first began learning Adobe Photoshop many years ago, I was frustrated because most of the literature didn’t address the digital photographer. I spent hours learning and googling information on how to tweak black and white images so they could be close to what I could experience in the darkroom. I remember the first time I purchased one of Scott Kelby’s books, The Adobe Photoshop CS Book for Digital Photographers. Scott presented the tools within Adobe Photoshop in an articulate manner that a digital photographer was yearning for. Aside from his self-professed corny humor, Scott focused on how digital photographers could quickly fine- tune their images in Adobe Photoshop. He provided his readers with abundant information that enabled a swift fluency with the software. His newest offering, The Adobe Photoshop CS5 Book for Digital Photographers does not disappoint.

Scott has been writing Photoshop and other software books for twelve years. He is the President of the National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP), Editor-in-Chief of Photoshop User Magazine and Layers Magazine and the President of Kelby Media Group. His writing is, aside from the occasional corny pun, well-written and organized. His writing style is casual; it’s as if he is sitting next to you explaining the process. I’ve have learned so many time-saving tricks from Scott’s books that it is the first book I always reach for if I need an answer to my Photoshop or Lightroom question.

Scott does recycle images and information from his previous Photoshop books but often omits certain subjects with the latest books. I learned that the hard way and now keep all of his Adobe Photoshop for Digital Photographer books. He adds the most relevant and newest features of the application as well as many tips from well-known photographers that he generously shares with the reader.

The Adobe Photoshop CS5 book for Digital Photographers begins with Adobe Photoshop CS5 Mini Bridge. This is a new feature that allows the Photoshop user to view and select files without having to leave the application. Scott devotes the next three chapters to RAW files, the essentials, beyond the basics, and Adobe Photoshop CS5 RAW adjustment tools. The chapters are divided up by numerous subtitles, for example, “Adjusting Contrast by Using Curves”and “Sharpening in Camera Raw.” A new inclusion that Scott has added to the end of each chapter is “Photoshop Killer Tips.” The tips relate to application shortcuts that are very helpful. The remaining chapters are concerned with cropping and resizing photos, color correction, black and white conversion, HDR (High Dynamic Range) images, fixing common image problems, special effects, sharpening, step-by-step printing and color management, and Scott’s complete step-by-step Adobe Photoshop CS5 digital photography workflow. Included in the back of the book is a removable gray card (with white, black, light gray and an 18% gray) for instant color corrections.

One curious omission however, is the lack of information on Puppet Warp, one of the new Photoshop CS5 features. All other Adobe Photoshop CS5 enhancements are discussed; 64-bit processing, content-aware fill, improved HDR imaging, painting, and lens corrections, and it’s a shame this great tool has been ignored. Puppet Warp allows the precise repositioning of a distracting object to make a more appealing image and it’s very easy to use.

I do appreciate the detailed chapter on HDR imaging. This function has been greatly improved with Adobe Photoshop CS5. Like many special effects, digital photographers have a propensity to overdo HDR. Scott explains how to tone it down and make an HDR image look more realistic but also how to make an image have the HDR surreal look. I have been enamored of Photoshop CS5’s Quick Selection Refine Edge tool. Scott writes a detailed tutorial how to make difficult selections in an image like flyaway hair. That selection is much easier with this fabulous tool.

Although the specs state this book has 480 pages, I count only 410 and that is including the three pages of Kelby Training advertisements in the back. This book is jam-packed with a lot of information. It’s great book for the beginning Adobe Photoshop user as well as digital photographers who have upgraded to CS5 and need to get up to speed quickly. Scott is lavish with step-by-step instructions, photographs, and the Photoshop settings to explain a particular process.

Many digital photographers use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom in conjunction with Adobe Photoshop for their workflow. The two applications integrate seamlessly with each other, especially with the latest version of Lightroom. Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 is an application for photographers to organize and catalog photographs and to perform non-destructive edits on the images. Scott’s newest book on the application, The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 Book for Digital Photographers, is another powerhouse of information.  He also has a link to download many of the photos he uses in the book for the reader to follow his instructional process plus two bonus videos.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 is a viable way for photographers to edit their images before uploading them to Adobe Photoshop. Some of the new Lightroom improvements include tethered shooting, improved image sharpening, lens and perspective corrections, online sharing, watermarking, and video file support.

Scott begins by discussing how to store your images and the myriad ways to import them into the computer and Lightroom 3. His facility and knowledge about the software are apparent. His explanations about DNG files (digital negative format), tethering import, metadata templates, and Lightroom customization preferences are concise and expressive. Scott again includes at the end of each chapter a Lightroom Killer Tips feature that provide shortcuts in the software. For example, you can change the intensity of an effect in Lightroom 3 by using the left or right arrow keys. It’s small tips like that streamline a work process.

The subsequent chapters are detailed about Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 functions. The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 application has five modules; Library, Develop, Slideshow, Print, and Web. Scott tackles each of these modules for the digital photographer. He spends a considerable amount of time explaining local and global image adjustments, editing images, and fixing problem photos. Black and white conversion, exporting, slideshows, web galleries, and when and how to jump to Photoshop are comprehensive and beneficial for anyone navigating through Lightroom 3. The last two chapters are Scott’s 7-point Portrait Workflow and his 7-point Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 Workflow. These can be a bit generic for the advanced photographer but beginning photographers may find it helpful. There is removable white balance Develop module card at the back of the book that is a nice addition. This book is a true 480 pages (with three pages of  Kelby advertisements) but I guess you can’t fault someone for shameless self-promotion.

Scott tries to please the gamut of photographers, beginners to pros. He largely succeeds as he generously shares his Adobe software and photography knowledge. Both of these books are excellent references for both applications. There are many other Adobe Photoshop books that are not specifically for the photographer but artist or designer that go into considerable depth about layers and composites. Scott’s frame of reference is the digital photographer and both of these books are by my computer for quick reference. As long as Adobe and I continue to upgrade Photoshop and Lightroom, Scott Kelby’s books will continue to have a place on my shelf.

MyMac Review Rating: 8 out 10 for both books


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