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George DeWolfe's Digital Photography Fine Print Workshop [Paperback]

George Dewolfe
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

1 May 2006

Learn the secrets of fine art digital photography

Produce captivating and high-quality photographs easily and consistently with help from this invaluable guide, based on renowned photographer George DeWolfe’s most popular workshop. Inside, you will learn his “16-bit workflow” technique for mastering the craft of printing fine art photographs. You will also discover how to set up a successful “closed loop” environment--one in which you handle the entire photographic process yourself, sending nothing out for processing, manipulating, or development. Learning the qualities and techniques essential to creating a digital fine print with light, substance, and presence requires skill, experience, time, and vision. George DeWolfe’s Digital Photography Fine Print Workshop puts all of this expertise at your fingertips.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Osborne (1 May 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0072260874
  • ISBN-13: 978-0072260878
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 20.5 x 25.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 915,828 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

From the Back Cover

Learn the secrets of fine art digital photography

Produce captivating and high-quality photographs easily and consistently with help from this invaluable guide, based on renowned photographer George DeWolfe’s most popular workshop. Inside, you will learn his “16-bit workflow” technique for mastering the craft of printing fine art photographs. You will also discover how to set up a successful “closed loop” environment--one in which you handle the entire photographic process yourself, sending nothing out for processing, manipulating, or development. Learning the qualities and techniques essential to creating a digital fine print with light, substance, and presence requires skill, experience, time, and vision. George DeWolfe’s Digital Photography Fine Print Workshop puts all of this expertise at your fingertips.

  • Identify the six critical aesthetic qualities of a digital fine print
  • Choose and adjust color in Photoshop
  • Optimize detail and balance the image
  • Improve brightness, contrast, and color
  • Produce breathtaking fine art prints

About the Author

George DeWolfe, MFA, has been a photographer since 1964. He studied with Ansel Adams and Minor White in the 1970s. DeWolfe has been published widely, gives workshops and lectures nationwide, and his work is in several permanent collections.He is currently Senior Editor for Camera Arts, as well as a consultant to Epson and Adobe.

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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Digital Photography Fine Print Workshop 19 Oct 2009
This author knows how to put a book together that leads the reader through the process he has clearly devised as a result of many 'real time' workshops. Anyone wishing to improve their image output would find this book like having a personal tutor standing beside one. It is well written and amply illustrated and just technical enough to bring clarity to the endeavour. I would not have hesitated to give this a full five stars if it had been a little more up to date and able to deal with RAW processing with Lightroom. Perhaps a later edition covers this? However, there is more than enough here ( using Photoshop for both Mac & Windows ) for any serious photographer to get to grips with what can seem a bewildering task of producing really 'fine prints'.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars  17 reviews
107 of 112 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For Advanced Photoshop Users 27 May 2006
By Conrad J. Obregon - Published on
My grandmother was a great baker. But everything she did in creating a pie or cake came from memory or intuition. When my mother tried to create written recipes of my grandmother's procedures, she was frustrated by quantities like a handful of something or enough of something. My mother really lost it when my grandmother told her to roll out some dough until it looked right. If you can't deal with this kind of instruction, George DeWolfe may not be for you.

The book covers De Wolfe's recommendations for making a great digital print. I'd be overstating things if I said he never gives firm instructions but de Wolfe is more concerned with the feeling of a print than with specific rules. He says that there are six elements to control in making a print: cropping, contrast, brightness, color, defects and sharpness. He then proceeds to explain his workflow to deal with each of these issues, both globally and at a detail level.

This book is aimed at advanced users of Photoshop. Quite often the instructions that he gives to create a desired effect contain only the most significant steps in the process, leaving it for the reader to fill in the gaps. Occasionally he says that he is telling you all you need to know to use a particular Photoshop tool. For example he says that all you need to know to use the curves tool is that moving the curve upwards increases brightness and moving it downwards decreases brightness. That's hyperbole because there are other important functions of the curve tool that make it easier or more effective to apply.

DeWolfe sometimes favors some rather idiosyncratic tools to process images. Photoshop usually offers several approaches to accomplishing a task, but DeWolfe often selects the more unusual. For example DeWolfe prefers the use of the history brush to masks to effect adjustments to the image. He also suggests several procedures that other experts find problematic. For example, he says that, as a result of the nature of digital photography, detail sharpening is important early in the process as opposed to edge sharpening at the end of the process. Some other experts are less accepting of this approach.

I expected that a book called a workshop would require some participation by the reader beyond just reading. This might be tutorials or at least sample images to follow along with the text. Particularly when the author suggested some procedure that was counter-intuitive for me, it would have been nice if there had been an image to work from, either from a CD or downloaded from the internet.

DeWolfe regularly suggests that a Photoshop plug-in that he authored is the solution to a problem. I always wonder how impartial an author is when he suggests that you buy a product that he sells.

If you are just getting comfortable with Photoshop but want to move into more advanced techniques, I suggest starting with Rob Sheppard's "Outdoor Photographer Landscape and Nature Photography with Photoshop CS2". Its lessons are applicable to as many genres as DeWolfe's. On the other hand, if you are an experienced user and able to fill in the blanks when DeWolfe is skipping along, and if you are comfortable enough with Photoshop to decide whether you want to accept DeWolfe's techniques, this book will help you to examine your notions, get a better handle on a logical workflow and perhaps even learn procedures that are more useful to you then those you presently know.
94 of 98 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing 4 July 2006
By Darwin's Bulldog - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
George DeWolfe is an internationally recognized photographer. He is well known for his workshop on the master print, and I believe this book is based in part on this course. (I have not taken the course.)

It's important to realize that this book was written by a photographer with decades of experience in darkroom work. Thus visual evaluation of prints is paramount to obtaining his desired result. So DeWolfe recommends leaving auto settings off, and your eyes and brain to 'see' the print. The workflow he presents uses an approach I have not seen elsewhere, and my initial trials are very pleasing. He suggests that in Adobe Camera Raw, saturation be reduced to -100 to view a B&W version of the image, and adjusting to achieve the best image based on luminance values. Saturation is restored afterward. This makes perfect sense photographically, and it works! With too many Photoshop books being written by Photoshop gurus with little talent in photography, this is a breath of fresh air!

What disappoints here is that there are so few examples in the book on evaluating images. This is clearly DeWolfe's strong point and more would have been better. Indeed, he shows a number of "images from hell" he uses in his workshops to show case what can be done with his technique, but these are not included with the book, or available on his web site. He also describes a process he calls outlining, but unfortunately there are no explicit details.

In general, I would say that the author has assembled a collection of Photoshop techniques he has learned to use very well, and, of course will work for the reader. Many go back several versions in Photoshop, but are no longer current or best practice. For example, he describes a workflow which creates a set of layers for global, local and defect correction, based on a layer copy of the original image. This should lead to non-destructive adjustments, and in fact he recommends saving this layered version in case future adjustments are necessary. However, in one example, he applies separate balancing corrections to the left and right sides of image copy layer directly then saves the file. Neither of these changes can be re-adjusted individually, other than by adding more corrections on top, or deleting the layer copy and start over. It is quite possible to make identical adjustments using the gradient / mode technique on real layers that can be individually changed later.

This book promotes the use of a few specific tools, especially Optipix 3.1, to achieve certain outcomes that would usually require tedious and repetitious effort to achieve. I have no problems with this since several additional tools, as well as comparable Photoshop features are also discussed. An Optipix Demo is available for download and evaluation. Such time saver tools are wonderful if they meet your expectations.

His discussion of interpolation to larger image sizes is based on comparisons of third part tools with the Photoshop "bicubic" interpolation method. But Photoshop CS2 has a new and much better tool for this called "bicubic smoother" that improves greatly on bicubic. Thus you might be mislead into using a tool that is less capable than Photoshop. Again, trial versions will be useful before purchase.

The author devotes some attention to correcting color casts and white balance in Photoshop, an important and frequently needed adjustment. He totally omits any discussion of the use of gray cards in the establishment of more exact settings. While final white balance and color are always the prerogative of the artist, this seems really strange for an Ansel Adams 'trainee'.

Overall, I find the book decidedly under-edited. There are several areas where the reader can become confused. Pages 142 and 143 describe adjustment of overall contrast and brightness for grayscale images. However the resulting image has a distinct color cast vs the original gray. Looks very much like a selenium toned B&W print! Perhaps this is the intent, but it is not described as such. Pages 144 to 147 show a similar adjustment for color (RGB) images, yet the image appearing in the channel clipping displays is not the image being adjusted. Go figure.

On page 59, the use of a Wrattan 90 to previsualize contrast is described. This technique is well known. (Ansel Adams has given similar tools to his workshop students.) But the original photograph shown, as we discover later on page 178, is not the original image, but one greatly modified though the suggested workflow. So what is the Wrattan 90 really doing?

So, two stars for the fine and unique content provided by DeWolfe on visualization and use of desaturation in the image work flow. Follow his Photoshop technique initially, but read elsewhere for finer control in Photoshop. Let's hope the second edition has more DeWolfe!
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Photographer as Artist 2 Jun 2006
By Lydia Goetze - Published on
George DeWolfe sees the photographer as an artist, not a technician, yet his book provides the technical knowledge and shows how to use Photoshop to create consistently high quality fine art prints. Writing for the experienced photographer with a basic knowledge of Photoshop, DeWolfe begins by showing the photographer, with many examples, how to evaluate an image and decide what adjustments will bring out its special qualities. The experienced photographer has always used his or her understanding of how light, luminosity and color give life to an image, and has traditionally used various techniques in the darkroom to enhance them. DeWolfe begins by training the eye of the artist to see these elements and understand how they work. After showing the reader how to truly see the image and decide how to fine-tune it, DeWolfe then gives us a very detailed digital workflow which, once mastered, allows the photographer to produce excellent prints on a consistent basis. The workflow is clarified by many screen shots showing Photoshop techniques and before/after image adjustments. Those who think visually will find these particularly helpful.

DeWolfe's approach is to use the simplest techniques that can produce consistently fine results. (Some Photoshop users will be surprised by his use of the history brush instead of masking; as a photographer who uses this tool, I appreciate its simplicity and controlled results.) His focus is not on "tips-and-tricks in Photoshop", but on how to get the best possible prints in the simplest, most straightforward way. While a first reading gives valuable insights, the book's true value becomes evident when the photographer uses the workflow on his or her own images, and practices to become proficient. The proof, as they say, is in the print.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Having taken the workshop... 5 July 2006
By J. Brewton - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
...I can recommend this book to anyone wishing to simplify CS2 and achieve great results. Yes, the book does have a few problems as outlined by another reviewer and I will leave it at that. There are many, many tools available to the photographer in PS - too many in my opinion. George will guide the reader through adjustments in RAW, the usual histogram changes, etc. and then will detail the history brush. If you have never used this tool then the book is worth the money. In many cases when trying to dodge and burn you can damage the original image if not careful. Using the history brush changes all that with more precise corrections and more control over the results. If you are not shooting RAW, you will be and you'll know why after reading this book.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive coverage of digital photography 9 Mar 2007
By G. Okada - Published on
Reviewed by Bruce Herman

Member of the Alaskan Apple User's Group

Anchorage, Alaska

George DeWolfe's Digital Photography Fine Print Workshop is a significant departure from any of the other digital darkroom books that I've read. It was easily the most challenging because it presented so many new ideas in such a short book (255 pp.). Most other books rely heavily on global corrections that emphasize curves whereas DeWolfe relies more on levels, even for color corrections. Other authors apply local corrections with masks, but DeWolfe prefers to brush on corrections using the History Brush. Digital Fine Print Workshop was one of the most rewarding books about print making because it made me think about my photographs in new ways. This book grew out of the workshop that DeWolfe teaches

DeWolfe begins with an overview of what constitutes a digital fine print. He defines the terms brightness, color, contrast and so on, and then introduces the workflow that will be the central focus of the book. He gives a series of examples that provide the reader with a basis of distinguishing the good from the not so good for each of the qualities just defined. DeWolfe says that he has had a lifetime of developing his own appreciation of these characteristics. So it's a bit of a leap for a reader to expect to come up to speed by viewing a handful of photographs reproduced in a book. Here DeWolfe might have referenced some photographs on the Internet to give the student a bit more background.

Two aspects of DeWolfe's overall approach that set his book apart from most other digital print making books are his emphasis on separating the mid-tones and his concern for the quality of light in the print. I think that understanding these factors alone are likely to lead to vastly improved prints.

The second part of the book, titled "The Workshop," constitutes the core of the book. It is in this section that DeWolfe explains and illustrates in detail his personal vision of achieving the fine art print from a digital photograph. The workshop focuses on digital photography beginning with bringing the digital files from the camera into the computer and ends with making the print. DeWolfe covers techniques for dealing with both RAW and jpeg image files as they come off the camera. He does not mention scanning, although one could reasonably follow the workflow for jpeg images. In any case, he works with 16 bit files, which he claims allows him to use levels in Photoshop without encountering the gaps that arise when working with 8 bit files. My personal experience was that 16 bit files did not entirely preclude gapping, but it was not as bad as it would be with 8 bit files.

DeWolfe performs his artistry in two phases. He begins with global changes and then fine tunes the resulting photograph with local changes. One of the tools that DeWolfe uses is a plugin called Optipix. Although he discusses some techniques that substitute for Optipix, I found that using Optipix often made a step more likely to work as described. I would recommend purchase of this plugin ($139) if you wish to carefully follow DeWolfe's workflow.

It was in the application of the local corrections that I found the most difficulty in DeWolfe's approach. DeWolfe uses the history brush to make local corrections to almost all parameters of the photograph. He eschews masks as tools for graphic artists, preferring the history brush because it forces an artist to commit in order to move forward. Each reader of this book will have to make his or her own assessment of this view.

The Fine Print Workshop concludes with a brief description of what is required for a digital darkroom, including setting the preferences in Photoshop. This part of the book seems to be an attempt to broaden the appeal of the book to beginning digital photographers. Considering the level of complexity in executing the steps in the workshop, this almost seems out of place. That portion that deals with the software and hardware will be out of date long before the techniques described in the workshop pass into irrelevance.

DeWolfe's book grew out of the week long workshop by the same name that he teaches. Reading the book is not likely to be as good as taking the workshop, but it's far, far better than just reading the generic Photoshop how-to book. Despite the fact that I don't necessarily agree with all aspects of DeWolfe's workflow, I highly recommend this book. Just be sure to leave a reasonable amount of time to absorb the material and give it a fair appraisal.
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