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Essential for Digital Photographers
on 29 March 2004
With just a few of the techniques that I picked up in this book - Shadow/Highlight, Auto Colour, (Tone) Levels and Unsharp Mask - I've been able to dramatically improve the quality of a recent set of holiday snaps. And by spending only a couple of minutes per snap too! The Shadow/Highlight feature, in particular, is absolutely fantastic. (It's new to CS, before all you Photoshop 7 owners try to find it.)
I wouldn't say prior use of Photoshop itself is a requirement for reading this book, but familiarity with some kind of graphics package definitely is. A lot of the techniques use layers, so if you don't know what a layer is then you're going to struggle. I'd used levels in Paintshop Pro and had no problem with them in Photoshop.
The book is written in a down to earth, often very jokey style. The jokes are usually pretty awful by the way (and I think the author knows it!) but they never get in the way of the information being dispensed. The author gives real world examples too. So rather than a "if you move this slider to the right it increases the effect of saturation in the picture" approach that you get from other books, this author actually TELLS you what to do. E.g, "for an indoor portrait you want values of X, Y, Z in that dialog, but if it's a landscape then you put A, B and C in there"... and so on. He usually has more than one approach to any given situation too. So, if one of his techniques doesn't do it for you there's usually another one or two alternatives to try.
One very minor quibble for me, as an amateur: a good chunk of the book - probably about a quarter of it - is aimed squarely at professionals. It's not that the professional techniques are any harder to understand, it's just that there's few situations in which I can envisage using them. For example, I'm never going to be doing photographs for Estate Agents in which I need to replace a pissing-down-with-rain sky with a nice sunny one. Neither do I think I'll refer to the numerous pages on how to remove people's wrinkles, moles and other skin blemishes. (I'm with Oliver Cromwell on that one).
As I said though, that's a very minor quibble and in no way does it subtract from the value of this excellent book.