Photoshop Blending Modes Cookbook for Digital Photographers: 49 Easy-to-follow Recipes to Fix Problem Photos and Create Amazing Effects (Ilex Digital Studio) Paperback – 14 Nov 2005
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"A thorough hands-on set of lessons on the mysteries of one of Photoshop's most powerful features. Read and learn." -- Advanced Photoshop Magazine, January, 2006
About the Author
JOHN BEARDSWORTH is a photographer and writer with a wealth of experience photographing both digitally and on film. He is the author of Step-by-Step Digital Black-and-White Photography, Photoshop Blending Modes Cookbook, Photoshop Fine Art Effects Cookbook, Digital Photographer's Guide to Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, and Advanced Digital Black & White Photography.
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The book is divided into three main sections. The first is a general section called "Getting Started with Blending Modes". The next section, "Blending Modes in Detail", describes each of the modes. Finally the cookbook recipes are presented, with an illustration of effects and the steps necessary to achieve those effects. Like most cookbooks, the recipes don't explain what each step does, but the reader can easily refer to the first two sections to understand what is happening.
A typical recipe is one called "Woodworm". It creates an image which looks like an old woodblock with tints from the original photograph. The process of creating the image involves inverting two duplicate layers of the original picture and combining them using the "hard mix" and "pin light' modes".
The recipes presented fall into two camps. In the first very subtle changes are made to a picture to improve it, such as softening too hard a light in a portrait, or cooling down skin tones. Most users of Photoshop will find these recipes helpful. Usually, Photoshop offers some other tool that can achieve similar results.
Most of the images created by using the recipes in the second camp are so different from the originals and so stylized that I don't know if they can be referred to as photographs. There is no doubt that using these recipes can create unique images. The author clearly shows the before and after, with several variations, of each of the latter recipes. However, it's my guess that most photographers will find it hard to visualize most of the results that can be achieved on their own photographs using the recipes provided by the author. On the other hand followers of Freeman Patterson, Andre Gallant or other impressionistic photographers will certainly be interested in these techniques.
Beardsworth's presentation is clear and experienced Photoshop users will have no difficulty in following these recipes. On the other hand, whether you want to achieve many of the results that can be reached by using blending modes in many of the ways that the author presents will depend on the individual photographer. Anyone interesting in developing their Photoshop skills will certainly benefit from exploring blending modes.
Despite all these pluses, the book suffers from numerous editing and layout problems. There are typographical mistakes, there are missing page numbers (!), and the format is quite confusing (and is only "saved" in some instances by the fact that there are lots of fairly large example images, so that it's possible to see what was done, without needing to follow the text).
Finally, potential purchasers should know that one of the author's favourite blend modes is 'Hard Mix', which was initially introduced in Photoshop CS, but remains a sort of oddball in the full list of blending modes. (Personally, I've found no good reason to upgrade beyond Photoshop version 7, and would note that there are independent means of simulating, and even exceeding, what 'Hard Mix' is shown to provide in the book.)
Overall, it seems to me that the attributes of the book outweigh its negative points - and that it might be useful to consider as a way of expanding creative image-building options for those with interests in web-based graphics as well as advanced photography and fine art.
By Bakari Chavanu
Photoshop Blending Modes Cookbook
for Digital Photographers
by John Beardsworth
US $[...] CAN $[...]
Amateur and professional photographers use Photoshop mainly to enhance their photographs. Anyone using this powerful program knows what magic it can do when simple features like color enhancement, increased saturation, cropping, and unsharp masking are applied to their images.
It's hard to tell how most people use Photoshop, but I would say that many of its layer blending modes are rarely used non-professionals unless you're lucky to have a deep creative streak within you that makes you wince at simple straight forward images that most photographers produce.
Flip through any creative, cutting edge magazine or website and you'll discover what professional and crafty users of Photoshop are doing with photography. Up until flipping through John Beardsworth's Photoshop Blending Modes Cookbook for Digital Photographers, I had little appreciation and knowledge for what could be done if you would only stretch the the use of Photoshop beyond the quick fixes and enhancements.
Beadsworth's book is part of what seems to be a very good series of digital cookbooks that illustrate how to play around and deepen your use of Adobe Photopshop for retouching and photo effects.
The book can be used with any version of Photoshop, but many of the recipes rely on the Hard Mix blending mode that was first introduced in Photoshop CS. Beardsworth explains that this mode "reduces an image to just eight pure colors" which basically brings about a very increased sharpening effect.
Now if you're not an avid Photoshop user yet, don't let all the technical terms scare you away. The best way to use this book is to simply run into Photoshop's kitchen like a kid and mix stuff around. Whatever you don't like can be undone (Command-Z) or not saved. Whatever you create can simply be "Save-As", keeping your original photo intact and your new creation as a separate file. Nothing to waste here. All you need is time and an willingness to experiment.
The heart of the blending modes can be found right in the Layer's Palette of Photoshop. There you'll find a list of blends that you typically apply after copying the original background of a selected image.
Simply applying one or more these modes can get you cooking. My examples don't do justice the wealth of this book, but I just want to show what you can do in a few minutes of blending stuff together in Photoshop. A simple Color Halftone effect with Blur adjustment turned this photograph into what could be a more useful artistic image.
If the above is little too much for you, how about something closer to home? Beardsworth includes numerous blend recipes for portrait shots.
This Soft glow blend was done simply by making three layer copies of the original photo and adding darken and screen layers (again, blending modes), plus a mix of Gaussian blur for the soft focus effect.
There are 49 blending recipes in this colorfully illustrated book. Each one is presented with step by step instructions with a screen shot of the layer's pallet and controls used to make a particular blend. Beardsworth explains what is taking place with the various blend modes when they are applied to an image, but quite frankly you'll never understand the deep underpinnings without cooking up lots of recipes and playing around the cabinet of spices-I mean, menu controls and tools.
I find it fun to just to open an image, make a copy of its layer (Command-J), highlight the selection mode in the tool bar, and use the Shift-+ key combination to cycle through the various blend modes to see what I get. It's almost like coloring easter eggs, though Beardsworth instructions and expertise provide you with better outcomes.
Here's another one I did using one of the photos in the hefty folder of images that you can download from the book's companion website.
This typical type shot is turned into something very artistic and funky in a matter of minutes.
Again, it's just means adding a mixture of Hard Mix, a little Hue/Saturation adjustment, opacity reduction, and a drop of blur to soften the effect. This would make for a very useful illustration in a magazine.
One of my first thoughts when using this book that these recipes would make great Photoshop actions, but as Beardsworth points out, blending is not just about layering an original photo with various blending modes, but it also entails understanding unique requirements for the images you're working with. In his words, actions are not "magic bullets" that will give you instant and powerful creations. You have to experiment and eventually understand how blending modes work. Of course, any of your favorite blending recipes could be turned into actions to be used over and over again.
I've done a handful of blends so far (see my Flickr set [...]), but now I want to go back and reread the sections on the how, when, and why of blending modes, so that I can figure out for myself what modes and processes I might use for my photos with or without the use of the book. It's really all about understanding how blending modes/layers affect how Photoshop renders colors that have come from the original image. By doing several, and often similar, recipes in this book, you immerse yourself in the process and as a result learn something new and different each time in the process.
Thus, I would say this book is more for intermediate users of Photoshop-users who know what layers are and can already do basic and necessary adjustments to original photos before jumping in and using blending modes. Blend modes won't always fix photos that haven't been processed for color contrast, exposure adjustment, and so forth. This book is not an introduction to Photoshop, but it's a very useful one to add to your library if you're seeking to master another part of this powerful program.
Perhaps as a follow-up to this review, I will review a few other related books from O'Rielly's Cookbook series.
5 out 5 stars
If you're unfamiliar with blending in Photoshop, it's basically the process of combining multiple layers in different ways (of usually the same photograph) to produce aesthetically pleasing results. It's surprising how combining an image with itself can potentially produce so many varied results.
I'm certainly no Photoshop expert, and maybe that's why I really enjoyed this book. Blending is a subject where I have a lot of trouble, and this book did an excellent job of showing a "Before" picture, shows how to perform the specific blend (e.g. reduce digital artifacts), and then shows the "After" picture. This type of step-by-step process with pictures (especially for Photoshop) really helps and makes the various "recipes" very intuitive and easy to follow.
This is a great book for giving some of your digital photos that extra help they might need. This book certainly gave me some ideas for improving some of my photos-and I think that was the author's point.
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