Top critical review
Good idea poorly executed
on 15 October 2015
I have mixed feelings about this book.
First, the basic idea is very good. Most Photoshop books put together a number of techniques which are useful by themselves, but leave you guessing when it comes to actually enhancing a photograph.
It happens all too often: you have taken an image of a wonderful scene, but what the camera produced is a big letdown. How to bring back the liveliness that you remember? You have loaded the image in Photoshop, but how to even start?
This book is supposed to answer these questions. As such, it is definitely useful for all photographers wishing to get the most out of their images.
However, the execution leaves a lot to be desired. Kelby presents his 7-point workflow without properly elaborating what each "point" comprises. Yes, we have a 7-page overview at the beginning of the book (mostly filled with images rather than explanatory text) and a 1-page cheat sheet at the end. Those are by no means sufficient. Which of the 7 steps apply to which image and why? These essential questions are not at all addressed by Kelby. Instead, he talks us through 21 example images. All right to see a number of examples, but not enough to get a proper understanding of the decisions that must be taken by the retoucher.
To make things worse, Kelby throws in some "down and dirty tricks" here and there like replacing a bad sky or local spot retouching work. If such actions are part of the workflow, fine, but list them as separate steps and explain at which phase they should be executed. The way it's included now only obscures the process.
At the moment a second-hand copy of this book can be attained for just a few quid. The book dates back to 2007, and no update has since been published. Despite my reservations, this is a shame. It seems there is not much interest in Photoshop workflow books. Few other books exist that present a full image enhancement workflow. The only other one that I am aware of is Dan Margulis' Modern Color Workflow. That book is a lot harder but at least explains the workflow instead of just going through a bunch of examples.