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Digital Photography / Photoshop Book Reviews

The following is my selection of books and magazines related to digital photography and Photoshop. These are not books on how to take photos, rather they are books that focus on digital side of the process: workflow, retouching, color management, techniques, etc.

Photoshop Book Reviews

Book Cover Author Review

Photoshop CS: Art of
Photographing Women

Kevin Ames
  • Excellent guide to using Photoshop for retouching. Only book I have seen that has a section on non-destructive Photoshop editing workflow.
  • Book is in full-color, which is a necessity for a book of this type.
  • One of the few books with a complete set of high-resolution downloads (from the web) so that you can work along with the chapter tutorials. Most books either don't provide the images or only give low-resolution samples, so this is a huge plus.
  • Designed for intermediate Photoshop users.
  • I didn't like the section on the "Barbie" transformation as much, and would have prefered a more realistic full-body adjustment workflow instead.
  • Does not go into detail on how or why steps are done, so it is not a good book to learn how Photoshop tools work. Instead, it is focused more on the workflow and techniques one might use to accomplish certain retouching tasks and issues. Some steps are fairly high-level, meaning that you will have to rely on your experience to fill in the occasional gap.
  • Overall, I would have to highly recommend this book for Photoshop retouching, but only to those who are already comfortable with Photoshop's feature set.

Color Correction

Michael Kieran
  • Full color. Includes a CD with low-res versions of the photos in the book, which wasn't particularly useful.
  • Significant background text.
  • The only book I have seen which thoroughly discusses the theory behind color correction and how to treat it. Correction concepts are given in LAB, CMYK and RGB.
  • Extensive coverage of the use of the Levels and Curves features of Photoshop. Moderate discussion on sharpening and how to select the USM variables. Also good description of contrast and channel mixing.
  • I found some of the correction examples difficult to follow because values and decisions were made without enough explanation.
  • Unfortunately, the choice of font and non-justified text made it more difficult to read than other books I've seen.
  • The book is very technical and is not suitable for a beginner user. A good number of intermediate users will also probably find a lot of the material to be overwhelming, too.

Photoshop CS Book
Digital Photographers

Scott Kelby
  • Another cookbook-style tutorial book, much like Scott Kelby's other "Down & Dirty Tricks" guides. These are great for those who learn by doing, rather than listening to the theory behind each tool first.
  • Focuses primarily on topics that would be of use for digital photographers, including: retouching, masking, body-sculpting, black & white, sharpening, workflow, typical photo troubles, noise and presentation effects.
  • Good for learning how to solve photo quick-fixes without getting caught up in how everything works, but it also means that you won't really learn why you are doing certain steps.
  • Full color gloss.

Photoshop CS
Classroom in a Book

Adobe Creative Team
  • Black & white, with no color images (except for a few useless color plates).
  • CD contains the files from each lesson.
  • Only useful for a beginner to Photoshop, one who needs to see where all the tools are and roughly what they do, and not get caught up in how they work.
  • Progresses through 20 lessons, sampling many of Photoshop's features. Five of these lessons are directed towards using ImageReady CS for generating web page graphics.
  • Although this book is intended to help you "learn by doing", I didn't find it particularly interesting. I found it very dry and uninspiring, unlike many other Photoshop books. For a book on Photoshop, I think having a good assortment of color images is essential.
  • While it certainly isn't written as a reference manual, it does a better job at instructing the basics than the Kelby recipe-style of book, in that it gradually builds up on the toolset and concepts.

Photoshop CS
Down & Dirty Tricks

Scott Kelby
  • Perhaps the best known of the Photoshop publications, these Down and Dirty Tricks guides have been the recipe book of choice for Photoshop users for years
  • Each guide is released with each successive release of Photoshop, and most of the material is completely new for each version
  • Full color contents full of screenshots from every step of each tip
  • Downloads from the web are available only for the most recent versions of the book, and are only low-resolution. They can be found here.
  • This book (and all others in the Down & Dirty Tricks series) do very little in the way to teaching how the tricks work, or how to use Photoshop (for example, no explanation is given as to why certain layer blending modes are chosen). It should be regarded as a "recipe" book. For a recipe book, this one is very thorough in dictating every step.
  • A lot of interesting ideas, and starting points for your own explorations. Tips and tricks cover areas from photo editing, stylistic text, studio effects, etc.
  • For beginner to intermediate Photoshop users, this book provides a wide collection of inspirational ideas, and the step-by-step paths to achieve them. However, from the perspective of learning why you are performing particular steps, this book does very little.

Photoshop CS /
ImageReady CS
Hands on Training

Tanya Staples
  • Black & white. CD contains exercises and demo movies.
  • Probably the best book on ImageReady (using Photoshop for the web)
  • Good background on how to optimize your images for the web, and how to improve one's productivity through the use of layers and automation.
  • Great section on how to interface Photoshop with other programs (such as Macromedia Dreamweaver MX), which is often done but rarely explained.
  • Although ImageReady CS is not a particulary good web design tool, it is still useful for designing the graphics and slices used by other tools. Thus, this book will be very useful for those who which to explore this multi-tool approach.

Photoshop CS
Studio Techniques

Ben Willmore
  • Full color, includes CD-ROM
  • Excellent book that provides extensive coverage of Photoshop CS's toolset and how to use it.
  • Starts from the very basics of the Photoshop window and palettes and then moves on to the essential techniques.
  • Decent section on the Curves tool (35 pages).
  • Reasonable coverage of the Adobe Camera Raw import tool.
  • Explores some advanced techniques (eg. complex masking) and always offers shortcuts to expedite one's workflow.


Digital Photography Book Reviews

Book Cover Author Review

Digital Photography
Expert Techniques

Ken Milburn
  • Full color.
  • A fair amount of material uses Photoshop CS, although there are also sections which are of a more general nature (eg. taking photos, panoramics, workflow, archiving, naming, printing, framing and selling).
  • Reasonable sampling of many digital photography issues, which would be very appropriate for those who are new to digital photography.
  • Not as detailed on the individual features as other books in the category, but the broad coverage makes it fairly unique.

Real World
Color Management

Bruce Fraser,
Fred Bunting,
Chris Murphy
  • The authoritive text on everything about color management.
  • A reasonable assortment of color photos and diagrams to support the concepts, which are written in an easy-to-read conversational tone.
  • Excellent coverage of every part of a color managed workflow and how each of these steps evolved over time.
  • Discusses: why color management is important, color theory, color spaces, ICC profiles, a significant focus on profiling / calibrating, and some discussion on how various software packages deal with color management.
  • This is an extremely good book for learning the fundamentals of color management, and it is fairly detailed.
  • Targeted towards "intermediate to advanced" readers, it quickly gets into fairly complex subjects.


Digital Photography / Photoshop Magazine Reviews

Magazine Cover Review

Digital PhotoPro

  •  A digital photography magazine that is more directed towards the technical and/or pro side than most other magazines.
  • Great in-depth articles on everything from workflow to sensor dust.

photoshop user

  • Official magazine for NAPP (National Association of Photoshop Professionals) 
  • Companion website.
  • Great articles, some product (software & hardware) reviews, and a few Kelby-style tips.
  • Somewhat pricey for what you get, but the companion website does offer some additional downloads.

Photoshop Focus Guides

  • Small-sized magazine, full color matte, occasional issues.
  • Comes with a CD.
  • Each issue focuses on a particular topic (eg. photo enhancements, filters, etc.)
  • Moderately detailed text supporting each tutorial.

Digital Creative Arts

  • Oversized magazine, full color gloss, occasional issues.
  • Comes with a CD.
  • Many full-color tutorials with extensive step-by-step screenshots.
  • Wide variety of tutorials, a nice alternative to the Kelby tips. Reasonable amount of text to explain each step.


Reader's Comments:

Please leave your comments or suggestions below!
2011-01-13Andy Karr
 I would like to submit a forthcoming photography book for review on your site. The book is The Practice of Contemplative Photography: Seeing the World with Fresh Eyes.

This is a richly illustrated book about the art of photography that emphasizes developing one's ability to see. It offers a practical system of instruction that has been developed and refined through twenty-five years of courses and workshops. The system skillfully applies the wisdom of Buddhist teachings on perception and creativity to the contemporary art of digital photography.

This book includes: an introduction to basic ideas about the role of mind in photography and ways of accessing natural creativity; a step-by-step guide to contemplative photography practice, including experiential exercises and shooting assignments; a three-part method for shooting fresh, uncontrived images; and a deep appreciation for the joy of seeing. It is a book that will transform the way people see, and the way they take photographs.
 Thanks Andy! Looking forward to its release.
 This is excellent, and amazing such as a beginner in photoshop .and I want to study of all these type of seeting

The Art of Photoshopping Women, hmmm I want to get that book. Can't say no to extra help.



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