Review: The Photoshop Book for Digital Photographers

This book is focused on how to edit and enhance your digital photos (November 20th, 2003)

MacNN Rating:


Product Manufacturer: Scott Kelby

Price: $40

The Good

  • Requires no previous Photoshop skills, Covers just about every subject regarding digital photography manipulation, easy to read, and NOT version dependent— will apply to current and future versions of Photoshop.

The Bad

  • No clear distinction between some of the “before” and “after” photographs

There are a number of ways to learn how to use software, or learn how to use it better. These include live classes, online seminars, surfing the web, video training, and of course books. I buy a lot of books in hope of learning new things and a lot of these books get read while others are just collect dust after a few chapters. One of them that still gets read, even after reading it cover to cover is Scott Kelby's Photoshop Book for Digital Photographers (New Riders Press).

This is not a "Teach Yourself Photoshop" book

While you will learn a lot about Photoshop from reading this book, this book is focused on how to work with, edit, and enhance your digital photographs. It just so happens to use Photoshop as the tool but is also a book clearly focused on digital photographic manipulation and enhancement.

Each chapter in this book is a number of mini lessons or guides to get a specific task completed. Chapter one is really the only chapter that I would say is one lesson for the entirety of the chapter, as Kelby covers the File Browser. I must admit I had used this feature scantly in the past and I really find myself using it all the time now.

Each subsequent chapter, after the initial commentary, has a number of mini-lessons on how to solve various problems or perform certain tasks, within the chapter's theme. For example Chapter 2 covers cropping and sizing and the 13 lessons within include:

  • Setting custom sizes
  • Creating customer crop tools
  • Adding canvas area and
  • Straightening crooked photos

Chapter 3 focuses on fixing problems in your digital images, with the sections including:

  • Compensating for too much flash
  • Digital noise
  • Removing color aliasing
  • Underexposed photos and
  • Red eye removal, and eye recoloring

These are just a few of the ten items covered in perfect detail. Other chapters cover color correction, masking, retouching, body sculpting, and special effects, just to name a few.

After trying a number of the techniques, I was pleased to notice that most of them work exactly as described. They gave me a broad range of new Photoshop techniques that I could have never tackled in the past.

Before and After

It is hard to find many downsides to this book. However, some of the example photographs in the book which are supposed to exemplify the "before" effect are often hard to discern from their "after" counterparts. Maybe it was my printing of the book but nonetheless, it was there. Also, many example photographs in the book have solid backgrounds rendering the examples to seem easy to reproduce. When I applied the techniques in real world situations such as removing love handles, I reached a roadblock! Nothing was noted about having complicated backgrounds.

At over 350 pages, this book is beautifully laid out and can be read while doing the tasks in front of your Macintosh, or independently at your leisure. Kelby's style goes from conversational and humorous for the chapter introductions to informative and detailed for the actual guts of each topic. Sometimes he tries a bit too hard to be funny but he usually succeeds nonetheless. I actually read the book cover to cover while on vacation without my computer and then came back to relevant sections when I returned with my vacation photos. My pictures are not only superior after the modifications, but now I am also able to compose my photos better to make the future enhancements easier.

by Joshua D. Wachs


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