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The Essential Photoshop Reference
on June 22, 2012
As each new version of Photoshop has been issued, it has become more capable and more complex. Similarly, for each version Martin Evening has issued a new edition of "Adobe Photoshop for Photographers" which is longer and covers the newest tools as well as the older tools. Whichever is the current edition in the series has become the "go-to" reference book next to my computer. The CS5 version is dog-eared and marked up with my hand-written summery index of items I consider especially important on the inside back cover. And given the sparse help provided by Adobe's on-line help facility, a reference book is more important than ever.
The book covers those aspects of Photoshop which will be helpful to photographers rather then graphic designers, including a lengthy discussion of Adobe Camera Raw processing and Bridge. (I would have included a short chapter on text even though that falls into the graphics area but Evening is unforgiving on this.) There is also a supporting web site, which contains not just images and movies, but lengthy PDFs that include subjects not in the book, like output for the web and Lightroom import workflow. Users should look at the website early on because it may contain just the material they are looking for. (For what it's worth, Evening, like many other serious photographers, apparently does much of his initial processing of images in Lightroom rather than Adobe Camera Raw, and uses Lightroom in preference to Bridge for image management.)
The book is so jam-packed with information that it's almost impossible to just read from cover to cover, especially since it is rather boring to read about a feature that one already knows. Instead I read chapter one on Photoshop Fundamentals in its entirety as Evening recommends, and chapter two on configuration, just in case there were any changes in the set-up introduced by CS 6. Thereafter I referred to particular sections (made easier by the excellent index) when I had a question. Some of these were simple, like how do I keep two copies of an image on the screen while I'm soft-proofing so that I can compare any adjustments I make to the soft proof to the original. Others were more complex like how to best use edge detection in making a selection, where the author provided not just an explanation of the sliders but also details on how he used the refine edges menu with several examples.
Even experienced users will probably find something new in the uses of Photoshop, even if it is just some combination of key strokes. This creates a Rumsfeldian problem which is how do we know what we do not know. For myself, I felt that there were probably a few techniques for using layers that I didn't know. I went to the chapters on layers, selections and masking and began reading. About half way through I found that some of the functions discussed were too esoteric for me and just skimmed those sections. Hopefully when I encounter a problem that one of these techniques will solve I'll return to the appropriate section.
Although Evening covers all the new features in PS CS6 in the book, there is no comprehensive list of these new features so that old hands will have to learn about the features from some other source, unless they are willing to go through the book page by page.
This is not a book for Photoshop beginners. It doesn't dwell on the step-by-step tutorials that make for the best introduction to Photoshop.
No serious Photoshop user should be without this reference text.