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Requiem for the Best
on September 29, 2006
This book, and its predecessors for each iteration of Photoshop, are amongst the finest of the many instructional manuals on the software. This is because the book is not only comprehensive, but provides highly effective tutorials. These tutorials start with an image on the accompanying CD and lead the reader to modify that image step by step to a final image. Because of my admiration, I was shocked to read in the introduction that this was to be the last in the series. We will have to find our way through future Photoshop versions through other means.
This book covers almost everything a photographer would need to know about Photoshop CS2. (There are a few exclusions. A few editions ago the authors dropped reference to Image Ready, the software that comes bundled with Photoshop; I still keep an old volume around to consult when I want to make slices and buttons.) There's even a chapter on how to use the book that will let advanced users select just the chapters they need.
The book tells how to use all the Photoshop tools needed by a photographer, placing emphasis on the creation of a master image from which various forms of outputs, like web images and prints, can later be derived. The coverage of masks, blending modes, compositing images and Adobe Camera Raw are all excellent. Perhaps because I remember the chemical darkroom of my youth, my favorite chapter still remains "Digital Imaging and the Zone System" wherein the authors demonstrate that Photoshop is a legacy of the work of Ansel Adams.
It's important to realize that this is not an easy, quick read. Doing the exercises will take time, and nothing can be so frustrating as not getting the effect the authors suggested would occur, only to find on reexamination that you had misread or misinterpreted an instruction previously given. But you will learn to use Photoshop more effectively than any other book could teach you.
The authors are not afraid to express opinions. For example, their ringing endorsement of Epson printers is astonishing in this day and age when so many people try to curry favor with as many people as possible.
The accompanying CD includes a set of actions that can be loaded into Photoshop to automate the process. While I always resisted using these keys, I found that they include many of the actions that I created myself to help me along.
When photographers ask me for just one book on how to use Photoshop in all its aspects, I have always recommended this book. It saddens me to think that I may not be able to do that much longer.