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Modern Photoshop Color Workflow The Quartertone Quandary, the PPW, and Other Ideas for Speedy Image Enhancement Paperback – 2013
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Photoshop color correction authority Dan Margulis introduces a disciplined, automated method of obtaining quality images in minutes. Traditional methods of color-correcting digital images date from when computing was slow, storage expensive and RAM minimal. Only the most important images could justify the cost. Such measures don't measure up to today. In his first book in more than 6 years, Dan Margulis rethinks the process from the ground up. He suggests a radically different workflow in which speed is critical and processing of multiple images is the rule, not the exception. His solutions are often highly automated, and the automation is made available for free, including a powerful PPW panel that serves as command central. Among the revolutionary ideas: •Color and contrast are never mixed; there are separate passes to eliminate color problems, to heighten contrast, and to make the color sing. •Many steps temporarily leave the image looking worse than before they were applied, so as to enable a superior final result. •For very important work, instead of proceeding slowly and carefully, go as quickly as if the job were a throwaway. Then, do additional quick versions from scratch and then blending the best of each variant. Tthe language is simple but the concepts are deep, cutting-edge, and covered comprehensively. The reader’s way of thinking is continually challenged with new ideas, sardonic comments, and the occasional quiz. Modern Photoshop Color Workflow is designed for an expert audience, yet the discussions of what makes for a good-looking image are accessible to all. As befits the modern age, the physical book is only the start of the experience. The supplied actions have hundreds of pages of PDF documentation. Readers have access to more than a dozen hours of supporting videos by the author and his friends, and can test their own skills with the scores of original images that the text shows how to correct.
Top customer reviews
The basic theory is: First correct color, even small color casts. Then increase contrast, essentially making a better B&W and then change the blending mode to luminosity. Then color boost intelligently. Also, there are specialized steps that fix odd cases. Finally, sharpening. The sharpening action has 150 steps. By itself, it almost worth the price of admission.
Suggestion 2: Do not read this like a novel. The book's chapters are well organized. The second half of each chapter are difficult for intermediates. Read the first halves, and start correcting. Later read the more advanced sections. Skipping around is fine. Each chapter almost self contained.
Suggestion 3: go the the website, watch the videos, and download the files. They are "private", but they grant access easily. They supplement the book nicely.
As the other reviewer stated, Dan's other book are nice but not a prerequisite. This book is not redundant either. (I do not know how he can write another 400+ pages of new color theory. Especially since he "retired".) The more you bring, the more you learn.
Bottom line: this methodology allows you to do better correction faster than before. Forget the sliders and the autocorrect buttons, the PPW makes better images.
I have read Dan's Professional Photoshop 3rd Ed. first and then Photoshop Lab Color before reading this book so the comparison with those other books is unavoidable.
First off I enjoyed reading this book and I found it rather interesting, so I do suggest buying it.
If you already know and despise Dan's style, ignore this review and don't buy it of course.
That said, I still have some mixed feelings about it, mostly derived by having read his other books and viewed a few videos online.
I really liked the workflow approach of this book, where the chapters follow the suggested order of the workflow steps (including a summary at the end of the boook).
What I didn't like as much was the repetition. I feel like there is some degree of repetition within this book - maybe you won't notice and it will be useful to you, but to me it made the book less interesting.
The other two books will also explain some topics with more detail so I felt like this book was sometimes targeted at beginners but other times, lacking certain information, to people who already ready his in-depth Lab book.
In conclusion: if you manage to read all three books as I did you will end up learning a lot of things. Professional Photoshop could be probably skipped but I strongly suggest reading the Lab book (the latest edition is from 2015, so even newer than this book).
Certain things that are better explained on one book, other things are better in the other book, while other times reading about a same topic twice, albeit in different ways, helps grasping the concept.
In this book, Dan generously shares what he's learned over the last 2 or 3 decades. As an added bonus, there is a companion web site with many informative videos. Beyond that, he has made available--for free--a Photoshop plug-in that takes the tedium out of his approach.
It still requires that you use your brain, however--it's just that you can use your brain to think about what the photo needs, not to think about how to execute complicated techniques. The only somewhat challenging parts are the initial adjustment of color using curves ("so that there is nothing obviously wrong with it") and possibly the subsequent contrast enhancement. After those are done, there are a number of tools and actions that can be used with ease, sometimes just to see what happens. The final results are usually big improvements, sometimes spectacularly so.
Dan's approach is unorthodox. For example, he suggests that the user aim to spend no more than 3 minutes on a correction. If additional time is available, he recommends developing another correction rather than spending more time on the first one, and then to blend the best of both for the final correction. One of the videos on the companion web site blends 8 separate such corrections, and the final result is superior to any of the individual corrections. I have been practicing, and though I don't quite have the speed down to 3 minutes per image, I am definitely beginning to understand the virtues of the multiple-corrections-then-blend style.
The book itself is delightfully written. Dan is extremely literate and his writing combines wit with technical detail, suffused with intelligence. It is a very enjoyable read. He has structured most chapters so that the first half tells you the basics and the second half provides extensive technical detail, and he invites readers to feel free to skip the second half if they just want to learn the main aspects of the approach. The second halves definitely get technical, and will repay repeated readings. But the first halves are considerably less demanding yet packed with useful information, especially if you are eager to try out the techniques to see what they can do.
I definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in the state-of-the-art in color correction.