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Vivid Light Photography, digital and film photography online

Digital Image Making, A complete Visual Guide for Photographers
By Les Meehan
Paperback, 128pp.
ISBN: 0817454535

This book is the polar opposite of the book reviewed below. Where Lynch's approach is to get you a master's in Photoshop Elements. Meehan's book is laid out for the person who learns by tinkering and futzing around with images. The book isn't geared to a specific image editor. Instead ideas and concepts are presented in a short format with a couple of examples and some background information. It's enough that you can take that concept and go explore it and play with it. You can jump around and try things out as the mood strikes you. You're not limited to strictly following the text. Explore all the concepts presented here and you'll have a good foundation. I especially like the chapter on common sense color calibration.

The effectiveness of the book depends on your learning style. If you have no patience for structure and learn through hands on experimentation this is the book for you. If you're looking for a structured approach read on.

Kodak Guide to 35mm PhotographyThe Hidden Power of Photoshop Elements 2
By Richard Lynch
Paperback, 336pp. incl. CD
ISBN: 0782141781

If you're going to do more than rudimentary image editing you'll outgrow basic editors, the kind included free with digital cameras and printers, pretty quickly. While most publications (including Vivid Light) highlight Photoshop as an image editing standard, it is simply too complex and too expensive for many photographers. Adobe's own solution is Photoshop Elements. It's designed to give photographers the tools they need to edit and prepare photos, while leaving out much of the complexity of it's big brother. But what about those photographers who want to push Elements to its limits.

Enter Richard Lynch. Unlike many reference books we'd recommend that you treat this one as a workbook. If you work the examples from front to back your understanding of Elements will go way beyond most. This isn't an easy text. It will take quite a few hours to work through it all. On the plus side is an enclosed disk which includes many example images that you can work right along with the text. This helps tremendously in understanding what the author is trying to convey. The disk also includes a tool set to "unlock disabled features" and extend the functionality of Photoshop Elements. I wasn't able to wring out the tools as I have Photoshop installed (not Elements) on my computer. But looking through the tools they do indeed add quite a bit of functionality.

If I have one criticism of the text it's that Lynch assumes the reader has knowledge of the jargon of image editing. There will be times, I'm sure, where readers will be scratching their heads trying to understand the meaning of all the terms. But if you stick with it Lynch will guide you over the learning curve. In the end it's a good text for those who learn best in a linear fashion. Meehan's book (at the top of this page) will better serve those who dive in and learn by fiddling.

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