To see all the books and videos that we've reviewed to date, organized by category go to All Book Reviews.
Each month we review two to three books that we'd recommend to readers. Many more than that come across our threshold. Unfortunately most of the eBooks we've received haven't lived up to the potential of this new medium. Many were too short, poorly written, poorly organized or all of the above.
We hope that John Shaw's new eBook Photoshop Field Guide is the beginning of a trend. At 208 pages it's meaty, and it's no surprise given John's previous books that this one is well written, nicely illustrated and well organized.
But should you look at this book? After all there is no shortage of Photoshop books on the market. In short I liked its focus "All I want to do is to make a good print. I don't want to make composite images by taking a tree from one photo, a wolf from another, those humpback whales from a third, and putting them into a shot of the Grand Canyon." I truly cannot count how many times I've read similar words in our reader's emails. To that end John starts with the basics, covers calibrating your monitor and using a two monitor setup, which is truly the way to go if you spend a lot of time editing images.
Individual chapters concentrate on the things that photographers want Photoshop to do such as Four ways to tone down a sky, Removing color casts, Sharpening and Combining two exposures.
John made the decision to focus on specific hardware and software: Photoshop, Epson printers and Nikon film scanners. The tradeoff being those who've made similar choices will benefit from the detailed information here, while those who haven't will need to extrapolate. The good news is these are pretty common hardware/software choices.
But perhaps the best news is John's writing style. An amazing number of Photoshop books are dense, dry tomes that could put an insomniac into a coma. John's writing style is approachable and engaging. This book is never painful going. Best of all by the end of this book you'll be able to produce prints that look as though they were produced by a gallery. Our only criticism, and it is a small one, is that information on obtaining the Adobe Acrobat reader is contained in a readme file. We would like to have seen the reader included on the disk, or barring that a self loading HTML file with an explanation of how to obtain the reader and a link.
Price $30 including shipping ($38 outside the U.S.), requires the Adobe Acrobat Reader to order click here.
to See Creatively
"I'm a good photographer. I've got good skills. I've got good equipment. But somehow I only get good images. They're never quite great images."
If that sounds familiar you might benefit from Bryan Peterson's book. Throughout Bryan starts with good images and dissects the process of turning them into great images. It's often subtle differences in composition, color and light that make the difference. In some cases it's in the post processing or in Photoshop.
You go along while Peterson picks apart his images. He pushes, prods, recomposes and adjusts. As you read along you get the impression you're looking over his shoulder at the light table and the computer while he explains why he made the decisions he did, what worked and what didn't. Beginners will learn that even the pros aren't perfect and intermediate photographers will gain a new appreciation for the huge gains to be found in subtle adjustments. Experienced shooters will benefit from the refresher and will come away with at least a few ideas.
Learning the process of seeing your images differently, and how to tear them apart constructively is the real benefit of this book.