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Book Review: Adobe Photoshop CS4 For Photographers: A Professional Image Editor’s Guide To The Creative Use Of Photoshop For The Macintosh And PC By Martin Evening

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If you want to learn how to use Photoshop to improve your photos, then who better to learn it from than a professional photographer who not only uses Adobe Photoshop, but is in on the ground floor as an alph/beta tester for the product? Because of the complexities of updating a book like this every time that Adobe comes out with a new version, and with the fact that Adobe rarely takes anything out of Photoshop, but always adds new features makes it that more complex.

To this end, Martin Evening has focused on the essential information that you need to know about Photoshop Camera Raw, Bridge, and all of the new features in Photoshop CS4. To do this there are some things that have been removed and others that been reworked with the help of Jeff Schewe and have been put into a book called Photoshop for Photographers: The Ultimate Workshop.

While Adobe Photoshop CS4 For Photographers is not a beginner's guide, over the years, the content has been adapted for a broader readership. Even so, it is still a reference book for all things Photoshop and working with photographs. There is a reason the subtitle begins with "A Professional Image Editor's Guide…"

Adobe Photoshop CS4 For Photographers is really a reference book for both advanced amateur and professional photographers. It is a listing of every conceivable technique that a photographer may need to implement in the pursuit of creating digital photographic images using Adobe Photoshop. It contains 15 chapters covering over 700 pages.

Chapters 1-2 are more of an introduction to the changes and new features that come with Adobe Photoshop CS4 as well as a guide to the physical layout of Photoshop interface. You will also see how to configure Photoshop to optimize your computer as well as what accessories you may want to help you in your work.

Chapter 3, "Camera Raw Image Processing," has really grown and taken on a life of its own. Because you can process your JPEG and TIFF files, as well as your RAW images this has become a significantly larger chapter is focusing much more on the subject than ever before. Chapter 4, "Sharpening and Noise Reduction," examines pre-sharpening your photos in Photoshop. This topic was all but untouched in previous versions, but now with the advances in Camera Raw, it has become much more important.

Chapter 5, "Image Editing Essentials," gets into specifics about editing a photograph outside of Camera Raw. There are some techniques that overlap with information in previous chapters, but now include images that have never been near to Camera Raw. Here you will learn about the fundamentals of image editing. Chapter 6, "Black and White" will show you how to create black and white images from original color images. It also explores cross processing, infrared effects, and other darkroom-related techniques.

Chapter 7, "Extending the Dynamic Range," is all about capturing the greatest range of tones from the minimum shadows to the brightest highlights. In this chapter you will look at various techniques for getting the most from your images. Chapter 8, "Image Retouching," examines the basic techniques for modifying an image and giving it a more professional look. These include working with the Clone Stamp tool, the Healing brush, the Patch tool, Liquefy tool, and many more.

Chapter 9, "Layers, Selections, and Masking," looks into what it takes to make composite images. Here you will use different image elements to create something totally new. This all begins with making selections, and working with channels. Chapter 10, "Essential Filters for Photoshop Editing," gets into one of the more powerful features of Photoshop; the plug-in filters. Instead of trying to look at all of the 100 or so filters that in Photoshop, you will focus on the 15 or so that are useful for photographic work.

Chapter 11, "Image Management," is all about the use of Adobe Bridge to allow you to preview images, choose the one you want to open in Photoshop, perform ranking, add metadata, and other basic file management tasks. Chapter 12, "Color Management," will introduce you to the basic concepts of color management and look at the color management interface of Photoshop.

Chapter 13, "Print Output," is the printer version of color management. Here you will look at what it takes to get images to print so that they more truly represent what you see on the screen. Chapter 14, "Output for the Web," shows that unlike the printer, when dealing with sending your images to the Web, you really have no control of who will see your work on the Web, and therefore, no control over how the image is viewed on their system. Here you will learn how to get the best output for online distribution. Chapter 15, "Automating Photoshop," looks at how you can speed your work by using keyboard shortcuts, creating actions, and how to use scripts to automate Photoshop.

One point to note, there is a DVD that comes with the book. On the DVD, comes many of the images you see in the book. Not all of the images are included. In the introduction the author explains that some of the images in the book; especially the ones with the models, are of restricted use and can not be given away. There are also movie tutorials, additional tips, and a keyboard reference guide.

To me Adobe Photoshop CS4 For Photographers is just about the most important reference book I have. It covers just about all aspects of Photoshop and presents them with an eye toward the photographer. It is written by a professional photographer for professional photographers. It covers both the Mac and Windows in a clear and concise manner. For intermediate and advanced Photoshop users, it is the definitive word on Photoshop. Now, even for the beginner, it will make you that advanced user. For anyone who is serious about Photoshop, Adobe Photoshop CS4 For Photographers is a must have.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.