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Book Review: Adobe Photoshop CS4 For Photographers – The Ultimate Workshop by Jeff Schewe And Martin Evening

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One of the problems with Adobe Photoshop, according to the authors of Adobe Photoshop CS4 For Photographers – The Ultimate Workshop , is that the engineers at Adobe keep adding things to their product and seldom take anything out. That leads to more to write about, which in turn leads to a larger book. This time, Martin Evening decided to focus on the fundamentals of Photoshop and leave the functionality of what you can do with Photoshop to a separate volume.

Adobe Photoshop CS4 For Photographers – The Ultimate Workshop is thus a tutorial-based book that doesn’t just show you how to use Photoshop, but rather explains the planning process, as well as describing some of the photographic techniques that are used to get the shot. This book is 400 pages and is divided in to seven chapters. There is also a DVD that contains two hours of video tutorials, images from the book, and the actions and plugins to automate Photoshop. One thing to note is at the top of each page is a little Photoshop style icon in the top margin that has the letters “Me” or “Js” to indicate which of the authors wrote the section.

With Chapter 1, “Before you Shoot,” you really have to take your time. The shoot is just as meaningful because it is all a part of the workflow. While you can use Photoshop to manipulate an image, most of the time it is more efficient to fix it in the camera. The best way to get it right in the camera is to plan before you shoot. The main thrust of this chapter is to learn when it is easier to do it in Photoshop, and when it is easier to get the shot first.

Chapter 2, “Raising your IQ,” means knowing how to get the best digital results from your camera. These techniques can mean different ways of shooting, the choice of lenses, and using Camera Raw to carry out initial processing. Camera Raw is designed to make mass adjustments quickly, accurately, and efficiently where as Photoshop is for finetuning those special images. Here you will look at how to optimize images, essential image editing steps, sharpening, and noise reduction.

Chapter 3, “Mending and Blending,” is all about repair work. While Photoshop can do a lot more than touching up photos, it is best known for its retouching work. In this chapter the authors share their favorite retouching techniques. Some of these require a certain amount of skill and can be quite involved. First you start out with general retouching, fashion and beauty retouching, retouching portraits, and working with Vanishing Point techniques.

Chapter 4, “Masking and Composting,” examine how to combine images to solve tricky problems. While Photoshop has evolved over the years to provide a useful set of tools to help you create convincing blends of composite images, you still need to get the photography correct. In this chapter you will learn what it takes to become a master retoucher. Techniques include compositing, snapshot painting, combining images and working with layer styles.

Chapter 5, “Cooking with Photoshop,” will show you some of the techniques that can take your Photoshop skills to the next level by pushing the boundaries. While you will still need to plan your shots, the main focus is to make Photoshop your digital darkroom. You will work with Photomerge, filter effects, digital darkroom effects, and image boarder effects.

Chapter 6, “Photoshop Output,” is important when your target goal is not just the screen. This chapter provides tips and advice on inkjet and CMYK printer output since the final print is what matters most. Much of the real meat of printing is contained in the main book of this series, but this chapter provides additional suggestions for working with printers. Here you will learn how inkjet printers work, how to build a custom printer profile, how to profile for press output, and how to prepare screenshots for publication.

Chapter 7, “Minding your own Business,” gives suggestions for using Photoshop within the realm of your business. For a business to survive there must be profit. Even if you feel that you are more of an artist, to survive, you must make money. In this chapter you will look at adding value to your images, how to archive your images, and even how to make money with Photoshop.

The combination of Adobe Photoshop CS4 For Photographers and Adobe Photoshop CS4 For Photographers – The Ultimate Workshop make for a perfect combination. With one book you get the technical and the other you get the practical.

The quality of the book and the images contained within are superb. The authors have an extensive range of knowledge and provide not only an educational look into workflow, but an inspirational one as well. Keep in mind that many of the techniques used here are aimed more at professional photographer who wants to become better at what they do. But that should not intimidate the aspiring hobbyist who also wants to become better. If you want to become better at your photographic workflow then I highly recommend this book.

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About T. Michael Testi

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