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Book Review: Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2 Book For Digital Photographers by Scott Kelby

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Last August, Adobe released the second incarnation of their photography workflow product Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2 to rave reviews. As is to be expected, new editions of companion Lightroom books are also coming to market to provide educational assistance to learning Lightroom. Scott Kelby's Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2 Book For Digital Photographers, along with being one of the best, is also one of the first out of the chutes.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2, while it certainly addresses the new features of Lightroom 2, also guides you through the existing features that have not changed. This version is 456 pages in length (40 more pages of material) and contains 14 chapters (3 additional chapters)

Chapter 1, "Importing," devotes it's time to showing you how to get your photos into Lightroom. The improvement I see in this chapter is that not only are you shown how to get them in, there is more devotion to figuring out where to store your files, how to set up your folder organization, shooting tethered, as well as discussing topics like the use of the Adobe DNG file format advantage. Chapter 2, "Library," focuses on organizing your photographs. Here the author looks at using Collections, Quick Collections, adding Keywords, working with Metadata, and working with multiple catalogs. This chapter is more focused on the library and some of the content from the previous edition was reorganized and moved to the next chapter.

Chapter 3, "Customizing," looks at how to set up Lightroom 2 to fit your work style. Here you will work with setting up two monitors, adding a logo to your interface, choosing what the Filmstrip will display, and learning to work with panels in a faster and much easier method. Chapter 4, "Editing Essentials," gets into the basics of developing your photos. In this chapter you will see how to set the white balance, add more punch to the color of your images, adjust the tone, hue, and color of your photos, as well learning techniques such as vignetting, getting that gritty look, and using AutoSync to fix a bunch of photos live while editing just one.

Chapter 5, "Local Adjustments," moves beyond basics to editing specific parts of your image. This includes Dodging and Burning, working with the Adjustment Brush, retouching portraits, and learning how to fix skies. Chapter 6, "Problem Photos," will show you how to correct problems after you have taken the image. Here you will work with cropping, reducing noise, removing red-eye, fixing backlight photos, sharpening, and fixing chromatic aberrations.

Chapter 7, "Exporting Images," shows you how to save your images as JPEG's, how to email photos from Lightroom, using the export plug-ins to auto upload to sharing sites like Flicker, and how to export your original RAW photo. Chapter 8, "Jumping to Photoshop," examines how to move between Lightroom and Photoshop. This includes how to get there and back again, how to add Photoshop Automation to your workflow, stitching panoramas by using Photoshop, and working with High Dynamic Range images in Photoshop.

Chapter 9, "Gorgeous B&W," begins by showing how to determine if a photo would look good in Black and White. Then you will see how to do it yourself, how to tweak individual areas, how to add a split tone, and how to create a duo tone image. Chapter 10, "Slideshow," begins with a basic slide show and quickly moves to customizing your show, adding music, picking preferences, and finally how to email the show.

Chapter 11, "Print," examines how to properly setup the print, and then moves onto adding text to your print layouts. You then see how to print multiple images on one page, how to setup your final print and management settings, and how to add borders to your photos. Chapter 12, "Web," starts off with a simple online photo gallery and then from there customizes the gallery layout by working with the layout colors, working with templates, and then shows how to put your gallery on the web.

Chapter 13, "Portrait Workflow," is the first of the workflow chapters that will give you a sense of how you should work with Lightroom from a professional standpoint. This is a step-by-step on-location shoot process that will give you a feel of how someone would use Lightroom in real life. Chapter 14, "Travel Workflow," is a different type of workflow because unlike the portrait shoot, this is geared more for those who shoot for themselves and either uses the images for family and friends, or to sell to, say, a magazine or stock agency, not to a specific client. It would work as well for those who sell fine art photos.

There is also a virtual 15th chapter that is available online from a secret location that you must own the book to gain access to. It is a video workflow that will take you step-by-step through a wedding shoot. It is unique in that you will see how Scott Kelby uses Lightroom real time and it really makes for fascinating viewing.

So what do I think Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2? Let me preface it by saying that I loved the first version, but I think that this version is much better. Why? Two reasons that I can pinpoint directly.

First, in the 17 months since the first book was released, the author has been training Lightroom and putting on workshops. I believe that he has learned not only how better to work with Lightroom, but how better to answer the kind of questions that his workshop participants have with regard to the use of Lightroom. Second, which may also come indirectly from the first, is that while much of the content is reused from the first book, the layout is much more concise and has a much more logical order, and therefore easier to understand.

Certainly if you do not have the first version then you should by all means get Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2, but what about if you have the first version? I think that depends on your situation and your finances. If you have the first version and have been using Lightroom for the last year or so, you can probably figure out much of the new version, but so much has changed in Lightroom since version 1.0 on which the prior version was based, I would seriously recommend upgrading to Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2 Book For Digital Photographers as you might just learn a few new tricks. I very highly recommend this book.

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About T. Michael Testi

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