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Book Review: The Adobe Photoshop CS3 Book For Digital Photographers by Scott Kelby

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As I have said before, when you get beyond the second edition of a book, there is a reason and it usually centers on the quality of the information presented. The Adobe Photoshop CS3 Book is no exception. This is the fourth edition of a book that has helped keep Scott Kelby the number one best-selling author of all computer and technology books. No, I didn't say Photoshop books, nor did I say digital imaging books — I said computer and technology; that means all categories.

Being a member of NAPP, I have known of Scott Kelby for years and am familiar with his teaching style and the entertaining way he presents information. If you are not familiar with NAPP, please read my review on Photoshop User magazine to gain more insight on what NAPP is all about and why you might want to join.

The Adobe Photoshop CS3 Book breaks out into 13 chapters but before you get to chapter one you must first pass through the "An Unexpected Q & A Session." As he did in his book The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Book, the Kelby wit is performing to get you to read an introduction to the book once again. Here he explains what the book is and how you should read it, kind like if Abbott and Costello wrote the intro!

Chapter 1, "London Bridge" shows the basics of the new Adobe Bridge 2. Here, the author shows how, after a photo shoot, you can get your images into Bridge, generate a contact sheet, view, organize, move or delete photos. You can add metadata, rename, rotate and sort your files. Chapter 2, "The Bridge" introduces you to more advanced techniques such as creating full-screen slideshows, searching for files via keywords, using stacks, and how to view and edit your metadata. You will also learn how to create metadata templates as well as how to strip the metadata from your photos. You will also learn how to use two monitors to enhance your work style.

Chapter 3, "Raw Deal" explains the changes with regard to the new Camera Raw changes in Photoshop CS3. Now you can not only process Raw files, but JPEGs and TIFFs as well. You will also work with the essential adjustments such as white balance and exposure and with the Clarity Slider, a new tool to Camera Raw that enhances the midtone contrasts to give your image more punch. Chapter 4, "Resized" focuses on getting your sizes right for your photos. Getting your photos to an appropriate size for the use that is required is more than just lopping off some from here or there, it is about what to leave in and what to take out. You will learn the rule of thirds, about custom sizes for photographers and making posters that remain sharp. You will also learn about making your images smaller.

Chapter 5, "Fit to Print" is a step-by-step guide to color management. You will begin by configuring your camera to match Photoshop's color space. Then you will configure Photoshop for Adobe RGB (1998). You will finish up with calibrating your monitor and your printer. Chapter 6, "Local Color" works with you to get the color right in your photos. This is done by using a couple of techniques to change how the Eyedropper tool measures color and also to get a neutral grey background behind your photos. Simple, but important, methods that dramatically impact your photos and take you to the next level as a photographer. The author also explains Drag-And-Drop Instant Color Correction, studio portrait correction, adjusting RGB Flesh Tones as well as a trick to make your grey skies blue again.

Chapter 7, "Black and White World" will show you how to create stunning Black and White images from your color photos. Here you will work with the Lightness Channel Method as well as CS3's new Black and White Converter. The author also lets you in on a little method that he learned while he was working on another technique. It is a quick and easy way to create high-contrast B&W images. You will also learn about doing B&W in Camera Raw. Chapter 8, "99 Problems" will work with you on diagnosing and fixing common digital image problems. These include fixing color in indoor shots, what to do when your subject is in the shadows, dealing with over- or under-exposed photos, dodging and burning, red-eye, reflections on glasses, as well as fixing spots and sensor dust on one or many photos at a time.

Chapter 9 "Faces" is all about retouching portraits. Pretty much anytime you are creating a portrait, you are not trying to recreate every blemish, pimple and mole that the person has. What you are trying to do is to capture the essence of who the person is. While that pimple may exist, it doesn't mean that it has always or will always exist. So what you are trying to accomplish is to maintain the skin's appearance and not make any retouching look obvious. Some of the things you will learn include how to reduce a double chin, remove dark circles under the eyes, reduce wrinkles, add highlights, enhance lips, brighten eyes, and whiten teeth.

Chapter 10, "Special Delivery" will explore special effects for photographers. Some of the effects include Quadtoning, the process of using four different grays and/or brown tones to add depth to a Black and White photo, taming light to get it to fall where you want it to, and punching up drab colors. You will also work with portrait effects such as High-Contrast, creating fake Duotones, creating collages, infrared, drawing the viewer's eye with color and creating panoramas. You will also learn about "Scott's Three-Step Portrait Finishing Techinque."

Chapter 11, "Look Sharp" gives you techniques for sharpening your photos. No, this won't make a blurry picture clear; rather it adjusts for areas within a photo that need more definition and crispness. You will use manual techniques as well as the Smart Sharpen filter. You will even learn how to make photos look sharper than they really are. Chapter 12, "Best in Show" will explore methods for you to show your work. You will add copyright info, watermarks, and signatures. You will create an online photo gallery and learn how to email photos, create a fine art poster layout, and create a simple three-photo balanced layout. Finally, chapter 13 "Working for a Livin'" is a mini-chapter that the author explains his work flow by taking an image from import to done in 23 easy steps.

In my opinion, The Adobe Photoshop CS3 Book is one of those books that contains so much information that it really is a must have. If you are a beginner to Photoshop, you will have everything you need to create better photos. You will be able to learn things in a step-by-step approach that will fine tune your learning. If you are experienced, The Adobe Photoshop CS3 Book will fill in many of the holes that you may have because of the depth and breath of Photoshop itself.

Now Scott Kelby admits that not everyone appreciates his humor; in fact he anticipates the emails that continue to tell him to stop. I guess I understand it, because I have the same kind of humor (and people around me tell me to stop; it doesn't work here either.) So my advice is to get over it, there is too much information here to let slip by just because you can't take his humor.

One other note, if you find yourself entertained by Scott Kelby, you can keep up with him and all things Photoshop on his blog Photoshop Insider. Also a must read!

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About T. Michael Testi

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