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Book Review: The Photoshop Channels Book by Scott Kelby

The Photoshop Channels Book is not a new release. Cory Barker’s training video, Adobe Photoshop CS3: Channels, made a couple of references to it, and I thought that now may be a good time to revisit this book.

This book was published early in 2006, but, by nature, is not a book that will go out of date anytime soon. Since it focuses on a standard feature of Photoshop, it is also something that does not change with every version. It is an important feature within Photoshop that it deserves its own book. Since this is not about a specific version of Photoshop, these techniques should work on any recent and probably any future version of Photoshop as well as on any platform that it runs on.

Chapter 1, “Channel Basics,” begins at the beginning with the basics of what channels are and how there are three of them. You will see how to separate the channels and then you will create your first channel. At the end of the chapter is a set of channel short cuts as well as some questions and answers. This Q&A appears at the end of each chapter.

Chapter 2, “Using Masking Channel,” will explain to you what a mask is; the ability to protect a part of your image and how it can be used in conjunction with your channels create Channel Masks. You will combine Channel Masks, work with hard to mask images, use Quick Masks, and learn about soft edges. You will even learn how to get the same type of blending with Channels that you get with Layers.

Chapter 3, “Layer Masks and Adjustments,” will explore Layer Mask essentials and how you can use them to make non-destructive editing changes to your images. You will also composite images, use Adjustment Layer Masks, and learn how to use Spot-Color Channels.

Chapter 4, “From Color to Black & White,” examines how to get the best Black and White images from your color images by using Channels. One method is the Lab Lightness method; this where you convert your image to Lab color-space to remove the noise and then revert it back again. You will also work with the Calculations and Channel mixer methods.

Chapter 5, “Channels and Better Color,” will show you how to add detail to your portraits and create vibrant color by using the Lab color-space once again. You will Blend Channels to combine two images with different exposures to get one great image. You will learn to tone down highlights and fix red-eye as well.

Chapter 6, “Sharpening with Channels,” is used to avoid noise and this can be done by using several different channel techniques. One is to apply sharpening, another is to use two-pass Lab sharpening and another is Alpha Channel Edge Mask. You can also reduce channel noise by reducing the blue channel.

Chapter 7, “Channels and Web Optimization,” shows how Weighted Optimization uses an Alpha Channel to get the smallest file size. You can also use an Alpha Channel to make sure that the most important colors in an image remain.

Chapter 8, “Special Effects Using Channels,” will explain how you can use Channels to add additional effects such as beams of light, an infrared affect, mapping one image to another and the use of Texture Channels to create lighting effects.

I think that The Photoshop Channels Book is one of those few books that is a classic book and a classic “must have.” It is really geared for the user who has a level of comfort with Photoshop and now wants to go in deep on a specific subject such as Channels. Written by Scott Kelby, the Editor and Publisher of Photoshop User Magazine, it contains his well known humor “Channeled” throughout the book.

Since Photoshop is so complex, there are certain topics that sometimes put fear in to users and so they never explore the concepts any more than they need to. Channels is one. Put that fear to rest. With The Photoshop Channels Book, your imaging will never look the same.

About T. Michael Testi

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

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