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How to Learn - Photoshop Books

Discussion in 'Darkroom Tutorials' started by PapaBob, Feb 27, 2005.

  1. PapaBob

    PapaBob ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    Thanks again to Dee for creating this subforum.

    Image manipulation software, whether an entry level program like Photoshop Elements or Adobe’s professional version, Photoshop CS, has a learning curve that can look mighty steep to a beginner. Trying to fumble around with trial and error and help menus is not the way to learn this stuff, and I speak from personal experience. One solution is to find a beginning course to take. In my community you can find these through good camera shops, adult education programs of local high schools, and local university courses. If classroom instruction is too inconvenient or time consuming, then the only effective way to learn is to make the time to work though a good instruction book.

    The purpose of this thread is to hear your recommendations regarding books you have had actual experience with and which helped you learn. Perhaps we can save some of our members the trial and error.

    I have determined that there are three basic types of Photoshop book. The first is a reference book which describes the program functions and how to use them, but does not get into much detail as to when to use the functions or how to combine multiple functions to achieve a particular result. In this category, I bought “Photoshop for Windows and Macintosh” authored by Elaine Weinmann and Peter Lourekas. My copy was for PS7 and has a 2003 copyright. In spite of the title, I think this book is a great reference but not suitable for beginning instruction. I frequently use it as a reference, especially when the help menus leave me short.

    The second type of book is beginning or beginner to intermediate instruction. This genre is distinguished by a series of “how to do it” chapters oriented toward specific results and will have a disk containing “play along” images. Someone with no or marginal Photoshop skills will be able to figure it out with a little effort. My absolute all time favorite falls into this tranche and is “Photoshop CS Studio Techniques” by Ben Willmore. Most of what I know about this program I owe to Ben. The book looks a little daunting at first at 19 chapters and 700 pages. It is worth it. This is not a one night romp. I kept the book by my computer and tried to work an hour or two on free evenings over a 2 mo period. If you enjoy playing with what you created with the camera, it is well worth the effort.

    OK, you don’t want to put in that much energy. I am currently working with a relative using the Photoshop Elements - Classroom in a Book” which is Adobes official training workbook. Clearly, a Type 2 book complete with lessons and play along images on disk. I am wondering if anyone knows a better training book for PSE. There is also a “Classroom in a Book” for PSCS which I do not own. If you do, share your experience.

    The Type 3 book is one I would describe as being intermediate to advanced instruction. It could be a series of projects pulling multiple techniques together such as Barry Haynes and Wendy Crumpler in “Photoshop CS Artistry”. I owned an earlier edition of this book and felt it was over my head. After reviewing Ben’s book I went back to Artistry and, oh wow, there is some really great stuff in here. Not beginner stuff though.

    Another Type 3 book is Jack Davis and Ben Wilmore “How to Wow - Photoshop for Photography”. I like its short concise chapters, and presets and actions to play with. IMO a must have for an experienced Photoshopper. I don’t think I would have gotten the same results if I tried this book without a skill set pretty much established. I have taken a class from Jack Davis who is a phenomenal instructor.

    So what helped you?

    PS If you use software other than PSE or PS, feel free to post in this thread.
  2. Charlie99

    Charlie99 Contributor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Silicon Valley, CA / New Bedford, MA / Kihei, Maui
    Scott Kelby'sPhotoshop Elements Book for Digital Photographers is what turned on the light for me. The same book, with minor variations to take into account the program differences, is available for PSE2, PSE3, PS CS, etc.

    It falls squarely into your 2nd category in that it has step by step explanations of how to do specific tasks such as portrait touchup of wrinkles and blemishes, sharpening photos, dodging and burning methods, and even "digital liposuction". His humorous writing style (think Dave Barry Jr.) livens up what otherwise would be a rather dry topic.

    His clear explanations taught me how to do the specific tasks, but more importantly, they taught me how to use the various tools. For example, I had read the descriptions about layers, but didn't really see how to use them. OTOH, walking through a couple procedures where layers were essential stripped away the mystery.

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