Authors: Ellen Anon and Josh Anon

Publisher: Sybex

Review by Conrad J. Obregon

10 years ago, Photoshop (PS) software included a booklet of almost 200 pages. Even so, getting comfortable with PS meant that one still had to read two or three books about the software. Over 10 years the software has increased in complexity and the tools available. Today the newest version of the software includes no instruction book, although there is on-line help that can be called up to learn the details of using a particular tool or panel if one understands what it can do. A new user still requires supplementary assistance, although today that includes on-line instruction and live classes as well as books.

Photoshop CS5 for Nature Photographers: A Workshop in a Book aims at introducing nature photographers to the buttons and sliders in the CS5 version of PS that are necessary and useful for processing their images. The book introduces the reader to Bridge and Adobe Camera Raw (ACR), which are two components of PS and then goes on to processing images in the main PS software. This includes adjustments to tonality and color, targeting adjustments to specific areas of the image, and a few of the special effects available in PS that will help the nature photographer. There is also a chapter on printing and creating facilities for handling repetitive tasks. The workshop portion of the book consists of images that may be downloaded from the web, usually the ones used in the authors’ examples, that one may modify as instructed in the preceding section.

Most of the instruction is a simple explanation of the procedures for using a tool but that is just fine for a beginner. What is not included are tutorials that take a single image and follow it step by step through application of several PS tools. Nor is there much explanation of exactly how an individual should apply which tools to create a better image (although occasionally this kind of instruction appears, and many readers will be able to infer from reading when a tool is called for.) Thankfully, the book does not detail those features of PS which are appealing to graphic designers but not photographers.

Given the improvements in usefulness of ACR Raw for global adjustments over the years (and in Lightroom, which uses the same engine in its develop module with a slightly easier-to-use interface), I was surprised that more emphasis wasn’t placed on the use of ACR. Again the similarity of some of the main PS tools may mitigate this treatment. More striking was the treatment given to some other features, like printing, where no mention is made of the method for downloading profiles from paper manufacturers, or saving images for transmission over the web as, say, e-mail attachments.

Experienced users will also be disappointed that there is no section that deals with just the new features of PS CS5, especially since the publisher’s parent company has apparently not elected to provide an “Up to Speed” book, detailing the new functions, as it has in the past.

Still for the nature photographer new to PS, this book will serve as an excellent introduction. Readers should be aware, however, that this is just the beginning of their Photoshop learning experience.

This post sponsored by the Digital SLR Store