EDITOR’S NOTE: We usually run book reviews on Sundays but since our Photofocus Podcast publish date falls on a Sunday this month we’re running the book review on Saturday.

Vision & Voice

Author: David duChemin

Publisher: New Riders (Peachpit)

Review by Conrad J. Obregon

Most of the books about using Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop explain to a greater or lesser degree what the sliders, buttons and menus do to change the look of an image, but most don’t try to tell you how to put together these effects to create an artistic picture. This is David duChemin’s goal in Vision & Voice: Refining Your Vision in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (Voices That Matter).

The book starts out with a few chapters devoted to explaining what the author means by vision and voice. He says that every photograph really contains three images: the one the author had in mind when he took the picture, the one captured by the camera and the one created in post processing. He then goes on to discuss a vision-driven workflow, emphasizing intention, aesthetics, and process. He lays out a few principles next, like making blacks black, utilizing the histogram and even shooting in raw. He then discusses each of the tools in the develop module of Lightroom, but rather then give you a technical explanation, he offers his ideas about how those tools can contribute to the photographer achieving his or her vision. He finishes the book with twenty of his own images (much like Ansel Adams, in Examples: The Making of Forty Photographs) in which he provides step by step descriptions of how he used Lightroom to transform those images into what he envisioned. There are copies of the images on-line that one can download to follow duChemin as he works the digital captures.

If you are one of those photographers who is interested in images that look as much like what was before your lens as possible, this probably isn’t the book for you, although from my point of view, this book is probably just what you need. But if you are interested in creating (dare I say it) art, you must read this book.

As I read this book, I felt like I was watching a high-wire artist. So many authors say they will tell you how to be creative, and then end up explaining exposure and focus, but losing sight of the creativity. I kept waiting for duChemin to fall into the same trap, but he kept his footing all the way. Even when he told you that he had set, say, clarity to +90, I understood the artistic purpose of the move.

If you are familiar with Lightroom, you can just read the author’s description of how he processed each picture. However, even skilled photographers will benefit from following along with the downloaded images.

This book will also prove useful to Photoshop users since the Adobe Camera Raw engine is the same as the Lightroom engine, although the latter has a more intuitive interface.

A great critic, Mark Schorer, spoke of technique as discovery, indicating that it was through the application of technique that the artist revealed his or her vision. David duChemin demonstrates the principle in this book.

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This post sponsored by X-Rite Color and the ColorChecker Passport