Authors: Dave Huss and David Plotkin
Publisher: Focal Press
Review by Conrad J. Obregon
I suspect that as the Lightroom image processing software matures, users will be looking for different kinds of information to best use it. As a consequence, a book that may be perfect for new users may be too simple for experienced hands.
Huss and Plotkin provide us with an approach to Lightroom that may appeal to people already familiar with the software. The chapters of the book follow the format of most other authors, working the way through each of Lightroom’s five modules. When discussing the Library function they further divide the tasks into getting photos into Lightroom and organizing the photos, as well as using the quick develop functions. They examine the tools for adjusting photos in the development module, with a separate chapter on using the local adjustment tools introduced in Lightroom 2. They finish up by covering the slideshow, web and print modules.
The book reads something like the printed manuals that used to come with software, although with a more personal touch. (That’s not meant to be a bad thing.) I read the book, reviewing things I knew, but occasionally finding some new tool in Lightroom that I had not previously discovered. The book is not organized into tutorials. Occasionally the authors indicated that a photo could be downloaded so that one could follow along, but I could never figure out how to do this.
Unfortunately, occasionally important information was either not included, scanted or in error. The authors did indicate in their introduction that the book does not cover every possible tool because Lightroom is just too rich. But sometimes they don’t tell us the easiest way to use Lightroom. For example, the authors point out that, when in the print module, one can call up a chart of keyboard shortcuts by pressing the control key (command key on a Mac) and the “/” key. They then suggest that the chart can be made to disappear by clicking on it with the mouse. That’s true, but it can also be made to disappear by pressing the control/command key again, which is a lot easier for someone using the keyboard than moving one’s hand away from the keyboard to the mouse.
If one expects to use the Lightroom tone curve panel effectively, one should know how and when to increase or decrease the size of the tonal ranges by adjusting the split point controls, but the authors merely say that, without even identifying where the split point controls are located.
When it comes to using color labels the authors tell you that there is no number to use to remove a color label from an image. Actually, all you have to do is hit the number of the applied color label a second time.
I realize that these are small knits to pick, but there are many of them throughout the book. Given that the book is written so as to appeal to individuals with a familiarity with Lightroom and that it is more likely to be used as a reference, these shortcomings seem significant. On the other hand, most of the information that is provided is clear enough that the book may be useful to an intermediate user to advance skills and use as a reference.
For a more detailed reference, I would look at Martin Evenings “The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2 Book”. For beginners, nothing beats Scott Kelby’s “The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2 Book for Digital Photographers” and for a book that concentrates a bit more on the artistic possibilities of Lightroom, see “Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2 for Digital Photographers Only” by Rob Sheppard.