As we approach the end of 2007 we wanted to ask some of the leading figures in the Photoshop community which books they had found most inspiring and in the case of authors, which books they had written were they most proud of. We got some interesting and quite varied responses. So if you are still stuck for ideas about what to get a Photoshop geek for Christmas, here are some reading tips from the experts.
To keep this article seasonal we didn’t want it to be entirely about Photoshop and digital imaging. We did also ask people to nominate a book for recreational reading. After all, the holiday season is a time for relaxing and leaving work to one side! To help you find out more about the books recommended here we have created links to Amazon.com for all the books featured here.
I wrote Photoshop CS3: Up to Speed because it was the book that I personally would look for when a new version of Photoshop is released. As a seasoned Photoshop user, when a new version is released, all I really need to know about is the new stuff and that’s all that the Up to Speed book covers. I wish I could find similar titles for all the other programs I use (like Mac OSX Leopard for instance). I don’t have the patience to search through hundreds upon hundreds of pages to find the new stuff in a bible-sized book or deal with the limited coverage in the more cookbook style books, so I decided to write the book that I thought was missing from the shelf. This short, low priced guide is the fastest way to get “up to speed” when a new version is released.
I enjoy writing the book because if forces me to search through every nook and cranny in Photoshop and discover all the small changes that I would have never noticed if I was working on a book that covered both the old and new features. It also gets me to explore features in much more depth than I have in the past.
Readers seem to love the book and the only complaints I’ve heard relate to the binding on the first printing. Peachpit Press (my publisher) really screwed up on the first batch and they were falling apart in readers hands. Peachpit will replace any of the early copies that fell apart.
I started the book with Photoshop CS2 because that was simply the time when I realized the need for such a book. I wish I would have thought of it much earlier.
I don’t think I’ve made it through any other Photoshop books this year, but here is a recommendation for a non-Photoshop book: The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss. This is the best book I’ve read in about a decade and has been a deep influence in how I’ve changed the structure of my life over the last year or so.
I read quite a bit online, but I don’t read too many printed books—at least not cover to cover. So, I’d suggest the following based on what I’ve nibbled this year:
Ant Farm: And Other Desperate Situations, by Simon Rich
Bite-sized chunks of mordant hilarity, which of course makes it right up my alley. The book is so slight that you can almost read it all while waiting in line to buy it.
I Am America (And So Can You!), by Stephen Colbert
Nobody else makes being asinine so funny. Colbert manages to poke fun without being shrill, and without condescending.
Music for Chameleons, by Truman Capote
I don’t know Capote very well & thus can’t compare the short stories in this collection to his other work, but I found them consistently engrossing.
My American Century, by Studs Terkel
Terkel brings to life the voices of Americans from every walk of life in the last hundred years, putting real texture on the bones of historical events. The narratives (such as they are) can get a little haphazard and pedantic from time to time, but I welcome the insights into so many real lives.
I have not read as many books as I should. But one book I can highly recommend and quite new to the market is The HDRI Handbook: High Dynamic Range Imaging for Photographers and CG Artists by Christian Bloch (published by Rockynook). I’ve had a passing interest in HDR but didn’t know much about it. Chapter 1 of the book is worth the price of admission as it’s an excellent primer covering the fundamentals of HDR, image encoding and the somewhat controversial concepts of dynamic range versus bit depth. I didn’t fully grasp the potential of really high-bit (32 bit encoding), and HDR until I read this well written chapter. I was equally naïve about the various file formats that support HDRI until reading chapter 2. The two chapters greatly aid in supporting the rest of the book which covers both best practices for capturing images for HDR and the various software products available for processing bracketed data. The discussion of true HDR camera systems we may see in the future was fascinating! Bloch does an excellent job of using various analogies to clearly explain some rather complex concepts and his style is humorous and never dry. An entire chapter is devoted to the important task of tone mapping. I thought the images provided throughout the book showed great care in this important process of tone mapping; the images don’t have that odd, HDR look I’ve seen in the past. The examples actually make you excited about the prospect of shooting and processing HDR images. One chapter covered HDR and Panoramic photography. I really hated that chapter. I got so excited about the prospect of trying this out I ended up spending $1500 for a new Carbon Fiber tripod and the entire Really Right Stuff Pano head! Seriously, I’m really looking forward to trying some of the techniques illustrated in this book. The HDRI Handbook is quite up to date (it was just released) so it covered the HDR features in Photoshop CS3 as well as a number of Mac and Windows software products that handle HDR processing. Print quality, illustrations all the images is top notch. At 341 pages, there’s no fluff to be found and I think this was a great primer on a subject I only knew about in passing. An added bonus is a CD-Rom containing tutorials files, many used within the book that I could test until I was savvy enough to produce my own images to play with. There’s a lot of demo software as well. The companion website, http://www.hdrlabs.com/news/index.php should give you an idea of what to expect both from this excellent book and from the exiting new field of HDR digital imaging. The web site like the book has a ton of content and is beautifully designed. Highly recommend.
Window Seat: The Art of Digital Photography and Creative Thinking is a complete view of a creative project from the artist’s perspective. I took my own experience of shooting images out of airplane windows to create a unique seminar in three parts: a manifesto of ways to stay creatively alive; a portfolio of stunning photographs, with commentaries describing my experiences and thought process; and a technical appendix that includes the details of the images were shot, manipulated, and prepared for printing.
In the midst of an experience as inorganic as business travel, this collection of photographs came into existence by a completely organic process. They came about not because I first had the idea to do a whole portfolio of photographs shot out of airplane windows. Instead, I was moved to shoot one photograph, and then another, and then 3,000 more over the course of five or six years.
Here are some of the books that Julieanne also recommends from her website:
The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Book – Martin Evening
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Book for Digital Photographers - Scott Kelby
Photoshop Lightroom Adventure - Mikkel Aaland
Adobe Photoshop CS3 for Photographers - Martin Evening
The Adobe Photoshop CS3 Book for Digital Photographers - Scott Kelby
Adobe Photoshop CS3 Studio Techniques - Ben Willmore
Adobe Photoshop CS3 One-on-One - Deke McClelland
Real World Adobe Photoshop CS3 - David Blatner, Conrad Chavez and Bruce Fraser
Photoshop Masking and Compositing - Katrin Eismann
Real World Color Management - Bruce Fraser
Photoshop Studio with Bert Monroy - Bert Monroy
Photoshop Restoration and Retouching, Third Edition – Katrin Eismann
I will also tell you that I just read Crime and Punishment, by Dostoyevsky. I don’t know if people will want to put it on their Christmas list, but here was a quote that I thought was appropriate:
“On the whole, there are extremely few people with new ideas, or who are even the merest bit capable of saying something new – so few that it’s almost strange”.
Without a doubt the two best so far would have to be The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Book by Martin Evening and Real World Camera Raw with Adobe Photoshop CS3 by Jeff Schewe and Bruce Fraser. That said, there is also Martin’s Adobe Photoshop CS3 for Photographers and Andrew Rodney’s Color Management for Photographers. I also really enjoyed reading Eric Meola’s books: Last Places on EarthBorn to Run: The Unseen Photos on Bruce Springsteen. There was also Stephen Wilkes’s Ellis Island: Ghosts of Freedom book. and his book called
And then there was The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. It gave me a very clear, and vivid sense of the life in Afghanistan without feeling like I was being lectured to by a politician. It was sort of a wake up and open your eyes kind of book. I did know what was coming next but still enjoyed the book.
I had an extremely busy start to the year. I was in the midst of finishing off first of all The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Book, which was followed soon after by the publication of Adobe Photoshop CS3 for Photographers. Of the two, I was particularly proud of the Lightroom book since I had spent so much time preparing and revising it over a 15 month period. I was pleased when it was finished, but of course not long after I had to write the Lightroom 1.1 update!
In between working on my books I did find time to read all the way through Peter Krogh’s The DAM book, which proved incredibly useful, offering professional insights into the art of image management. I certainly learned a lot from it and recommend to others as the book on this subject.
I have always been interested in space exploration and NASA photography. One of my favourite photography books is Full Moon by Michael Lightman. So I am hoping Santa will be kind enough to get me Postcards from Mars: The First Photographer on the Red Planet by Jim Bell. If you think email communication is a phenomenon of the late 20th century, well think again. The Victorians had their own Internet, in the form of ‘The Telegraph’. I did first read Tom Standage’s book The Victorian Internet some years ago, but it cropped up in discussion recently and thought it worth highlighting because it is a fascinating book that reveals many interesting parallels with the way we use and regard the Internet today.
For light reading I would recommend Restless by William Boyd as my favorite novel of the year. It is an ideal book to read over the holidays or if you are on a long journey. Set in England in the seventies, it is a story of a young woman who comes to learn the truth about her mother, Sally and her secret wartime identity. I would rate this as one of William Boyd’s best, alongside Stars and Bars, The Blue Afternoon and Armadillo.
I actually have not looked a very many books this year. I’m not exactly sure why this is, but it just happened. My only recommendations would have to be Ben Wilmore’s book called Photoshop CS3 Up-To-Speed. Mikel Aaland’s book on the Iceland Photoshop Lightroom Adventure. Adobe Photoshop CS3 for Photographers, by Martin Evening. Finally, Jeff Schewe’s new book: Real World Camera Raw with Adobe Photoshop CS3.
As a self-taught digital printmaker I am always looking out for new books that explore the subject. I started my company in 1989 – a time when there was no Internet and there were no books on digital anything! I struggled with the new tools and made many mistakes but I eventually learned what I needed to create a successful printmaking studio. I can only imagine the hours I could have saved in the early days if I had had access to in-depth, real-world information on how to scan, process, print, and curate an image! I see many “How To” books but find most of them too general and most often aimed at the neophyte. Although these books serve a purpose for the casual “hobbyist” I tend to seek out books that delve a little deeper into the “business” of printmaking. I have chosen two books that were published in 2007 that fall into this category.
301 Inkjet Tips and Techniques – Andrew Darlow is an encyclopedia of valuable information gleaned not only from his own vast experience but also from many of his friends and fellow digital printmakers. Darlow doles out task specific tips and techniques as he generally covers the creation of a print. He makes you stop and consider your choices and often presents you with possible solutions that you may not have ever considered. This book is best suited for the intermediate to advanced user as much of the information presented may not be meaningful to the uninitiated.
The real value of the information presented in this book is that it is culled from actual users. When a specific substrate or device is discussed it is usually a first person experience. Because of this it more accurately reflects the real concerns and issues of the larger printmaking community not just one individual’s view of the subject. Like any book that covers such a broad subject not all the information is appropriate for every reader. Regardless, I find this to be an invaluable addition to any digital printmakers library. This is time-tested information. It is a resource that I think you’ll find yourself referring to for years to come.
Fine Art Printing for Photographers by Uwe Steinmueller & Juergen Gulbins is a true manual for fine art printmaking. It is aimed at those users who are ready to take their output to the next step. Creating a fine art digital print requires a level of expertise far above that required to create “snapshot” prints on one’s home computer. This book clearly outlines the process and provides invaluable information for the fledgling fine art printmaker. In addition to an overview of different printing technologies, the book covers what I consider to be the most important aspects of fine art digital making: Color Management; Fine Art Digital Workflow; Substrate choices and handling; Specific fine art printers; Printer drivers and RIPs; Print Presentation.
One thing I particularly liked about this book was its length, 226 pages. It’s not the “typical” digital bible that attempts to cover every possibility in 500-600 pages. Fine Art Printing for Photographers is concise and well organized focusing just on the needs of the fine art printer. It provides a solid but flexible foundation that allows it to be customized for the individual needs of the end user. The hidden value in this book is in how it breaks down the steps necessary to improve printmaking skills. It leaves many of the decisions to the individual. It points out in its introduction that experimentation is crucial and is, in most cases, the only way one can truly determine whether or not a particular product or technique is appropriate for one’s unique set of needs. The authors present their approach but never assume that their way is the only way. This book provides an excellent structure for learning how to improve one’s printmaking skills. I highly recommend this book!
Well, I’m very pleased that Real World Camera Raw with Adobe Photoshop CS3 by Bruce Fraser and I is shipping and being well received. But it’s a bittersweet pleasure because I wish Bruce could have seen it. However, I’m very sure that he’s pleased with the results, wherever he’s at. I’m also rather tickled with the cover! It’s my favorite “15 foot mutant penguin” shot. (much better than the unknown soccer shot they were going to use).
As for other books, although not new (it was published last year) I’ve found a new appreciation for Bruce’s Real World Image Sharpening with Adobe Photoshop book. The reason I’ve spent so much time reading it was that earlier this year, I helped fulfill a consulting contract for Bruce working on the sharpening in Camera Raw 4.1 and Lightroom 1.1. Thomas Knoll had wanted to work with Bruce to substantially improve the capture sharpening and while we didn’t get it done for the launch of Lightroom nor Camera Raw 4.0, we did get it done. I must say that my copy of Bruce’s book is well thumbed over and I know for a fact it had a major impact on both Thomas and Mark Hamburg (Lightroom founding engineer) because I saw Mark reading the book while he was coding the sharpening processes. While it’s got Photoshop CS2 in the title, pretty much everything regarding sharpening is the same in Photoshop CS3 with the exception that now, I use Camera Raw 4.3.1 (current) to do all my capture sharpening.
As for other books, well, everybody else has already posted my favs for the Photoshop genre so I’ll add my favorite recreational reading authors. I’m a long time fan of John D. MacDonald, the author of the Travis McGee mysteries. And yes, I re-read them a lot whenever I need my McGee fix. I’m also a fan of Robert B. Parker (primarily the Spenser series). Fortunately, there’s a new one out as of October (so I’m sure to get the hardcover for X-Mas). Anybody who knows me knows that I’m an odd blend of part McGee and part Spencer in my world view.
Real World Camera Raw with Adobe Photoshop CS3 (Real World) by Bruce Fraser and Jeff Schewe
To the point, invaluable information, gets into the essential details and controls every photographer needs to get the most out of ACR.
The HDRI Handbook: High Dynamic Range Imaging for Photographers and CG Artists by Christian Bloch. An excellent book on HDR that has enough technical info for the geek and inspiration for the artist. Excellent illustrations and examples.
Adobe Photoshop CS3: Up to Speed by Ben Willmore. To the point information, excellent overview of all things new in CS3.
Nash Editions: Photography and the Art of Digital Printing by Garrett White. Don’t look for step by steps in this book – look for inspiration and a tremendous overview of excellent art.
Rock and Roll by Lynn Goldsmith. Fantastic photography and insights into the music that shaped a generation…or the generation that shaped the music! Makes a great gift for the secret rocker in your life!
Perception and Imaging, Third Edition: Photography–A Way of Seeing by Richard D. Zakia. Photography is about seeing – not moving sliders around. Dr Z’s book is the book on perception – both visual and psychological.