Thursday, November 25, 2010

REVIEW: The Adobe Photoshop CS5 Book for Digital Photographers

The Adobe Photoshop CS5 Book for Digital Photographers is one of those books that every photographer who owns Photoshop should have sitting next to their desk. I have reviewed the previous versions here:

and both were on my “What Photoshop Books Should I Read?” list since the day they came out. If you don’t have Adobe Photoshop CS5 yet, then its predecessors are still highly recommended for their respective versions. However, Scott Kelby does a great job of updating these books for all the cool new features of CS5 so it’s worthwhile to upgrade this book when you upgrade your software.

Chapter by Chapter Walkthrough

Because I’ve reviewed this book twice before, this time I’m catering my walkthrough a bit to those who have read the previous version. If you haven’t, don’t worry, you can still get an idea of what’s included but you might find it handy to read one of the previous edition reviews if you are feeling like you are missing something. Here’s my thoughts on the chapters in this edition:

Chapter 1 Mini Series – Using Photoshop CS5’s Mini Bridge

One of the cool new features of CS5 is a miniature version of Bridge built in to a panel directly into CS5, so this chapter covers a lot of things you never would have guessed it would do. It replaces the “London Bridge – Bridge Essentials” content from the previous version, so it’s worth a read even for those who have previous editions of this book. There’s some very cool stuff in there tool

Chapter 2 WWF Raw – The Essentials of Camera Raw

This is an improvement over Chapter 3 of the previous edition where now more practical tips are added. It’s worth a read if you aren’t using Lightroom or are new to Adobe Camera Raw (ACR).

Chapter 3 Raw Justice – Camera Raw – Beyond the Basics

This is very much like Chapter 4 of the previous book, but that was as great chapter before and still is now. I highly recommend this chapter, especially if you haven’t read the 7 Point System. There’s lots of practical tips here that every photographer should know and it starts to show why you should care about Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) even if you own Lightroom.

Chapter 4 Attitude Adjustment – Camera Raw’s Adjustment Tools

Camera Raw has improved quite a bit over the previous version and so has this chapter (which was Chapter 5 in the last book). Less useful if you use Lightroom, but still worth knowing for cases where you are using Smart Objects in Photoshop to do double processing (ala 7- Point System).

Chapter 5 – Scream of the Crop – How to Resize and Crop Photos

This is an improvement over Chapter 6 in the last edition and has stuff that when I read it in the last edition it became a part of my current workflow. Even if you had the last book, read this chapter again as it is loaded with little nuggets of goodness and things you either never discovered or probably have forgotten (but wished you hadn’t).

Chapter 6 – Jonas Sees in Color – Color Correction Secrets

There’s very little new here over Chapter 7 in the last book, but still lots of good stuff. If you are a newbie to this series then read every page carefully, but if you’ve read prior editions and know this stuff then just skim it and check out the Killer Tips section.

Chapter 7 – Black & White – How to Create Stunning B&W Images

For me Silver Efex Pro is the only way to create Black & White now, but if you are pinching pennies and need to do it the old fashion way then there’s much goodness here. It feels the same as Chapter 8 in the previous book so it’s an easy skip for repeat readers or those who have gotten with the program and picked up the Nik Software suite.

Chapter 8 – We are HDR – Creating HDR Images

CS5 has come a long way with HDR and this chapter is a big improvement over Chapter 9 in the last book to create something that is much more exciting (some of which can be applied to non-HDR images too). However, I still recommend people get Photomatix and HDR Workshop DVD by Trey Ratcliff of

Chapter 9 – Little Problems – Fixing Common Problems

I loved this chapter before but it is much improved in this version. CS5 has some awesome stuff added, so everyone should read this chapter. Scott added some really good stuff here over the last edition for things like fixing dark eye sockets (which I have, so I loved this) and how to deal with things like selecting hair which make it a must read chapter!

Chapter 10 – Side Effects – Special Effects for Photographers

Not much different than chapter 11 in the last book, but still some good stuff – especially for those who are new to the book. Personally I re-read every chapter of these (even if I wasn’t doing a blog review) because I find that there’s too much for me to absorb through just one pass through the book. I rarely find time to read it twice before a new edition comes out, so I add a few items to my toolbox each time I read one of these killer books by Scott Kelby! Some of my favorites here are the LAB color trick (which I use 99% of the time on my photos) and the new Panoramas Made Crazy Easy section.

Chapter 11 – Sharpen Your Teeth – Sharpening Techniques

Just when you think that you can’t beat this old dead horse much more, Scott goes and adds some new stuff that makes you glad you read the chapter. Sharpening is a critical part of photography these days, so I recommend you read this chapter if you aren’t going to do like me and buy Sharpener Pro (which is my only sharpening solution now).

Chapter 12 – Fine Print – Step-by-Step Printing and Color Management

After doing my printing series I realize that chapter 13 in the previous edition was pretty inadequate, so it’s nice to see Scott put more substance into this chapter. Whole books are written on the subject and I’m doing quite a bit in my printing series to help with this complex subject, but this is a good high-level summary.

Chapter 13 – Workflow – [Scott Kelby’s]  Step-by-Step Workflow

New & improved version from the previous edition so it’s a must read as Scott is “Mr. Photoshop”, so you’ll pick up some good nuggets here watching him transform a drab downtown image into something you’d actually show your friends. Of course I’d prefer another one of his classic women walkthroughs like he did in the last edition, but hey I just find that more relevant to my work (and heckuva lot more fun).


While it’s more of a recipe book that you'll use as a reference, I find myself using this book at least once a month for some tricky challenge I face. I love it and can’t live without it!

Skill Level: ALL - Beginner to Advanced

Excellent (worth every penny)

Highly Recommended
, but if you can't afford this and Scott Kelby's 7 Point System for Photoshop CS3 then I'd say your best best for learning is to go for 7 Point System. Even if you are a very advanced Photoshop user, you'll probably find some good nuggets in this book that make it worthwhile to own, but as a beginner you’ll constantly refer to it when you face challenging problems with your photos. I love this book and wouldn’t live without it.


I was given a copy of this book for the review, but I’ve purchased previous versions and would purchase this one had they not sent it to me. I may get a commission if you purchase this book from Amazon using the links provided and would very much appreciate if you did.

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