Friday, August 24, 2012

REVIEW: The Adobe Photoshop CS6 Book for Digital Photographers

The Adobe Photoshop CS6 Book for Digital Photographers is an update of a classic book that every Photoshop owner should have near their desk.  If you already own The Adobe Photoshop CS5 Book for Digital Photographers, then you’ll find that this book is very similar with some nice new updates to keep your skills relevant to current trends. The biggest obvious difference is that Chapter 6 (Jonas Sees in Color – Color Correction Secrets) gets dropped and replaced with the new Chapter 12 – Videodrome chapter which is a must read if you are wanting to learn what Photoshop CS6 can do with video.

Chapter by Chapter Walkthrough

Because I’ve reviewed preview editions of this book, 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. Each version of this book drops a little of the old and picks up the new, but each one is strong enough to stand on its own – if you own the version of Photoshop that the book was written for.

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 was the miniature version of Bridge built in to a panel directly into CS5. 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 CS4 edition, so it’s worth a read if  you’re coming from CS4 or skipped this chapter in the last book. There’s some very cool stuff you can do with Mini Bridge so check it out.

Chapter 2 WWF Raw – The Essentials of Camera Raw

This is an improvement over Chapter 3 of the CS4 edition where now more practical tips are added, but near identical to the CS5 edition. It’s worth a read if you aren’t using Lightroom or are new to Adobe Camera Raw (ACR). If you read the

Chapter 3 Raw Justice – Camera Raw – Beyond the Basics

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.

If you read the previous version of this book then it’ll feel like déjà vu all over again, but there’s a a few hidden gems scattered throughout. The one I think many will appreciate is the “Getting the Old CS5-Style Fill Slider Back” (which also applies to Lightroom). I hated Adobe for getting rid of this one, so if you haven’t figured out what to do to get it back then you’ll love this!

Chapter 4 Attitude Adjustment – Camera Raw’s Adjustment Tools

This was a good chapter in the last book and it’s actually improved quite a bit here. The last main three sections on selective white balance; reducing noise just in shadows; and getting more out of adjustment brush effects are “doh, why didn’t I think of that” tips that beginner to intermediate users will love. 

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

If you read the last book then skip to the next chapter, but if you haven’t then this is pure gold – especially for new and frustrated users. You might actually stop saving cropping for Lightroom and do it directly in Photoshop after reading this!

Chapter 6 – 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 identical to the previous book because not much has changed in Photoshop. It’s an easy skip for repeat readers or those who have accepted the reality that the Nik Software suite is simply a must own collection for anyone serious about photo editing.

Chapter 7 – We are HDR – Creating HDR Images

CS6 has come a long way with HDR over the past few versions. However the only reason you use Photoshop for this is because you are pinching pennies. Proper HDR is best done in HDR Efex Pro 2, or Photomatix. In this article I compare different HDR products including CS6 so you can see which HDR solution is right for you.

If you decide to get Photomatix then Trey Ratcliff's Photography, HDR and Post-Processing Course is a must own in my book.

Chapter 8 – Little Problems – Fixing Common Problems

I loved this chapter before and it keeps improving. CS6 has some awesome stuff like content aware scale and move added, so everyone should read this chapter. Scott added several new sections over the last edition for things like dealing with backlit subjects and creative content-aware related sections. He nixed the fixing dark eye sockets section (which can be solved easily using Viveza), but left in goodness from the previous edition like selecting hair & compositing. This is a must read chapter!

If you like this chapter then you’ll love Photoshop Compositing Secrets, so I highly recommend you pick that book up when you are done reading this one.

Chapter 9 – Side Effects – Special Effects for Photographers

This is a major update to catch up with current trends, so if you are a previous edition owner and are wondering if there’s much that is new – this is where you’ll find a good chunk of it! Personally I try to re-read every chapter of this book each time a new edition comes out 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! This edition includes cool new things like the Instagram look, tilt-shift effect (using the new blur gallery), lighting effects, liquify tricks, and so much more. Don’t skip this chapter!

Chapter 10 – 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. Personally I find Sharpener Pro easier, but CS6 can create results that are as good in the right hands. This chapter helps you to get those skills. Previous edition owners can skip this chapter though as nothing has really changed.

Chapter 11 – Fine Print – Step-by-Step Printing and Color Management

This a good super high-level summary of what I cover in more depth in my Printing 101 eBook. This chapter gives you a taste of what you are jumping into if you decide to do your own printing, before you’ve told yourself – yes, I’m going to do this! My book is for those who are definitely getting ready to get into printing, or who already have but are frustrated with mediocre results.

This chapter is a carryover from the previous edition with only one minor section about contact sheets added.

Chapter 12 – Videodrome – Editing DSLR Video in Photoshop

I despise doing video because it’s so time consuming and I’m just not really ready to learn new software. I want to take my Photoshop knowledge and be able to apply it to my video, but that hasn’t been possible – until now. Scott mirrors my thoughts exactly and does what we all want – he just shows us how to make use of Photoshop’s video features right away using what we already know. This subject is big enough for a whole book (hint, hint, Scott!), but until we get that this is the primer that I think most readers will appreciate.

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

If there is one reason to keep your old versions of this book it’s because Scott always does something new in this section for each book, and personally I like to have the old ones around. This one is useful even if it’s a little more simple than some of the past editions (mainly due to advancements in Photoshop). It’s really geared towards the beginner who is looking for that “ah,ha moment” where they start to tie things together to see how the stuff they’ve learned can be used on their photos.

I still STRONGLY recommend Scott’s 7 Point System book even though it’s written for CS3. If you like this chapter then you’ve gotta get the 7 Point System – that book changed my life!


Anytime I know I’m going to be on a long flight I like to take the books from this series and re-read them because I always pick up great new things each time. 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)
Recommendation: Must Own for those who don’t have previous editions and worth the upgrade for those doing video or who want to pick up modern day skills.

If you are too busy or lazy to read a book like this, then you might consider too. While I prefer to have this as a reference book to quickly to the solution for the problem I’m currently facing, there’s lots of great videos on Kelby Training (discount) that are more in-depth. I also find that Kelby Training keeps me up to date on the latest techniques as they are always adding new videos each week. Some good examples are Photoshop CS6: Brushes and Painting and Photoshop CS6: What’s New?. There’s also tons on Lightroom 4 too!

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