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How to Wow - Photoshop for Photography

How to Wow Photoshop for Photography

by Jack Davis & Ben Willmore
Publisher: Peachpit Press
Retail Price: $39.99
ISBN: 0321357507
Pages: 288

This How to Wow book is true to its title. Not only does it subscribe to its authors' work-flow mantra of "Quality, Flexibility, and Speed," but the book's physical appearance qualifies as a "Wow factor" all on its "The medium is the message" (Marshall McLuhan 1964) is a phrase that might capture the essence of this book. A gorgeously printed, 269-page, generously illustrated publication, How to Wow stands apart from scores of other Photoshop tutorial books by providing clear and concise training covering all conceivable topics.

Over the years, Photoshop Wow! books by Jack Davis have evolved a layout that can be described as interactive print. This user-friendly style is utilized in How to Wow. Photographic icons on a table of contents or chapter heading page visually summarize the articles of that section to the point that the reader can visually scan them to quickly understand what each article contains. If the layout were a webpage, you would want to instinctively start clicking icons.

Although the layout appears non-linear, leaping around out of sequence from one article to another is discouraged by the authors, at least in the beginning phases. They want the reader to master the core techniques before drooling over the showstopper effects of later chapters, and they plead with the reader to start at the beginning and work through the first two chapters before diving into "the fun stuff." I would agree that mastering Workflow Foundations (Chapter 1), and Processing & Presenting (Chapter 2), give the reader a core skill set necessary for venturing into the sophisticated routines and special effects that follow.

The core information includes digital camera optimal exposures and workflows along with those pesky Photoshop monsters - color management, embedded profiles, camera raw, presets, layer styles, and actions. Step-by-step fully illustrated instructions concisely lead the reader through these and the later topics of portrait retouching, color correction, artistic effects, collages, and solutions to just about any situation encountered by a pro photographer or perfectionist hobbyist.

And then there is the included CD. Project files on the CD include all the photos used as examples in the book for emulation of processes. In addition, there are 250 presets you can download into your Photoshop palettes of Actions, Brush Tools, and Seamless Patterns to save time and elevate your level of sophisticated visual competence.

Jack Davis and Ben Willmore are heavy hitters in the world of Photoshop. Independently, their books, seminars, and articles have gained them the reputations of gurus of digital imagery techniques. Put them together and the "Wow" aura of Davis combined with the "Photoshop for Photographers" focus of Willmore make this collaboration quite awesome.

You really have to pick up the book and flip through the pages to see how easy and understandable the visual teaching makes it to master techniques that you may now think of as too complicated or time-consuming.

Sure, this book and accompanying CD may be over the heads of those who are perfectly happy with the scope of programs such as Photoshop Elements or even with the new Adjust features of iPhoto5. But to a Photoshop user, this book is definitely worth every minute it takes to expand your horizons with its recipes for delicious imagery.

Book review by NCMUG member John Hershey