Review by Joan O’Brien
Photoshop CS6 and Lightroom 4
Rocky Nook Inc. Distributed by O’Reilly Media
List Price: $44.95
With the advent of the digital camera, we have all become, in our own minds, photo journalists, family archivists, nature and portrait photographers and recorders of history but we have a DAM (digital asset management) problem. Since we have no film and negatives any more, all of our digital images are kept on computers or separate disc drives and, hopefully, backed up on more or in the cloud. Now we spend time looking all over when we try to remember where we put the picture of Uncle Herbert’s 90th birthday, the great Hawaiian sunset, a sister’s new house or the grandchild with cake batter all over as well as editing and enhancing those images.
Stephen Laskevitch’s book Photoshop CS6 and Lightroom 4 can be a big help to devise a plan to organize and edit photos. Photoshop, of course, is Adobe’s gold standard for image editing and Lightroom is its data base program that keeps track of photos. Together they make a powerful pair, along with their cousin Bridge, a photo viewer, there is no end to your photographic capabilities.
On page 2 the author says the book is for those who want to learn the basic tools and image editing steps with the two programs to create professional looking images. A beginner or a professional photographer will be equally at home using the book. He takes a very conversational tone as he provides some good background on basic terms and concepts of photography and then moves on to help configure your system for the programs and then gives a hands-on tour of the programs. Each page of the book has a visible color coded margin tab so you can find relevant information about that program. He gives you his reasons for his suggested plan as well as alternatives here and there that might also work. Then he moves on to workflow steps. He uses Photoshop CS6, the latest version from Adobe but his information is applicable to earlier versions. You don’t have to be an expert in either program when you start but when you finish you will feel very confident with your photo editing skills and the organization of your digital assets.
The key to keeping track of digital images is to use Lightroom and the author takes you through the learning curve. Once you understand the terminology, how the program works and what it can do, you are on your way. The first step is importing all of your photos into the catalog in the library module in a way that suits your personal organization or workflow. If you don’t have one, you will need one to get started. Your choice might be chronological or by subject, then you can drop down a notch to months or subtopics and on with more specifics that fit your particular choices. It may take some time to gather your photos from all the places they have been filed, but once you make that effort, each time you download additions to your library it will be much easier and much better organized.
The other trick is learning the value of key words, ratings and metadata so that you can retrieve photos from the catalog in the library module. A picture of the Golden Gate Bridge might include key words, water, San Francisco, boats, bridges, landmarks, etc. Enter any of those key words and you will be able to retrieve that picture, along with any others that fit that parameter without looking through a lot of files and folders. The authors also describes the use of folders and collections.
Lightroom has double value. Along with the organization of your images in its data base, it has powerful photo editing features. Your digital assets can be retrieved and then edited in the development module non destructively. A small file is added to the photo indicating the changes and their history but the original is not changed, ever. Lightroom has photo editing capabilities similar to Photoshop and Adobe Camera Raw so you can organize and edit your work with one stop shopping. Photoshop then is the place to go for more editing and creativity with its powerful features and filters.
The author is very helpful as he describes the concepts and features of the programs and gives step by step directions for using them. It is like having a coach or mentor by your side. The book is well illustrated with screen shots for a clearer understanding of the concepts and directions. If you haven’t used Bridge, you will learn the value of it and it’s photo viewing capabilities. If you don’t know Photoshop well or have forgotten a lot you did know, nearly half the book focuses on Photoshop so the book works well as a primer or as a refresher and with its Lightroom component the book gives you more than enough information in a clear and easy manner to improve or expand your photographic world.