Book Review: Photoshop CS5 for Nature Photographers

A Workshop in a Book

photoshop cs5 for nature photographers book cover for picture-soup.com articlePhotographers Ellen Anon and her son Josh have written Photoshop CS5 for Nature Photographers, A Workshop in a Book, ISBN: 978-0-470-60734-3, published by Sybex, an imprint of Wiley www.wiley.com. The book is written for digital nature photographers who use Photoshop CS5, however the authors also include sidebars throughout the book for users of Photoshop Elements. In certain areas, a Photoshop only icon lets readers know Photoshop, not Elements must be used for a specific task. There are also Try it! sections that encourage readers to put the book down and practice the techniques you’re learning.

In addition to the book, there is a companion website with sample images and ancillary instruction that readers can access, to practice along with what the authors discuss.

One of the first things mentioned by the authors is to use good photographic techniques, because you should capture optimum images to work on, not just “fix it in Photoshop” later. This is the most important idea that every photographer should understand about their work and the use of Photoshop in post-production.

As with a volume on Photoshop tips or techniques, you’d expect sections devoted to such topics as Bridge and Adobe Camera Raw, which are included. Images and screengrabs are included throughout the entire volume, to illustrate the text.

Although the book is written for nature photographers, many of the concepts are basic to digital photography and Photoshop. However, the authors discuss specifics to the niche of nature photography because—if you’re a nature photographer it would be much easier to understand a concept by viewing images of a beautiful landscape not a portrait of a bride and groom or a commercial product shot. It’s the same for any other niche in photography—it’s easier to understand what you’re trying to learn when viewing imagery that matches what you want to create.

Specifically, techniques for nature photographers include blending using gradient masks, creating a virtual split Neutral Density filter, layers adjustments, as well as a chapter each on exposure adjustments, color adjustments, composites and creative effects. The chapter on output discusses general printing techniques including sharpening for output and media choices, as well as options that nature or fine-art photographers might be more apt to create, including adding borders, and how-to create business and greeting card templates.

The section on composites included techniques using stitching, HDR and compositing items from multiple images into one image. Other helpful topics include using plug-ins where applicable, selective adjustments, and painting globally and selectively for fine-art images. One of the more unique techniques is using Photoshop’s Liquify feature to create a one-of-a-kind look—reminiscent to what photographers used to do by altering Polaroid SX-70 prints.

Articles by guest contributors are sprinkled throughout the book, and bring a more rounded view to the reader. Photoshop CS5 for Nature Photographers is full of gems of information—from enhancements to images that give them everything from a natural look to surreal, and everything in between.

For more about the authors, visit their websites: www.ellenanon.com and www.joshanon.com.

— Diane Berkenfeld

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