The Adobe Photoshop CS5 Book for Digital Photographers

By Scott Kelby

New Riders Press, $54.99 (408 p)
ISBN-10: 0321703561
ISBN-13: 978-0321703569

As Adobe releases new versions of Photoshop, Scott Kelby rewrites his authoritative yet chatty manual to the program to address relevant changes and upgrades. The ubiquitous Kelby (publisher and editor of Layers Magazine and Photoshop User Magazine, president of the National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP), founder of Photoshop World conference) has been the #1 Bestselling computer/technology author in the world for the past six years, and he is fantastically prolific - cranking out several new books annually. 

The quality of his latest book on Photoshop helps to explain Kelby’s success. He takes a very complicated imaging application and manages to distill the most important 'how-tos' for photographers with lively, conversational text and informative illustrations. Kelby takes what might ordinarily be dry subjects (which filter to use when, where to find something in the menu system, what numbers to use as a starting point in a given slider) and explains them clearly, even making them fodder for wacky jokes and flights of fancy.

This latest entry will help photographers harness the power of many additions in Photoshop CS5. For example, the chapter on High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography explains how to use the newly enhanced functionality to create HDR images without needing a third-party plugin. Kelby, ever aware of his audience, also includes a tip or two to mimic the specific look that the old plugins achieved. Another new section includes an explanation of how best to use Content-Aware Fill, the magical new feature within CS5 which lets the software analyze how an image would have looked like if an unwanted object or area had not been in the frame.

Color correction is one of the indispensable subjects covered in the book. Kelby uses
lively, conversational text and informative illustrations to explain his techniques.

As he has in many previous editions, Kelby also covers the usual indispensable subjects for photographers - resizing canvases, dodging and burning, removing unwanted objects, color correction and more. Despite its tremendous accessibility, Kelby’s book is not for everyone. Beginning photographers will be somewhat lost, as Kelby assumes a basic understanding of digital photography. Nor does Kelby expend much ink introducing general concepts in Photoshop use (e.g. layers, masks, and curves), diving right in instead with how to use these tools to achieve various effects.

A familiarity with image editing in general, and even some experience with some version of Photoshop allows for a much more fluid reading of his book. But for advanced amateurs and even pros who need quick and effective techniques for typical image editing in Photoshop, Kelby’s work is the standard by which others are judged.

Adam Koplan is head of the Performance Department at the Dreamyard Project which brings arts programs to NYC schools. He is also Artistic Director of The Flying Carpet Theatre Co.
Follow him on Twitter @FlyingCarpetNYC

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions held by or any affiliated companies.


Total comments: 11
By JayFromSA (Sep 29, 2011)

Same experience with the books by Martin Evening. He is not so prolific, only publishing one or two per Photoshop and Elements release, but they are professional books, to be used as handbooks with in-depth information on the whole software package. Additionally, Evening is part of the Adobe development team, so his books are regarded as the gold standard,

Kelby's books, in my oppinion aims at a different market. It's a lot more populist but has an important place, especially for the amateur photographer. It's a lot more instant recipe (in a very good and useful way) as apposed to academic, in depth information. If you can stand the very America gags (personally I find them very distracting) which are often not even funny, you will find his books useful with excellent advice that really works very well. Up to a point, because the recipes does not work for all images and often you wouldn't know exactly why not.

1 upvote
By l_d_allan (Sep 28, 2011)

I've found PS books by Martin Evening to be more useful than Scott Kelby books ... more depth and less fluff.

Erik van den Elsen
By Erik van den Elsen (Sep 29, 2011)

Totally agree; Martin Evenings's books (the Lightroom editions as well) are real gems full of valuable content and no gabble.

By rightwinger (Oct 1, 2011)

I have a place on my bookshelf for BOTH Evening and Kelby. I like them both and some things become clear after getting hammered home by a couple examples. Martin is a little deeper on much, especially ACR section, and lacks Kelby's jocularity, but I can read past the humor if need be. Upon release of CS6, these will be the two authors I will surely purchase....

By rambler35 (Sep 28, 2011)

The article reads like advertiser's blurb -- no critical content at all.

The book is OK for what it is -- as a "how-to" guide, but many people might wish to also have a "why" guide with more in-depth information which would allow more flexible use of Photoshop.

Carol Stee
By Carol Stee (Oct 27, 2011)

I am disappointed by this review also. All I learned is that Kelby is the best selling author on Photoshop, the book is easy to read, and it is not for beginners.

I have Adobe's 'CS5 Classroom in a Book' and I am looking for a more complete reference guide to Photoshop CS5, by Scott Kelby or Martin Evening or Lesa Snider. I would like a comparison of these books and others too so I can decide for myself which one to get.

By Donny_B (Sep 28, 2011)

I just love Scott Kelby he is just a fantastic teacher (his humour is lost on us Brits though)

1 upvote
By h2k (Sep 28, 2011)

You should mention that he terribly simplifies in order to keep his lectures short and easy-to-consume. Often a procedure could be more precise or more variable by adding one or two steps, such as converting a layer into a smart object - Kelby doesn't care and proceeds with the barebone basics of Photoshopping.

By robflores (Sep 28, 2011)

"A familiarity with image editing in general, and even some experience with some version of Photoshop allows for a much more fluid reading of his book."

Most, if not all of Scott Kelby's books are aimed at the novice in both photography and Photoshop skills.

1 upvote
Kenneth Jones
By Kenneth Jones (Sep 28, 2011)

The review is dated Sept 28 2011, but the book has been out for months! Almost bought it but luckily I checked my bookshelf and found that I already have a copy. I'm such a Kelby fan that I usually buy his books on impulse and I almost bought this one again. I did discover that there is a Kindle version available that should look great on an iPad and make it more convenient to access, so maybe I'll buy that one.

1 upvote
By BobHartung (Oct 17, 2011)

I have several photographic books as Kindle versions. I find reading this type of book on a Kindle difficult as the images and their comments frequently are not visible the same time as you are reading the descriptive text.

Otherwise, I agree, the Kindle versions are handy.

Total comments: 11