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