Photoshop Book Recommendations for Photographers


Adobe Photoshop CS5 for Photographers
A Professional Image Editor's Guide to the Creative Use of Photoshop

Martin Evening
Focal Press
ISBN: 0-2405-2200-1

Written by a full-time UK-based commercial and fashion photographer and CS3/4/5 alpha tester, this book covers issues most digital photographers face, from workflow issues, color management, color correction, and retouching. Additional issues for those going to press or offset printing, as well as infrared, cross-processing, and the like round out this guide.
Highly recommended.

The Creative Digital Darkroom

Katrin Eismann Sean Duggan, & Stephen Johnson
O'Reilly Media, 1/2008
ISBN: 0-5961-0047-7

This book is aimed primarily at the photographer who wants to learn how to set up a solid workflow to generate quality images with a smooth and effective process. The emphasis is on tone and contrast control and optimization, with large sections dealing raw conversion, dodging and burning, black and white optimization, and so-on. It spends very little time on retouching and compositing, but that exclusion works to the benefit of what IS covered.
Highly recommended. as a first Photoshop book for non-retouchers. Combined with Katrin's Photoshop Restoration and Retouching book (below), it forms a very solid foundation to digital photography.

Photoshop Restoration and Retouching

Katrin Eismann & Wayne Palmer
New Riders Publishing, 11/2006 (3rd edition)
ISBN: 0-3213-1627-4

Katrin is one of the leading Photoshop writer/experts today, and her books are all highly approachable. This one is an excellent guide to basic color correction, retouching, photo repair/restoration, and more.
Highly recommended as an introduction to retouching.

Professional Photoshop: The Classic Guide to Color Correction

Dan Margulis
Wiley, 11/2006 (5th edition)
ISBN: 0-3214-4017-X

In my own opinion, the single best book on color correction and sharpening on the market today. It’s not an easy read, but the techniques in this book should enable anyone to vastly improve the quality of their prints.
Very highly recommended.

Photoshop Masking & Compositing

Katrin Eismann
New Riders Publishing, 10/2004
ISBN: 0-7357-1279-4

A comprehensive (500+) page guide to masking and compositing. It clearly explains what you need to know about dealing with multiple images in a single, “final” image, in a very readable and approachable manner. (Stephen Romaniello’s Photoshop CS3 Channels and Masks Bible is a much weaker alternative.)

The Photoshop CS5 Book for Digital Photographers
The Photoshop CS4 Book for Digital Photographers

Scott Kelby
New Riders Press (8/2007 for CS3, 1/2009 for CS4, 8/2010 for CS5 )
ISBN: 0321501918 (CS3), 0321580095 (CS4), 0321703561 (CS5)

I'm not a fan of most of Scott Kelby's books; they're too recipe/cookbook oriented, and don’t provide enough background info for real learning, but this is an exception. It’s lighter in tone (and less in-depth) than Martin Evening’s Adobe Photoshop CS5 for Photographers, but it covers much of the basics of what most photographers need to know about Photoshop.

Real World Camera Raw with Adobe Photoshop CS5
Real World Camera Raw with Adobe Photoshop CS4

Bruce Fraser & Jeff Schewe
Peachpit Press, 7/2010 (CS5) 12/2008 (CS4)

ISBN: 0321713095 (CS3), 0321580133 (CS4)

Whether you use Adobe's Camera Raw for your Raw conversion or not, this book covers how to get the most from Adobe's Bridge--CS-CS5's file browser. It also deals with issues any photographer using RAW files should understand, from exposure, to camera calibration, workflow issues, metadata, and more.

Real World Image Sharpening with Adobe Photoshop, Camera Raw, and Lightroom

Bruce Fraser and Jeff Schewe
Peachpit Press, 8/2009 (second edition)
ISBN: 0-3216-3755-0 (2nd Edition)

A specialized book, but one which explains when, why, and how to sharpen images for best results. The first edition (labeled 'for CS2') is good, too, but the newer one has more information on incorporating sharpening into an overall workflow, especially for ACR and/or Lightroom users.

Real World Color Management

Bruce Fraser, Fred Bunting, Chris Murphy
Peachpit Press, 8/2004 (2nd Edition)
ISBN: 0-3212-6722-2

In-depth guide to Color Management. It covers an increasingly important topic, but for most photographers, provides more information than is needed. It’s also one of the few guides to the topic that’s not filled with errors and/or overgeneralizations. It’s tailored for those who expect to have to work with multiple printers and/or want to fine-tune their own printers to produce the absolute best images possible.

This is the guide if you want to master Color Management. If you just want a photography-specific guide, Tim Grey’s Color Confidence may be a better choice; it’s somewhat more approachable, albeit with less detail. I can’t recommend Michael Kieran’s Photoshop Color Correction; it had too many errors.

Photoshop LAB Color: The Canyon Conundrum and Other Adventures in the Most Powerful Colorspace

Dan Margulis
Peachpit Press, 8/2005
ISBN: 0321356780

The LAB color model can be tricky to understand, but offers significant advantages over RGB or CMYK for many tasks. While this book is not primarily aimed for the novice, it provides many techniques to quickly and easily improve images in less time than in RGB or CMYK, as well as fix some problems that are impractical--if not impossible--to fix in RGB or CMYK.

Color, contrast, retouching, Shakespeare, selections, and a lot more are covered.

It may be too early to make this claim, but I believe this is as significant a book as Channel Chops was and is equally as likely to be overlooked among the thousands of Photoshop “recipe” books.

It’s not an easy read, but it covers material not available anywhere else.

I do recommend reading Dan’s Professional Photoshop before this one, however. That book goes into more depth on some of the methods he uses in this book, as well as solving many other color issues. This might be best considered as the “second half” of that guide.

Glitterguru on Photoshop: From Concept to Cool

Suzette Troche-Stapp
New Riders Publishing, 10/2004
ISBN: 073571133X

More on the business of high-end retouching, there’s some excellent techniques discussed. She demonstrates a number of techniques that aren’t widely discussed elsewhere.

Commercial Photoshop Retouching: In the Studio

Glenn Honiball
O’Reilly, 8/2005.
ISBN: 0-596-00849-X

Primarily for, as the title says, commercial retouching. Glenn uses different techniques than either Katrin Eismann or Suzette Troche-Stapp, and shows how to get excellent results in a variety of circumstances.

Digital Retouching for Fashion, Beauty, and Portrait Photography in Photoshop CS4

Gry Garness
CS3 eBook PDF 2008:, $30
CS4 eBook PDF 2009:, $38

A very tailored guide to retouching for the topics described. Step-by-step instructions are provided, but theres a wealth of explanations for the underlying principles and foundations of retouching to achieve invisible results.
Highly recommended for intermediate or advanced-level retouchers.

Photoshop Channel CHOPS

David Biedny, Bert Monroy, Nathan Moody
New Riders Publishing, 1/1998
ISBN: 1-56205-723-5

This has been heralded as one of the most important volumes on Photoshop that must be included on a Photoshop professional's bookcase. Written for Photoshop v4, and long out-of-print, I still feel this book is the best guide to Photoshop Channels.

If you want to understand the fundamental underpinnings of Photoshop, or want to learn how to create highly accurate selections without having to draw them, this is the book. Scott Kelby's more recent The Photoshop Channels Book isn't bad, but this is better--if you can get it at a reasonable price.

Skin: The Complete Guide to Digitally Lighting, Photographing, and Retouching Faces and Bodies

Lee Varis
Sybex, 10/2006
ISBN: ISBN-13: 978-0470047330

This is a specialized book, in that it primarily discusses only photographing and retouching people. By doing so, however, it gave the author room to include things which are often neglected in other texts. I don’t recommend it as a “first” or only Photoshop book, but it has enough material not covered elsewhere to make it quite worthwhile adding to a collection.

There are also some sharpening techniques I’ve not run across elsewhere, as well as a procedure for fine-tuning Photoshop’s Camera Raw converter for skintones.

The Art of Photographing Women (Photoshop CS2)

Kevin Ames
Wiley, 12/2006
ISBN: 978-0470048252

As with Lee Varis’ Skin, this is another specialized text, and one that focuses primarily on photographing and retouching people. Spending somewhat less time on the capture side, a little less on color correcting, and much more time on retouching than Skin, it’s a well-balanced book for its topic, if the techniques are used in moderation. (Full-strength application will result in a very plastic, Barbie-like appearance.)

Layers: The Complete Guide to Photoshop's Most Powerful Feature

Matt Kloskowski
Peachpit Press, 2/2008
ISBN: 0321534166

If you’re comfortable with compositing using channels and color correction using adjustment layers, this book doesn’t cover a lot of new ground. If you’re used to doing standard retouching and correction, though, the techniques here will save you a lot of time and aggravation. Like channels, layers are another fundamental aspect of Photoshop, and understanding their strengths (and limitations!) will benefit anyone who does anything elaborate in Photoshop.