Saturday, March 31, 2007

Book Review: Photoshop Blending Modes Cookbook For Digital Photographers by John Beardsworth

by T. Michael Testi ( , PhotographyToday, ATAEE)

If you have ever tried to work with Photoshop's layer blending modes, you probably found that they are not always easy to understand; so much so that many times this feature is overlooked. Photoshop Blending Modes Cookbook For Digital Photographers, using its recipe–format style that made the O'Reilly Digital Studio series famous, will help you on your way to understanding this specialty feature.

What are blending modes? The basic answer is that they are effects that allow one layer to interact with another layer — that is, blend. In CS2 there are over twenty blending modes. They range from those which darken and lighten an image to ones that increase contrast and others that manipulate color.

Photoshop Blending Modes Cookbook breaks out into four sections beginning with "Introduction to Blending Modes". Here Beardsworth sets forth the basic concepts of blending modes. He explains why and when you would want to use blending modes and he describes two main reasons to use them — one as a flavor, the other as an entrée! That is, sometimes you want to make a small subtle effect — a flavor. Or sometimes you want an in-your-face statement to be made — an entrée.

The next section, "Blending Modes in Detail", takes you through each of the blending modes that are available in Photoshop CS2. For example, Color Burn — the author explains that it is the third member of the Darken group. He explains how it works, and gives some examples of where it can be used as well as an example of using it with the Gaussian Blur.

Then the author gets into what Photoshop Blending Modes Cookbook is all about, the "recipes." The recipes are simple, short effects that you can add to your images to give them that little nudge to make them more effective. You will find that you can add a little glow to highlight a face, or to make the skin look softer. There are sharpening techniques and hard shadowing techniques.

The whole point of the book is to allow you to learn simple specific techniques without having to learn everything else about Photoshop. You will learn to manipulate the colors, hues, and saturation as well as working with color shifts. You will be able to adjust lighting, control contrast, and add surface effects and textures. You can even go over the top by adding special color, graphic, and drawing effects to your images.
I found this book easy to read. It has clear, easy to follow instructions that will allow someone with minimal Photoshop experience to make great enhancements to their photos. There are 49 recipes that are highlighted with colorful examples that will have you saying "I never knew you could do that!"

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