Friday, December 14, 2007

Book Review: 7-Point System

I have really lived in a incredible time of technological change. Among one of the most interesting has been the digitalization of media. From the late 80s when analog vinyl albums were replaced by digital CD, to motion picture film into digital DVDs in the mid-90s, and still photography into digitized images in the early years of this century.

What really reignited my interest in photography again was that I no longer needed a separate room to develop film, nor the cost that went along with that. I could now have a "digital darkroom" and have the same or much more power than in the analog world.

This digital darkroom has been anchored by the mother of all digital editing software, Adobe Photoshop, which is now in its 10th version. Photoshop is a remarkable tool but it is an open-ended tool that doesn't guide the user through a logical process. One can simply jump into the program and process in any order without concern for what process might make the best image. As digital cameras have replaced film cameras new processes have emerged. In the last few years the "digital workflow" has been the new buzzword in photography.

Back when film photography was becoming popular to greater numbers of people, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Ansel Adams wrote a legendary triad of books about photographic technique that has become the most influential series on photography ever written. The books (The Camera, The Negative, The Print) guided photographers through the process of film photography, from exposure through the final print.

I have recently been working my way through a new book, Scott Kelby's 7-Point System for Adobe Photoshop. The book is the first attempt that I can find that will guide photographers through a critical portion of the digital editing process. It would be extremely unfair to Scott Kelby to compare him with the genius of Adams, so I won't, but the book generally covers portions of the digital equivalent to Adams' "The Negative" and "The Print".

What I really like about the book is that it is broken up into 21 lessons (about a months worth if done every few days) that consistently goes over the same 7 general approaches to editing digital photos. By doing one every few days, the book encourages the reader/editor to open up the software, think about a common approach for editing and organize that approach in a proper order. It has certainly solidified my approach to the editing process. The two pictures in this post are examples of "before" and "after" photos using the concepts taught in the book. The photo is a sunset scene from Maui that I took this summer. The final photo isn't exactly an award winning shot, but certainly an improvement over what I would consider a throw away shot that I began with.

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