Mastering Photoshop Layers
Author: Juergen Gulbins
If you have read any of the author’s other books written with Uwe Steinmüller, Fine Art Printing for Photographers and Managing Your Photographic Workflow with Photoshop Lightroom, you have some idea what to expect with this book. It is detailed, almost encyclopedic, but for the right person at the appropriate stage in his/her Photoshop skill development it is excellent. At the wrong stage it may prove frustrating.
The wrong stage is when you are new to Photoshop. Amazon’s blurb implies that this book will help remove the confusion factor for a new user. I don’t believe it will. Many beginning tutorials are organized by workflow with examples of how to process successively more difficult images which allows the reader to build up skills gradually. This book is organized around program features and specific enhancement techniques. This causes the author to use methods in early sections of the book that are not explained until later in the text. Without a prior understanding of these methods, the reader could get lost.
The right stage to use this book is when you are ready to move past the creation of many good pictures and on to making a few great images. Much of what all of us photographers do can be handled now in Lightroom with maybe a touch of Photoshop or a commercial plug-in like Nik or Topaz. Most of us do not want to spend long hours at the computer so we use this workflow to create good images. Occasionally we capture and image that can be better than good. That is where we should spend the time using the techniques described in this book.
The author describes almost every menu, control, blending mode and adjustment that would be of interest to a photographer developing an image using layers and layer masks. He then covers many sophisticated techniques for manipulating an image to accomplish effects like selective color correction, sharpening, burning and dodging, and merging multiple images. He finishes the way many tutorials begin, by showing the workflow for five images.
One area I don’t believe the author devoted enough emphasis to is luminosity masks. He does describe a couple of way to create and use them, but I believe they are becoming one of the primary tools for creating localized, realistic adjustment and form the core of advanced adjustment blending.
This book is not for every Photoshop user. It is for the user that wants more than just a “good” image. It is not an easy read but does offers substantive techniques for the reader that is ready to work at improving his/her Photoshop skills.