Disperser Bookcases – Part II

First, a reminder of the books we’re looking at:


The last book we looked at was “Strong on Defense” by Sanford Strong, and ex-policeman and SWAT captain.

Next, quite the difference . . . “Scott Kelby’s 7-Point System for Adobe Photoshop“. The title is a little misleading, as there are many steps within each of the steps he illustrates, step-by-step, in this book. Something he does that I’ve seen few people do is give you access to the photos he uses in the lessons. It’s a great book for illustrating fundamentals (and beyond) of post-processing a photograph. This particular version references Photoshop CS3, and he has a later one for CS5 (at nearly twice the price) using the same photos.

I think this one is good enough to give you the gist of what he does, especially since individuals are not necessarily going to agree with the values he chooses for the individual settings. As a methodology, this is something well worth reading and practicing.

The next book . . . “The Photoshop Channels Book” by Scott Kelby. Yep, the man is nothing if not prolific. The Amazon link gives you the option to “look inside”, but here’s what I can tell you. There is a lot of stuff you can do with channels (the individual colors making up the image; Red, Green, and Blue), ranging from masking, to adjustment layers, to conversion to Black & White, to improving color, to sharpening, to adding special effects.

The book shows you all that with examples, and once again you can download most of the samples HERE. You can substitute your own photos for those not included due to permission issues.

Taking a break from Kelby, we go to another recognizable name in the world of Photography. The book is “Digital Photography Secrets” by Rick Sammon, and it includes a DVD with 90 minutes of video tutorials.

This book begins with guidelines ranging from composition, to cropping, to adjusting exposure, to playing with light. It then goes into the mechanics, advantages, and limits of digital cameras before delving into people, landscape, animal, macros, equipment, useful and informative sites, and digital darkroom ideas.

Photoshop’s Layers” by Matt Kloskowski (a buddy/employee of Kelby) is another semi-advanced post-processing technique, and a powerful one at that. Most of the neat stuff you do with Photoshop is done with layers. And yes, this too comes with a site where you can download the photos used in the lessons.

Want to adjust an image? Layers.
Want to blend images? Layers.
Want to create a mask? Layers.
Want to add type and shapes, enhance a photo, add a unique style, or retouch a photo? Layers.

In other words, if you use Photoshop, perhaps it would be a good idea to learn about Layers. Just saying.

We return to Scott Kelby with his series of “The Digital Photography Book“. There are five books, and I own numbers 1, 2, and 4. Now, I like Scott Kelby. He writes with a sense of humor, is clear, and usually presents stuff that is really useful to the run-of-the-mill photographer.

The premise behind the books is that he goes out for shooting sessions with professional photographers, he learns their tricks, and he tells them to you in his books.

The thing is that as much as I like the guy, he is a greedy little (or not so little) son-of-a-gun. Book One was really good. Lots of great hints, and stuff I still occasionally read as refresher when I’m about to do particular shoots.

Book Two has advice on lighting, equipment, some techniques for portrait and landscape photography, and just things in general one might want to think about. I would rank it less than Book One and well above a door stop as far as usefulness goes.

Book Three was not rated very highly, and I did not buy it because when I read the description it seemed like a rehash of books One and Two.

I bought Book Four . . . and could have done without it. Sure, more info on lighting, but I have other books on lighting, plus there is a lot of information on the web, all for free. Advice on equipment I can’t afford or don’t need, and techniques for the type of photography I don’t do (I suppose others might find it useful, but to me it seemed a rehash of Book Two).

Book Five I’m not even looking at.

Now, the site says all these have been revised to make them more useful. Right.

I would definitely advise buying Book One, and give Book Two a “maybe”. The rest I can’t advise, but people should look at them for themselves . . . perhaps they are interested in how one can use ziplock bags to protect lenses from the rain, or how one can fit more photos in a memory card by shooting at a lower resolution, or even that when composing an outdoor photo one should avoid features that might draw the eye, like poles and signs.

Thank you, Scott . . . I think I could have worked that out on my own.

I say that, but then again many people I encounter seem to lack even the wisdom FSM gave door knobs, so perhaps they will find the later books useful.

The little booklet is . . .

Office Bookcase031

As guides go, it’s equivalent to the instructions on a frozen dinner package; pop into the microwave and push the button. It does have some generic advice on framing and composing photos, but overall, meh!

It does, however, have a nice description of my first digital camera, my still working Nikon D100.

Office Bookcase030

So, by now people are bored to tears, glancing at their watch, and wondering how they might escape what seems to be a major drain to whatever life they have left.

Let me remind you that I was asked for this. I will try to make it entertaining, and do so by using my considerable and weird sense of humor. But not right now . . . right now I continue with the books.

People who read my stuff, and especially people who read my photography-related stuff, will remember me referencing Thom Hogan. His site has a lot of information on techniques, equipment, seminars, and industry news. I preferred his old format for the review pages, but the new arrangement is easily navigable, and his recommendations with regards to cameras and lenses carry some weight.

He also writes amazingly in-depth guides for a number of camera bodies. The first thing I did when I bought my D7000 was to order his  D7000 Guide. Having bought his D200 guide I was expecting the same thoroughness in covering the camera. He delivered, and then some. The book is a brick, and it comes with a CD that contains the e-book version and custom settings he uses. It also comes with a spiral-bound quick reference booklet (on the next shelf).

If you have a camera for which he has written a guide, do yourself a favor and buy his guide.

OK, I know this is getting boring, but . . . here, let me share a joke. Well, a cartoon . . . well, maybe a few cartoons, like three.


Annoyance global_warming

OK, back to the books. 

What we have next is the Nikon School of Photography Handbook. I have that exact edition, and it is full of charts, graphs, and all sorts of stuff I meant to force myself to learn before actually using a camera.

I’m an engineer, so what better way to ease into photography by understanding the technical aspects and ramifications of various settings? Well, in my case it was to just start using the dang camera. In truth, that is the True Engineer’s Way. If you can’t figure it out without a step-by-step guide, well then, you ain’t worth spit as an engineer. 

And now we are at the last three books for this post. Honest, I know I’m repeating myself, but it gets better in subsequent posts.

Anyway, onward and upwards . . . er . . . sideways.

The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 for Digital Photographers by Scott Kelby. I actually linked the version for the latest release of Lightroom, version 5.Honest, I bought this on an impulse and because it was cheap . . . still wasted my money because I didn’t use it.

However, if you are beginning to use Lightroom, are anal about learning, and are not an engineer, then this might be a useful book to own . . . for about a month. If you are using Lightroom, you will figure out most of what’s in this book before you get through the first few chapters. There is no teacher like necessity and time.

At this point I should state the obvious to anyone who has any proficiency in using the Internet; there are a crapload of tutorials, both video and written, about using Lightroom and Photoshop. The thing is, while I like online help, I still prefer having a manual (or help book) in my hands when I do something new and difficult involving Lightroom or Photoshop.

I have a big screen (30 inches), and I can’t always fit these programs side by side on the screen along with the instruction article or video. A book is my preferred delivery vehicle for this kind of help. 

And these next two books are worth having . . . the first, Photoshop Down & Dirty Tricks for Designers by Corey Baker, gathers a lot of the tips and tricks one finds in the Photoshop magazine (and online at the KelbyOne site) and presents them in a clear and concise way, with examples. The link to Amazon (above) has the option to look inside, for them so inclined. Lots of good stuff, I tell you.

And the last book is The Adobe Photoshop CS6 Book for Digital Photographers  (Voices that Matter) by Scott Kelby. 

I do most of my work in Lightroom, onOne, Topaz, and Dxo. But all those are for processing large numbers of photos. When I want to actually edit a photo, I go to Photoshop . . . and because I have the Cloud version, I bought this book to help me navigate the literally thousands of things you can do with the program. Admittedly, the plugins will let me do 90% of what I want, but occasionally one has to get their fingernails digitally dirty, and dig into a photograph. 

Mind you, I don’t do it often, but here; a very early effort (from 2002) . . . 

DSC_0101-meadows-mountains-101 Pops-2

This post has some of my more recent efforts (modest as they might be).

Not saying those are good, but when I want to do something, I crack open one of them books and figure it out.

I was asked why I have all them Photoshop books . . . because sometimes books can serve as catalysts to other things. Just reading that I can do something may one day propel me to actually doing it. 

. . . or they can sit in my bookcase as reminders of what I could be doing if I were motivated.

OK, no more photoshop books . . . 

Thank you for reading the second installment, and I hope you join me for the remainder of the trip through my library. Lots of good stuff to come, if I do say so myself (I usually have to, as few others ever speak so).

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ o o o o o o ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Free Range Noose
Free Range Noose

Astute persons might have noticed these doodles, and correctly surmised they hold some significance for me, and perhaps for humanity at large.  

If you click on the doodle, and nothing happens, this is the link it’s supposed to go to: https://disperser.wordpress.com/2011/12/26/palm-vx-and-i/.


Note: if you are not reading this blog post at Disperser.Wordpress.com, know that it has been copied without permission, and likely is being used by someone with nefarious intention, like attracting you to a malware-infested website.  Could be they also torture small mammals.


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. . .  my FP ward  . . . chieken shit.