Adobe Photoshop Master Class

Second Edition: The Essential Guide to Revisioning Photography
Adobe Photoshop Master Class

Second Edition: The Essential Guide to Revisioning Photography

By John Paul Caponigro

Peachpit Press, 2003

ISBN 0-321-13010-3

Let me state up front that this is an amazing book and deserves a place
on the bookshelf of not only everyone working with photography
digitally but also everyone with aspirations in digital art.

John Paul Caponigro is a master craftsman digital photographer. I say
this because throughout his work, and through this book, there is the
fine and subtle attention to detail that separates the craftsman from
the dilettante. He is also an artist, taking the rather tired fine
print aspects of traditional photography into a whole new creative

The book is a mix of portfolio and wonderful educational tool. Chapters
take you step by step through aspects of digital imaging, color theory
and working digitally in monochrome to layer work and advanced blending
techniques. Nicely covered along with the technical issues are the
often overlooked but far more important issues of image composition and
design. The book is divided into six sections.

The opening section, Fundamentals: Input to Output has chapters on:

  • Architecture
  • Color management
  • Size
  • Input
  • 16 bit
  • Tone
  • Color
  • Comparison
  • Selections
  • Restoration
  • Sharpen
  • Softproof
  • Output I: Print
  • Output II: Film

And does a good job of not only covering these fundamental topics but
ensuring that the reader and author are using a common language for the
rest of the book.

The second section, (R)Evolutionary Techniques: Translating Tradition
does a good job of extending the traditional photography dialog into
the digital domain and potentials. Chapters include:

  • Color accuracy
  • Color expression
  • The language of night
  • Converting color to black and white
  • Infrared – black and white
  • Multitone
  • One source, many destinations
  • Atmospheric perspective
  • Local contrast
  • Contrast/contour mask
  • Edge

Along the way through these chapters the reader is drawn into
considering their images well beyond the mere technical aspects of
driving Photoshop.

The third section, (R)Evolutionary Techniques: Compositing for
Classicists concentrates on expansion, expansion of field of view and
expansion of dynamic range, to pick just two. Chapters include:

  • Extending format
  • Extending dynamic range
  • Reorchestrating light
  • Painting with light
  • Focus
  • Grain/noise

The fourth section, (R)Evolutionary Techniques: Alterations,
concentrates on compositional aspects of image design and, along the
way, gets you using Photoshop smartly. The four chapters are:

  • Scale
  • Proportion
  • Reflection
  • Elimination

The fifth section, (R)Evolutionary Techniques: atmospheric Effects,
concentrates on the aspects that often let down the beginning image
compositor, namely:

  • Atmosphere
  • Smoke
  • Snow/rain
  • Rainbows
  • Illumination
  • Stars
  • Lightning
  • Rays of light
  • Shadows

These aspects are tough because they often form the subtle clues that
we use to assess whether an image works, holds together and is
internally consistent. Again, while seemingly concentrating on image
design and aesthetic issues you learn some excellent Photoshop

The last section, ®Evolutionary Techniques: Montage, concentrates on
building on all the previous content when putting multiple images
together. Chapters include:

  • Skies
  • Recontextualization
  • Multiple exposure
  • Futurism
  • Multiplicity
  • The extended moment
  • Symmetry
  • Tessellation

This book covers a lot of territory in its 500 pages. None of the
techniques covered are introduced just for the sake of technique, they
are introduced and placed in a context that emphasizes the creation of
a strong overall image. The book is profusely illustrated and I like
the introduction to each chapter where the author shares the personal
experience of capturing the main image, responding to the location or
seeing the image evolve on the computer. This is something too many
authors forget to do. Yet it is so important in establishing trust
between the reader and the author that the information in the book
comes from great practical experience. It also clearly shows how the
author applies what he (in this case) is teaching to their own work.
The personal touch in this book is great.

As I effectively said in the opening, this is a great book. Not just a
collection of Photoshop techniques, as too many books are, it is rather
a collection of Photoshop techniques placed in the context of how to
use them to create really great images. In this sense it is far
superior to the technique only books, because what value is knowledge
without the wisdom of how and when to use it?


Every person working with photography on the computer will benefit from
this book. I use it extensively in my 1st and 2nd year undergraduate
(college) teaching of photography and digital art. All photographers
moving to digital should read this book from cover to cover and
actually try everything mentioned. You may not stay using all the
techniques, in fact you would hope not, but it will help you evolve
your own style and provide you with a solid base to do that. Digital
artists should also read this book, as it is loaded with good practices
and a good way of thinking about and crafting your images. Very highly

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