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So now I had intentions

The day after the seminar, I flew home and immediately called my Editor at New Riders (we’ll call him “Steve” because, well...that’s his name) and I said, “I know what I want my next book to be—a Photoshop book for digital photographers.” There was a long uncomfortable pause. Steve’s a great guy, and he really knows this industry, but I could tell he was choking a bit on this one. He politely said, “Really, a digital photography book, huh?” It was clear he wasn’t nearly as excited about this concept as I was (and that’s being kind). He finally said, “Ya know, there are already plenty of digital photography books out there,” and I agreed with him, because I just about went broke buying them all. So now I had to convince my Editor that not only was this a good idea, but that it was such a good idea that he should put our other book projects on hold so I could write this book, of which there are (as he put it), “already plenty of digital photography books out there.”

Here’s what I told my Editor that would be different about my digital photography book:

  1. It’s not a digital photography book; it’s a Photoshop book. One that’s aimed at professional and high-end prosumer photographers who either have gone digital, or are just moving to digital. There’d be no discussion of film (gasp!), f-stops, lenses, or how to frame a photo. If they don’t already know how to shoot, this book just won’t be for them. (Note: Editors hate it when you start listing the people the book won’t be appropriate for. They want to hear, “It’s perfect for everybody! From grandma right up to White House press photographers,” but sadly, this book just isn’t.)

  2. I would skip the “Here’s What a Digital Camera Is” section and the “Here’s Which Printer to Buy” section, because they were in all those other books that I bought. Instead, I’d start the book at the moment the photo comes into Photoshop from the camera.

  3. It would work the way digital photographers really work—in the order they work—starting with sorting and categorizing photos from the shoot, dealing with common digital photography problems, color correcting the photos, selecting and masking parts of the photo, retouching critical areas, adding photographic special effects, sharpening their photos, and then showing the final work to the client for approval.

  4. It wouldn’t be another Photoshop book that focuses on explaining every aspect of every dialog box. No sirree—instead, this book would do something different—it would show them how to do it! This is what makes it different. It would show photographers step-by-step how to do all those things they keep asking at my seminars, sending me e-mails about, and posting questions about in our forums—it would “show them how to do it!”

For example, I told Steve that about every Photoshop book out there includes info on the Unsharp Mask filter. They all talk about what the Amount, Radius, and Threshold sliders do, and how those settings affect the pixels. They all do that. But you know what they generally don’t do? They don’t give you any actual settings to use! Usually, not even a starting point. Some provide “numerical ranges to work within,” but basically they explain how the filter works, and then leave it up to you to develop your own settings. I told him I wouldn’t do that. I would flat-out give them some great Unsharp Mask filter settings—the same settings used by many professionals, even though I know some highfalutin Photoshop expert might take issue with them. I would come out and say, “Hey, use this setting when sharpening people. Use this setting to correct slightly out-of-focus photos. Use this setting on landscapes, etc.” I give students in my live seminars these settings, why shouldn’t I share them in my book? He agreed. I also told him that sharpening is much more than just using the Unsharp Mask filter, and it’s much more important to photographers than the three or four pages every other book dedicates to it. I wanted to do an entire chapter showing all the different sharpening techniques, step-by-step, giving different solutions for different sharpening challenges.

I told him about the File Browser, and how there’s so much to it (especially in Photoshop CS), it’s just about a separate program unto itself, yet nobody’s really covering the things photographers are telling me they need to know—like automatically renaming their digital camera photos with names that make sense. Other books mention that you can do that in the File Browser—I want to be the guy that “shows them how to do it!” I want a whole chapter just on the File Browser.

Steve was starting to come on board with the idea. What he didn’t want was the same thing I didn’t want—another digital photography book that rehashes what every other digital photography and Photoshop book has already done. Well, Steve went with the idea, and thanks to him, you’re holding the book that I am so genuinely excited to be able to bring you. But the way the book was developed beyond that took it further than Steve or I had planned.

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