book buying advice

PB
Posted By
Paul_Bullen
Oct 3, 2003
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605
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30
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Closed
I have put my tentative conclusions about book buying below. But since others are much more familiar with the range of books available, I would like to know if people would agree with my assessment. I don’t want to be handing out bad advice.

1) If you can afford two books, get the Mikkel Aaland’s _Photoshop Elements 2 Solutions_ first and then move on to the Lynch book
2) If you can afford only one book, get the Lynch book if you have some academic capacities, and get the Aaland book if you want to avoid heavy lifting.

(Since both books are published by the same publisher (Sybex), I would suggest that they be available together as a package, as introductory and intermediate texts, with some discount. As it is at the moment, you can get both for a total of $56 including shipping from Amazon, if you don’t mind waiting a week or two for delivery. I ended up paying $44 (including tax) for just the Lynch book.)

In any case, can this advice be improved upon?

Paul (Bullen)

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KL
Kenneth_Liffmann
Oct 3, 2003
I have both books and they are complimentary in scope. $56 is a great price. One needs to master the material in the Aaland book before embarking on the Lynch book which is more advanced in concept.
Ken
JC
Jane_Carter
Oct 3, 2003
Also is the option of looking for the used books on Amazon, I have had very good results with this, every one I have purchased has been in new or almost new condition, and sometimes less than 1/2 price. You just have to wait a bit longer to receive them.
Jane
JH
Jim_Hess
Oct 3, 2003
OK, I guess I will stir the waters a little bit. Personally, I wouldn’t go purchase a lot of books. I wonder how many people actually take time to read the help file that comes with Elements. There’s actually a lot of excellent information provided there. And there are some excellent web sites that have tutorials that are very good. But in my opinion, the best thing anyone can do is start out by experimenting on a couple of non-critical photos. Find out for yourself what the different features in Elements will do for you. Get a feel for the program under your belt, and then take a look at the books that are available. I found that I had quite a different perspective on what I was interested in after I had played with Elements for a while. Nobody should expect to put out a masterpiece on their very first project. Everyone should take the time to become familiar with the different brushes and filters and masks, etc., etc., etc.. What Elements books have I purchased? None yet. There is a lot about the program that I still don’t understand, and therefore don’t use. But I’m able to get the results I want. I’m not bragging, believe me. But on other forums not even related to Elements the new users often ask questions like, "What will happen if I…." The program is sitting on the computer right there in front of you. Try things out, and if they don’t work don’t save the file.
CS
Chuck_Snyder
Oct 3, 2003
Jim, I think it’s a matter of personal learning style; some derive the maximum benefit and quickest education from books and tutorials, while others thrive on a learn-by-doing approach such as you’ve describe.. I’m in the first category, I believe, and have amassed a fair number of Photoshop and Elements books. For me, the books not only show me the basics, but also give examples of techniques and hidden capabilities that I would never have been exposed to otherwise. But that’s just my way – everybody does it differently, and that’s great!

Chuck
JH
Jim_Hess
Oct 3, 2003
Chuck,

Good point.

Jim
PD
Pete_D
Oct 3, 2003
Oh yeah. I knew a fellow that could only process information by writing it. I am ashamed to say that I found it very amusing to see him constantly writing,….. and I mean constantly. At meetings, at lunch and I was told he even wrote while in the rest room. Not just notes; Full word descriptions of what he saw, heard and thought. It never ended. (sorry, I am chuckling about this again)

But I myself like Jim learn PSE mostly by experimenting, reading "help" and of course this forum 🙂

Pete
EM
Eric_Matthes
Oct 3, 2003
The best learning uses a balance of those resources. The help files are good, but it is quite useful to see the examples that the books give us. Internet resources are amazing; it is the collective wisdom of all of us using the program. It’s a lot easier, and more efficient, to consult a book for the basics and use the internet for more in-depth, specific research. Trial and error leads us to questions that can be answered quickly by the book and internet resources.
I learned to program javascript this summer by looking stuff up online. Then I got a book (one book, not a pile) at the end of the summer, and my efficiency shot up.
I think people (my dad!) make the mistake of buying a whole bunch of books, and then hardly using any of them, or feelig overwhelmed. Better to just buy one or two books, and use them until they can no longer answer your questions.
R
Ray
Oct 4, 2003
I go with Chuck on that subject. I do buy books (not tons, but let’s say, many!) because they show me how to use the various tools in an integrated way. I mean individually, for the tools, on-line help and manuals are ok. But, say the layer’s blending mode, they can be very handy for various things (retouching a picture for example), but I wouldn’t have figured this out by myself. So before I buy a book, I take the time to look through the procedures shown and if I see stuff I would
have never imagined doing, then the book is made for me!

Online help is fine for a precise description of a tool, recipes are Ok, at best. But to learn how to make a crystal ball, for example, you can’t find this in help, neither in the recipes. Once I learned how to make a crystal ball, I can make a wine glass, a window, etc.

For PSE, the instruction manual is quite complete at listing and describing the tools, but not using
them in a workflow or to achieve a complex task. I needed more help than what it provided.

For other softwares, I will need a book I can search and find what’s missing in the on-line help or the manual. In that case, what I do is I take each book (well, those that appears to have a reasonable price / quality ratio) and search for specifics, and look up in the pages for what I searched. If I can’t find anything, or that I need to constantly rephrase my search to find something, the book isn’t for me.

My best books are Photoshop 7 Wow book and Photoshop 7 Down & Dirty Tricks (many of these lessons
can be adapted for Photoshop Elements). Also, The Photoshop 7 book for digital photographers (this one is not easily adaptable for PSE).

Ray
P.S. If an editor could make a book that stays open with a plastic spiral binding… That would be the icing on the cake!
DS
Dick_Smith
Oct 4, 2003
On Fri, 3 Oct 2003 18:36:01 -0700, Ray wrote:

P.S. If an editor could make a book that stays open with a plastic spiral binding… That would be
the icing on the cake!

Ray, I’m with you on that one! Some of the textbook companies do that kind of binding. I have about 6 books for teaching Word, Excel and Powerpoint that are in the spiral fashion.

If you’re sitting in front of the computer and want to try something out, that would be a great help.

Dick


Using M2, Opera’s revolutionary e-mail client: http://www.opera.com/m2/
ML
Marty_Landolt
Oct 4, 2003
JIM,
I tend to buy too many books just as I do with equipment. I should do more with the experimenting factor but, doggone it, I’m simply too fascinated with this Challenge. My PSE Users’ Guide book stays open pretty good and shows the wear to prove it. I am definitely one in favor of formal classes. Better still, ones that cost $$. I need the discipline!
Marty
LM
Lou_M
Oct 4, 2003
Ray and Eric hit it on the spot: books, tutorials, and help systems are all complementary to each other.

The Help system and documentation are very good at the ‘what’, but very light on the ‘when’ and ‘why’ of things. I’ve done more with Elements in the past few weeks (with Aaland’s and especially Kelby’s books) than I have in the previous year.

For someone not used to image editing programs, Photoshop is hard to get a grasp on. It’s getting better as I read books, but I remember the frustration of not being able to, say, click on a layer and do an Edit–>Copy and Edit–>Paste (that’s just not the way Elements works). The lack of circle, rectangle, and line tools also drove me nuts (no, you’ve got to create a selection and Edit–>Stroke it!). The Help system/documentation doesn’t really cover this well.

Now that books have helped me get a good grasp of Elements concepts, what I really need now is a good dose of inspiration and creativity. I was so proud of my creation for Challenge #35, and then I looked at the other submissions 🙁 But that’s OK, I’m learning! 🙂
BB
Betsy_Burch
Oct 4, 2003
This is a great discussion – very helpful to me as I tend to buy too many books as well. Then, it occurred to me in the midst of printing a number of the discussion strings from this forum that I could create my own book by simply hole-punching and putting in a binder all of the discussions I have printed – kind of a "duh??!!" experience! And, my new "book" contains only the ideas/directions, etc. that match my current needs for using PE2. Just a thought! Betsy
R
Ray
Oct 4, 2003
Betsy,

I have done the same for my camera and for Photoshop 7. I have gathered a number of tips and recipes (I’ve either created or got from the web), made them into a Word document, that sits on my desktop. I’ve created an index and a table of content and now, I am able to find everything I need!

Ray
R
Ray
Oct 4, 2003
Lou,

There’s a book I got on sale (20$) entitled : Creative Thinking in Photoshop. You might wanna take a look at this one. Don’t buy it if it’s at the regular price, it’s not exactly worth it. Not that
the book is bad in itself, it just wasn’t *exaclty* what I was looking for. But for the price, it was ok.

Ray
RL
Richard_Lynch
Oct 4, 2003
It may surprise some…I DEFINITELY think you need to try to read the manual and learn the basic tools and functions before bothering with a book.

My personal idea would be to experiment…however, that is pretty vague. What might be more helpful is to gather up a few images and set goals for correcting each. for example, "1) learn how to correct red-eye, and 2) work with the red eye tool and clone stamp" Biting it off in little bits — 1-2 tools a day for a month — will get you up to speed pretty quickly.

I’d be glad to help some people out with that right here on the forum (or on mine). I don’t think you should have to buy a book to cover the basics. That really should be part of the program!

Post questions or send me an email (check my profile).

Richard Lynch
R
Ray
Oct 4, 2003
Richard,

I think there is a time and place for everything. A book, for me, is really fine when I am in the subway train, or at lunch time. This forum is fine when I work in front of the computer.

Learning the tools is fine, and I did it. Now, if I want to acheive a creative image (from scratch,
just like Jodi does, for example), the PSE manual is really of little help. Sure, I’ll know how to use the tools, but I still won’t have no clue as to where to start, how to build my various elements, etc. That’s why I believe books that show how to do stuff are great. Once you get the general idea, you may experiment and create your own path.

Also, there are two main types of book : Photo restoration and Creativity help. There are probably other books around, but those two types are the most common. I prefer the second type, books that help me create stuff.

Ray
RL
Richard_Lynch
Oct 4, 2003
"A book, for me, is really fine when I am in the subway train, or at lunch time. This forum is fine when I work in front of the computer."

I don’t know…I’d hate for people to read any of my stuff when they weren’t in front of a computer as there is no way to follow it and test it out. I write with the idea in mind that people are sitting there (like I am) hands on the controls.

"Learning the tools is fine, and I did it. Now, if I want to acheive a creative image from scratch, the PSE manual is really of little help. Sure, I’ll know how to use the tools, but I still won’t have no clue as to where to start, how to build my various elements, etc."

The same advice I gave earlier applies in a slightly different way. You don’t go trying to create a scene with, say, birds in a field without having some sense of putting objects together…how they are effected by light and shadow, etc. Teaching that in an Elements book can only be rudimentary…while I think there are some advanced examples I can think of off the top of my head, it breaks down into highlight and shadow (for shaping and texture), and tone and color…The intangible part is your ability to envision the result, and the latter is very difficult to teach. I’d go in a different direction entirely and suggest a studio art class!

You might benefit from various effects books (like Al Ward’s: < http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0764525972/newwriting /> ). what I’d do to practice is create objects from scratch that you might want to use in a scene. For example, you might try to create a bicycle tire (more difficult than you might think!), or other static objects (windows, walls, patterns, textures)…Even simple objects like billiard balls can pose interesting challenges. there aren’t many books that walk you through object creation…most get involved with simple things like red-eye.

Name an object…we could take a look at some approaches to creating it.

Richard
R
Ray
Oct 4, 2003
Richard,

I won’t argue with you that reading a computer book in front of the computer is the preferable thing
to do. I don’t know for others, but I do read an entire chapter in advance before I actually proceed in trying the examples in the book. Many times, it helps to understand the general direction which I’m embarking on, and clears away some questions that would pop up while doing the exercises. I read a chapter while going to and getting back from work, always carrying PostIt bookmarks in my bag. When I see something I don’t understand, or an example that strikes me, I put a sticker on the page, to make sure I’ll try this one the same evening. The way I see this, it’s like getting ready for a class. I don’t usually wait for the teacher to read the book in front of the class, I tend to arrive a little prepared 😉

I have Al’s book (I said I didn’t have a ton of books, but I do have several ones!). This is exactly the kind of book I like. It shows how to create stuff. From there, I got the idea and created other things. Photoshop 7 Wow Book is also great for that. And, of course, I have your book (for that matter, I wrote to you for some questions, a few months ago). At the time I was trying to read it, it was way over me. Now, I think I should revisit it.

But currently, I’m working with Bryce, so I have very little time to play with Photoshop / Photoshop
Elements. Consequently, I have very few questions on creating particular stuff. Thanks for the offer anyway!

Ray
PA
Patti_Anderson
Oct 4, 2003
Ray wrote: <<P.S. If an editor could make a book that stays open with a plastic spiral binding… That would be the icing on the cake!>>

Have your icing with the cake, Ray. Take your most used PE or PS reference books to the nearest office supply store (e.g. Office Max, Staples) and have them put a metal spring type binding on for you. A basic black metal spiral at Staples costs me under under $5.00. Worth every penny! Be sure to ask for the metal spring type, not plastic.

Patti
R
Ray
Oct 4, 2003
Patti, thanks I really never thought of that! We have an Office Depot about 5 minutes walk from the
office. I’ll check with them on Monday!

Thanks again!

Ray
ML
Marilyn_Lee
Oct 5, 2003
The best investment I ever made in learning Elements (once I got past the very basic Basics so it was worth the cost) was to pay a local Elements expert for two hours of one-on-one training. I provided him with samples of projects I wanted to do along with a list of questions, and he solved problems and gave me directions that would have taken me hours of research, assuming I even had an inkling of what terminology to search under, which in many cases I did not.

Experimenting with Elements tools to see what their different options are is something I’m still uncomfortable with even though I’ve used Elements for close to a year now. When you make changes to tool options, those changes then become the defaults. I’ve ended up reinstalling the software a couple of times trying to correct a cropping problem that turned out to be simply the wrong feathering amount in the option box. The feathering amount had apparently been changed while experimenting on another project. (Nancy Soderman on the Forum, bless her, headed me back in the right direction on that one.) Playing may not "break" Elements, but it sure can make it head off in a totally unexpected direction.

My main criteria when I look for computer books to buy (for any topic, not just Elements) are PICTURES and ACCOMPANYING EXPLANATIONS. If the books consist of mostly text, I put them back. A picture for me really does take the place of a thousand words because there aren’t enough hours in the day for me to read novels for every software program I have to learn. The Adobe PSE User Guides that came with my Elements 1 and 2 software are sitting in an almost pristine condition on my bookshelf because they consist of 98% text.

I have most of the well-known Elements books. What I really wish I had is a book by Jodi Frye on techniques she uses to create her wonderful and magical illustrations!

Marilyn
LM
Lou_M
Oct 5, 2003
Good idea, Marilyn. Hey, Jodi, have you written–or considered writing–an article for a Photoshop magazine? Or a book?
GD
Grant_Dixon
Oct 5, 2003
Marilyn

Oh … I love the idea of a book by Jodi but form me it would be a coffee table book.

As far as books and people go I suspect that there are as many ways to approach this as there are humans. An antidote story is how a friend , john, and I differ. I think is an absolute wealth of knowledge when it come to computers and when he wants to learn something he reads books without ever touching the computer. He may read a dozen books before he rolls up his sleeves and gets to work. Now John thinks I am the one with the wealth of knowledge when it come to computers but my approach is quit different. I get in right from the get-go and push buttons and pull leaver, comparing this with that. After I have done all this and only then do I read books in an attempt to level out the peaks and valleys of what I have learned. The process seems to take the same time in each case. Which way is better? I suspect it depends on whether you are John or Grant. I should point out that I am an avid reader … just not of technical books.

Grant
BH
Beth_Haney
Oct 5, 2003
I think some of us need to learn from a variety of media. I have four books for Elements now – each slightly different and ranging from basic, Aaland and Kelby, to advanced, Richard Lynch, and specialized, Katrina Eismann. Often reading about something isn’t enough, though, and sometimes experimenting still doesn’t get me where I want to go. That’s when either step by step online tutorials for creating something specific (a new brush), or a post on the forum (how can I resize my oval selection?!) are the best approach.
RL
Richard_Lynch
Oct 6, 2003
Beth,

I’d be glad to field those questions if you have time to ask them. Personally the Eismann book ( http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0735713502/newwriting) coupled with mine is a pretty powerful combo for advanced use.

Resize that oval selection by making the selection, create a new layer and fill with white (any color will do), resize the selection using Transform and delete the layer. this alows you to resize the selection without distorting any of the image.

richard
BH
Beth_Haney
Oct 7, 2003
Good grief, Richard, where were you sometime last December when several of us took about 30 posts to get to that point! 🙂 It was kind of fun, but yours is now about the third method posted to get to the same place.

Actually I did send you a message about Batch Processing to a resolution not preset in Elements. Did you ever figure out how to do that?
PA
Patti_Anderson
Oct 7, 2003
Thank you, Richard! Being one of those who asked about resizing ovals recently, this is just what I was looking for! If you lower the opacity on that new layer/oval, it lets you see *exactly* what you’re including as you resize it. So cool!

Patti
JF
Jodi_Frye
Oct 7, 2003
ok, the book thread finally caught up to me. I just don’t have much time to focus on writing a book or reading one for that matter..i try. I don’t have any books on Elements either. ‘focus’ is very important for me to achieve a certain goal. I haven’t gotten anywhere near where i want to be and it annoys me. I do a little here and a little there. a 2 year old boy keeps me insane throughout the day and a 5 year old girl means rarely a quiet moment…thank goodness kindergarten has her mouth for 6 and half hours a day now. Thanks for your thoughts though, they mean alot.
CS
carl_sutherland
Oct 7, 2003
I’m with Marilyn Lee. I can see all 627 variations on a technique described in writing and am paralyzed by all the possibilities. One image clears all that instantly. For those that are similarly "gifted" and starting, the "Teach Yourself Visually" book on PSE is a great place to get grounded in the program.

Carl
PL
Paul_L_UK
Oct 7, 2003
In my view, there are differing ways of learning. I have had many ‘discussions’ on the matter at work, to do with technical training. There are those who prefer ‘on the job experience’ and those who prefer formal training.

With ‘on the job’, like tinkering, the majority of the time the end result may be achieved without any understanding of why it was done in that way. Repetitive tasks become embedded as the norm, and it is difficult to add variation because the understanding of why the solution was done that way is not there. Also, bad habits can be picked up without realizing.

With training, like book reading, the knowledge and experience of the trainer/author is at your fingertips, and although you may disagree with how they do things, if you have got to that point, you have already got a greater understanding of the ‘what and why’ the task. Now, all the bad habits you have are all your own.

To completely understand a subject, a balance between facts and fiddling must be found, and that is purely up to the individual and how they best assimilate the knowledge.

In my experience, when I have been asked questions or trained somebody, giving the complete solution normally means that I will get the same question again. Starting them off in the right direction of finding the solution, with a little assistance, means they achieve understanding whilst learning from their own mistakes.

Sorry it’s a bit long.

Paul

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