Photoshop CS4 for Dummies By Peter Bauer . April 2010 . Vol. 16 No. 4

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Photoshop CS4 for Dummies By Peter Bauer
Book Review By Howard Berenbon

If you’re new to the world of digital photography and decided that Photoshop CS4 was a program you need for your work, or play, then you should consider some help from Photoshop CS4 for Dummies by Peter Bauer.  Don’t let the title dissuade you from trying a “Dummies” book.   They’re written by experienced computer experts who clearly describe features and functions in a style anyone can understand.  Although it’s marketed more for the beginner, experienced users can benefit.  I was resistant to try a Dummies title until I picked up Dreamweaver CS4 for Dummies by Janie Warner last August (see my review in August 2009).  I was very happy I did, because, although it started with the basics, by the end of the book I was programming Websites with some advanced techniques, easily learned from Janie’s step-by-step instruction.  So, if you’re new to digital photography and Photoshop, you will definitely learn the ropes of the program starting with the very basic concepts.  If you already know the basics, you can jump ahead into lots of hints, tricks and tips to help you get the most out of Photoshop CS4.

Here’s What’s Inside

The book consists of 20 chapters divided into 5 important sections (in a similar format to other Dummies books) with 388 illustrated, color pages, and a comprehensive index.  You’ll start with the Introduction for an overview, and then jump right in to Photoshop basics. 

Part I: Breezing through Basic Training, Chapters 1 through 4

In Chapters 1 through 3, you’ll get an overview of Photoshop with what it can do, learn a lot about digital images from pixels to resolutions and their formats, and go through the menus, panels, tools and workspaces.  In Chapter 4 you’ll learn how to get your images into Photoshop and save them to you computer or external drives in a number of formats, for printing or use online.

 Part II: Easy Enhancements for Digital Images, Chapters 5 through 9

Chapter 5 offers details on adjusting tonality, understanding histograms, working with levels and curves, covering overall control of your image using automatic and manual correction tools. Chapter 6 covers colors and how to make adjustments, choosing color adjustment commands, manual corrections to individual channels and flesh tone formulas. Chapter 7 details the Camera Raw Plug-In for manipulating the unprocessed and uncompressed image data from your camera. Chapter 8 helps with fine tuning your adjustments and Chapter 9 offers help on fixing your photographic flaws, like removing red eye and unwanted light glare from eyeglasses.

Part III: Creating “Art” in Photoshop, Chapters 10 through 15

In Chapter 10 you’ll learn how to combine images into a composite photo.  Chapter 11 offers instruction on precision edges and vectors, using shape layers, and using the pen tool to create paths.   Chapter 12 details information on layer styles and creating custom layers, and Chapter 13 covers adding text to your images. Chapters 14 through 15 details Photoshop’s painting tools and using filters to correct your images or adding special effects.

Part IV:  Power Photoshop, Chapter 16 and 17

Chapter 16 covers streamlining your work with information on Batch commands, Photoshop’s Actions (playback recorded steps to adjust another image), Scripts (more powerful than Actions) and Adobe Bridge for generating multi-page PDF files and Web Galleries.  Chapter 17 touches on Photoshop CS4 Extended features with information on painting and layers in 32-Bit Color, Smart Object Stack Modes, working with 3D art, editing imported video, analyzing pixels and more. 

Part V: The Part of Tens, Chapter 18 through 20.

Chapter 18 and 19 cover some of the author’s top ten Photoshop tips, and information about the Wacom Tablet, a device used with Photoshop in place of the mouse for drawing and manipulating photos.  And finally, Chapter 20 offers reasons for owning a digital camera: specifically for your work, for yourself and for others.

Photoshop CS4 for Dummies by Peter Bauer sells for $19.79 and is a great guide for either the beginner with some experience, or advanced user wanting to add a few more tricks to his trade. You can also access the Website for some free videos and articles.  However, for a lot more in-depth video instruction on Adobe products, including Photoshop CS4, visit Adobe TV at For more information, or to order the book, visit