Adobe Photoshop Lightroom has been enthusiastically adopted by the Photoshop industryâ€”Photoshop World already has an entire track of sessions devoted to the softwareâ€”and there’s plenty of websites like LightroomKillerTips.com to give users all they need to know. There’s plenty of books out there about Lightroom as well, and I’ve had the privilege of reading three of them to review. It’s been a few months since I received these, but they are still hot books on the market and great review material.
The books are:
- The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Book: The Complete Guide for Photographers by Martin Evening
- The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Book for Digital Photographers by Scott Kelby
- Adobe Photoshop Lightroom for Digital Photographers Only by Rob Sheppard
High Marks All Around
Generally I found all three to be great booksâ€”well-written, thorough and knowledgeable. All three authors are highly regarded in the industry, especially Scott Kelby who is practically a celebrityâ€”most Photoshop users have read at least one book of his. Rob Sheppard is Editor of Outdoor Photographer magazine and I’ve reviewed a book of his before (Adobe Camera Raw for Digital Photographers Only) and thought it was excellent. Martin Evening is a highly-regarded photographer based in London but not as well-known as a Photoshop author (though he is publishing more and more). I found Rob Sheppard’s writing style to stand out among the three because he tends to be more opinionated: he is writing to digital photographers and has no problem telling us what he thinks is best for us. This isn’t a bad thing, but it is different than the other twoâ€”Kelby writes in his usual easy-to-read style with a good helping of zany asides, and Evening is clean and clear all the way through. You won’t go wrong with any of these books.
Content: Same Difference?
I find it redundant that all three book titles specify they are for photographersâ€”one would think Lightroom users would be photographers, though theoretically Lightroom could be used for digital asset management beyond photography (think Adobe Bridge). However, each of these books approaches the subject a little differently:
Sheppard’s book covers a mix of basic photography and Lightroom, covered from start to finish. Lightroom is practically unique among other creative professional applications because one works with it in a linear fashion: photos are imported, then organized, then developed and then presented either by print, online or on screen. Tim Grey’s Lightroom Workflow book covered Lightroom in the same linear fashion, and so does Sheppard. However, Sheppard is unique among the other authors because he prefaces his Lightroom coverage with over 50 pages of overview about RAW, who should use Lightroom (and who shouldn’t), the craft of photography, digital camera sensors and “working the subject” to get the best photos. Most of these topics are about digital photography in general, not Lightroom in particular. For that reason, I recommend this book for novice photographers who could use a reinforcement of basic photography principles.
Evening’s book thoroughly covers Lightroom, start to finish, and also offers an intriguing look at Lightroom “behind the scenes” during its development. Of all the books, this one gives me the most insight about Lightroom’s creation, such as its original codename (“Shadowland”) and the name of its RGB color space (“bastardized RGB” [Mark Hamburg] or “Melissa RGB” [Melissa Gaul], though neither of these are official!). Evening was involved with Lightroom as an early alpha tester and knows and worked with all the people important to Lightroom’s creation (he was especially close to Bruce Fraser and thought enough of him to dedicate this book to him). Many of these little tidbits from Lightroom’s genesis are available in this book, and it’s the kind of stuff I love to read. Not only that, but this book is exceptionally thorough in its coverage of Lightroom’s features and probably will give readers the most complete understanding of Lightroom itself. You’ll learn obscure facts like the relationship between Lightroom, printer drivers and operating systems, and RGB tone curve response. I recommend this book for power users who love creative software in general, revere those who help create such great products and want to know all they can about Lightroom.
Kelby’s book tackles real-world problems with Lightroom, also in a linear way. Like the other two books, the first part of the book is about importing, the next is about the Library module, the next is about Quick Develop, and so onâ€”the same linear progression we see in the other two books. Process is obviously paramount to the digital photographer, and you’ll get no argument from me. What sets Kelby’s book apart from the others is that it teaches almost entirely by step-by-step instructions: it doesn’t just say how to view photos with Lightroom, but tells you to go to the Folders panel, explains what you see when you do that, then tells you to try the auto-hide panels and explains some more, and so on. The other two books only use step-by-step instructions occasionally. Kelby uses the step-by-step technique all the time in Photoshop User magazine and his other books, and it obviously works well because he’s probably the most successful Photoshop author today. It lends itself very well to this book because, if Lightroom is all about a linear process, then it makes a lot of sense to describe it with linear procedures. I recommend this book for those who like to learn with real-world situations (like bridal shoots and photo prints) and clear step-by-step directions.