The Book Designs
Of all the factors these books can be compared by, design and layout are probably the ones in which they differ the most.
Sheppard’s book is designed adequately but misses some opportunities to present the information clearly. In particular, the photographs are linked to the text with figure numbers (“…rate all of them with one star if I don’t like them (shown in figure 5-11).”) but the photos themselves have no caption or overlay to point out what’s important. I also complained about this in my review of Sheppard’s Camera Raw book, as well as Tim Grey’s Lightroom Workflow book. I believe it’s very important for training books to leverage their photography and illustrations as much as possible, but many times the text and photos are linked only by figure numbers. Moreover, I think Sheppard’s book has quite a bit of text to slog through and readers could benefit from a few more pullouts (the “Pro Tips” placed throughout the book are helpful, and the highlight of my readâ€”more of the same would be helpful). Even a few lists would break up the monotony. One thing about Sheppard’s book that I like are the Q&A pages at the end of each chapterâ€”it’s a good recap of the chapter and an opportunity for Sheppard to answer likely questions. Dan Margulis also uses a Q&A at the end of his chapters in Professional Photoshop.
Kelby’s book is clearly designed and with impressive photography. Sometimes I felt like the photography was on center stage, because the shots take up two-thirds of every page and there’s all kinds of subject material: people, landscapes, cars, flowers, and the bridal photos that take up all of chapter 10. By the way, Kelby’s book is the only one that has a step-by-step process for a wedding portrait workflow, so if you are getting into that field then this is the book for you. Anyway, as with Sheppard’s book, sometimes it’s hard to see in the photos what the text is referring to. Most of the images in the book show the full Lightroom interface, which can actually make it tough to see what’s going on with the controls and sliders since they only take up a fraction of the interface (and thus, a fraction of the image in the book). Sometimes the book gets it right and shows a detail of the interface, and even a circle around the pertinent control the text is explaining, which is great. As for the text, the layout and typography is clean (books from KW Media Group usually use the same typography and styles) and there are some tips to be found, but usually on the bottom of the text columns and don’t draw attention.
Evening’s book has the best design of the three: good photos, exceptional information design, and plenty of helpful notes, tips and sidebar photos. This is the way a Lightroom book should be laid out. Evening’s book is the only one of the three with a sidebar on every page, and it’s put to very good use with all kinds of notes, tips and small images explaining the small details of Lightroom that often get missed. The information design is excellent: key commands are illustrated with actual keys (imagine the Command key as the cloverleaf in a box, not as “Cmd”) and many images of the Lightroom interface have word balloon overlays to point out things like the zoom view slider or all the Quick Develop settings. Sometimes there are quite a few balloons on top of the image, but care is taken not to cover up anything important. The typography in this book is great, with good use of bold text that make it easy to find important things like figure numbers. I think this book also has the best use of white space: while Sheppard’s book has most white space at the bottom of pages (and Kelby’s book has a little bit stuck between steps), Evening’s book has the sidebar for white space (if nothing’s in it, which is usually not the case) and healthy margins around images and the text. I should also point out that this book has a good deal of photographs not shot by the author, including photos by such notables as George Jardine (Adobe’s pro photo evangelist), Greg Gorman and Jeff Schewe, who many will know as a popular Photoshop World instructor.
Unexpected Updates: Responding to Lightroom 1.1
Shortly after these books were out on the market, Adobe updated Lightroom to version 1.1. Unlike other decimal updates, Lightroom 1.1 has over 100 differences from 1.0 that deserved coverage. As far as I know, Rob Sheppard has not written a 1.1 update to his book but Martin Evening and Scott Kelby have:
Scott Kelby’s 1.1 update is a 28-page comparison of 1.0 and 1.1, pointing out various 1.1 improvements. It’s laid out a little differently than the original book, but it’s solid, well-designed (I particularly like the “Cool Tips” that stand out in boxes) and is great help to anyone.
Martin Evening’s 1.1 update, to put it succintly, is phenomenalâ€”it’s a book in itself! The PDF is 178 pages long, and numbered as if it’s part of the original book so the final page tally is an unbelievable 515 pages. The design is exactly the same and the information is as thorough as can be. Even little interface tweaks are covered. I’ve never seen such thorough continuing coverage like this after the book is published, and it’s one more reason The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Book is my choice as the best Lightroom book out there.
Trying To Separate The Three
All of these books are great for Lightroom users, and if you have a wad of cash I would recommend all three for various reasons:
- Sheppard’s book has some great insights for the pro photographer, and you can tell he is first and foremost concerned for the photographer’s experience.
- Kelby’s book is probably the most mainstream of the three, and serious amateurs who are still learning will benefit a lot from his step-by-step processes and real-world situations.
- Evening’s book has advanced information not available in the other two, and the insights in Lightroom’s creation and the nuts and bolts behind it are alone worth the price of admission. It’s an exceptionally well-designed book as well.
The writing is good in all three as well, though they each have their own style and it may not be to your taste (Scott Kelby’s witty style, for example, drives me a little batty sometimes). I think what separates these three books is in the design, and Evening’s book is the best of the three.
The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Book: The Complete Guide for Photographers
Published by Adobe Press
The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Book for Digital Photographers
Published by New Riders
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom For Digital Photographers Only
Published by Wiley