The Best Seven Dollars (Canadian) I Ever Spent

The Best Seven Dollars (Canadian) I Ever Spent

I found Michael Freeman’s book on sale in a bookstore in Halifax, Canada for just seven dollars. I’d just bought my first digital SLR and had realised that I needed to know more about Photoshop. For instance, what exactly is a histogram and what does it tell me? What is channel mixing? What’s a channel? A quick flick through the book showed that all this information, and more, was inside.

The book is aimed at the digital black and white photographer who wants to master his craft. It assumes at least a basic knowledge of Photoshop and photography techniques. That’s not to say a beginner wouldn’t find this book useful, but a newcomer to either photography or Photoshop would be better off buying a good book for beginners and using this one to master more advanced techniques and concepts.

So, what does the book cover? Here’s a sample of topics covered in “Chapter 2: Color Into Greyscale”:

  • Basic color conversion
  • Using channels
  • Practical channel mixing
  • Using an adjustment layer
  • Layer masks

I considered myself fairly proficient with Photoshop, having used it for years, but this book has elevated my knowledge and technique to a new level. The information is very simply presented and easy to find and follow. It didn’t take me long to start following the step by step examples that Michael Freeman provides and practice new techniques for converting my color digital photos to black and white. I’d never imagined there were so techniques to choose from and that I had so much control over the tones in my photos!

The author also addresses the art of black and white digital photography as well as the technical side. He talks about visualization, the history and development of black and white photography, the visual language of monochrome, and defining mood and approaches for different types of subject. Case studies are presented and supported by the author’s photos.

The book then goes further and discusses in great depth more advanced Photoshop techniques. Michael gives advice on such things as maximizing the tonal range of the photo, preserving highlight and shadow detail, the zone system, adjusting tonal distribution, noise control and even high dynamic range images.

In the final chapters the digital versions of traditional darkroom techniques such as toning, duotones, posterization and hand-coloring are discussed. Michael then goes on to give advice on printing, printer calibration, ink and paper and mounting and displaying prints.

It’s clear throughout the book that Michael Freeman is an expert with in-depth knowledge and experience of the techniques that he discusses. The book has become an invaluable reference tool for me and has raised my knowledge of digital black and white Photoshop techniques to a new and exciting level. I now understand my digital camera much better and am beginning to realize the potential of Photoshop in creating beautiful quality digital black and white prints.

I’m afraid you’re unlikely to find this book for sale for just seven dollars (Canadian), but whatever it costs in your local bookstore (or online), it’s well worth it.