The Creative Digital Darkroom [Book Review]

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In this post Sime (our forum admin) reviews Creative Digital Darkroom by Katrin Eismann and Sean Duggan and gives it a 9 star rating.

The Creative Digital Darkroom by Katrin Eismann and Sean Duggan is a 400 page extravaganza filled with everything you could possibly want to know about the digital darkroom and the tools surrounding it. I’ve spent the last couple of weeks taking this book with me everywhere, reading a chapter here and a chapter there, making notes, and one thing I’ve learned is that I know hardly anything about my “digital workspace” by comparison to what this book teaches so very well…

Does anyone remember the smell of the darkroom? The Creative Digital Darkroom starts out just before you walked out of the darkroom and wandered into digital photography.

There is so much to take in with this book, it’s best to do it chapter at a time – I found. The book guides you step by step through pretty much everything you’ll need to know, from buying a computer to choosing a color profile. A very well written book with a lot of thought having obviously gone into making it easy to follow, The creative Digital Darkroom is a great book for intermediate to advanced photographers wishing to grasp the sometimes often scary concepts behind working with some of the powerful software packages available today.

The main software packages talked about in The Creative Digital Darkroom are Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, Camera Raw and Bridge as they are the software packages that the two writers use on a daily basis. In reading the book for this write up, I’ve learned about a million things that I wasn’t doing, or, didn’t know about and therefore didn’t use within my digital developing and editing process.

Make no mistake, this isn’t a “quick fix” book. This one goes way beyond that with very inticate tutorials on each and every aspect of all of the functions you might find within Photoshop or Lightroom, it shows you exactly how to use Camera RAW – which settings to use, why to use them and how they will benefit you, this book helps make informed decisions on all of your editing be it in Photoshop, Lightroom or indeed any other software package you might choose – the principles within the book are very easily adaptable.

The authors are not just handing you a list of “click this” instructions, they’re trying to teach you how to “listen” to an image, to make you think about what that image really means to you. You’re helped to see how, from a selection of images you can choose, or rather, how you are drawn to a certain one to become your final product.

From the moment you shoot a frame, save it onto your computer, open it with an application, edit it, store it, export it, print it, upload it to the web and then back it up, you’ll have a definitive list of things that you can learn from this book, The Creative Digital Darkroom. With many great illustrations and examples throughout, I found this a very good read and a real thought provoker.

The author Katrin Eismann, an internationally acclaimed artist, bestselling author, and gifted educator uses high-profile work, including her own, as examples for teaching photographers how to use the digital medium to create, edit, and output images that reflect her true vision. Co-authored by photographer and teacher Sean Duggan this book is a true wealth of information – if I can call it that.

It’s not the cheapest book on this subject that you’re going to come across, but it’s certainly true of this publication at least, you get what you pay for. You can get it now on Amazon on special for $31.49 (37% off).

Rating

I give it nine stars, easily.

Sime

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Sime

(aka #gtvone) is the customer support manager for dPS, and lead blogger in our Cameras and Gear Blog. He’s a Melbourne based photographer, www.gtvone.com and please feel free to follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

  • I’m reading this wonderful book (italian edition by Apogeo)and i can say it’s very useful!

  • I’ve had this book for a while and agree, it is great. And it certainly goes into detail.

    You’ve got loads of notes – mine has tons of post-it notes marking pages of interest!

  • DanM

    I saw this on bookpool but the release date and page count are diffrent. Same ISBN number though. It’s a bit cheaper on bookpool, does anyone see any reason not to order from them? http://www.bookpool.com/sm/0596100477

  • BRILLIANT POSTING! CONGRATULATIONS!!!

  • ha, I just did a post yesterday about my process and looking for tips. Perfect resource to investigate further. Thanks.

  • I wonder why this book would be any different from the various books I already own on Photoshop CS3, or videos that I can watch on lynda.com regarding photoshop.

  • i think this looks like an interesting book to read. where can i find it

  • Jeremy

    Hmm, that sounds fantastic. I think I see a future christmas present here. Also, the link to the amazon posting is broken

  • Thanks all for your comments…

    @Millard …Err, I don’t know? How about you send them ALL to me, and I’ll compare?

    @Jeremy Thanks for the heads up, I’ll fix it now.

  • Sime – Thanks for comment. Upon further investigation it appears to me, that a general Photoshop book doesn’t look at Photoshop strictly as a photographer would since graphic artist and web designer/developers use the program as well. Also, Photoshop users may not use Adobe Bridge, which I now consider essential. Thanks.

  • Millard, cool – yes, this book is SO much more than just a “Photoshop” book.. I’m not sure if that’s what you meant, but well…

    Sime

  • John

    Question: I use Elements 5. Will I find enough in this book to make it worth the purchase price?

  • John, There is SO much content that is not “brand application” specific. The book is a complete work flow guide, with more handy facts than you can poke a stick at, so to speak. I hope this helps.

    Sime

  • John

    Yes it helps. Just the slight nudge I need to add it to my Christmas list. : )

  • Glad to help 🙂

    Sime

  • Chris

    This really is a phenomenal book for anyone looking to construct a useful workflow. A TON of info, but well structured and easily digestible in smaller chunks. A full chapter and example images, are online, too, at http://www.creativedigitaldarkroom.com. I take this book with me everywhere.

    And, Eismann has sevaral vide tutorials on the various Adobe & Kelby training sites, so you can see how she teaches before you ever buy the brook.

  • Paul

    A far better book in my opinion. I own both. There is a CS3 and a CS4 version too. Martin is not only an Adobe alpha and beta tester, but a well respected and successful London-based fashion photog too.

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0240519841?ie=UTF8&tag=dpsgeneral-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0240519841

  • My rule of thumb is if O’Reilly Books has something on the topic you are looking for, it is probably one of the best-written book on the subject… If you just can’t wait while the book ships, there is a sample chapter online at oreilly.com (chapter 4):

    http://oreilly.com/catalog/9780596100476/chapter/index.html

    that you can read while you wait for the delivery guy…

    😀

    Richard

  • I agree Richard. O’Reilly sets the standard for anything to do with web-based digital subjects be it imaging or web development.

  • marcia

    hi, i’ve read a review that noted the book focuses more on photoshop in the post-process rather than lightroom… any comments on this?

  • DaveyMars

    Sime,
    I’ve been lurking for a long time and absolutely love your pieces–I’ve been learning a lot! (and this piece is also very helpful!) THANK YOU!!!

    Just a hint for you college students who use the SAFARI database of technical books…(contact your reference librarian for information!) if it’s published by O’Reilly, it is probably available through this service. I’m a member of the faculty at a med. sized midwestern University and 🙂 I can access most of their collection for free through this service. (The university pays for a license for it for our faculty and students!) It’s not the same as owning the book, but it’s a great way to really find out if this is a “must have” for you personally or if it doesn’t speak to you individually. I will try tomorrow to see if I can find it in the SAFARI database. Monthly subscriptions to SAFARI are avaialble to non-students or those attending institutions which don’t subscribe to it.

    I hope this helps!
    Feel the love, Sime! 🙂 Kudos!

  • Hey Marcia – You can rest assured in the fact that it wouldn’t matter if you used photoshop or paint shop pro or gimp or… etc etc – this book will be very helpful to you.

    DaveyMars – Very kind, thanks and thank you for the info on the Safari DB – it’s always great to be able to preview a book before shelling out hard earned cash.

    Cheers all – Sime

Some Older Comments

  • Sime December 14, 2008 01:14 am

    Hey Marcia - You can rest assured in the fact that it wouldn't matter if you used photoshop or paint shop pro or gimp or... etc etc - this book will be very helpful to you.

    DaveyMars - Very kind, thanks and thank you for the info on the Safari DB - it's always great to be able to preview a book before shelling out hard earned cash.

    Cheers all - Sime

  • DaveyMars December 8, 2008 12:00 pm

    Sime,
    I've been lurking for a long time and absolutely love your pieces--I've been learning a lot! (and this piece is also very helpful!) THANK YOU!!!

    Just a hint for you college students who use the SAFARI database of technical books...(contact your reference librarian for information!) if it's published by O'Reilly, it is probably available through this service. I'm a member of the faculty at a med. sized midwestern University and :) I can access most of their collection for free through this service. (The university pays for a license for it for our faculty and students!) It's not the same as owning the book, but it's a great way to really find out if this is a "must have" for you personally or if it doesn't speak to you individually. I will try tomorrow to see if I can find it in the SAFARI database. Monthly subscriptions to SAFARI are avaialble to non-students or those attending institutions which don't subscribe to it.

    I hope this helps!
    Feel the love, Sime! :) Kudos!

  • marcia December 7, 2008 05:20 am

    hi, i've read a review that noted the book focuses more on photoshop in the post-process rather than lightroom... any comments on this?

  • Millard December 6, 2008 11:56 pm

    I agree Richard. O'Reilly sets the standard for anything to do with web-based digital subjects be it imaging or web development.

  • Richard Murkland December 6, 2008 10:20 pm

    My rule of thumb is if O'Reilly Books has something on the topic you are looking for, it is probably one of the best-written book on the subject... If you just can't wait while the book ships, there is a sample chapter online at oreilly.com (chapter 4):

    http://oreilly.com/catalog/9780596100476/chapter/index.html

    that you can read while you wait for the delivery guy...

    :-D

    Richard

  • Paul December 5, 2008 08:54 am

    A far better book in my opinion. I own both. There is a CS3 and a CS4 version too. Martin is not only an Adobe alpha and beta tester, but a well respected and successful London-based fashion photog too.

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0240519841?ie=UTF8&tag=dpsgeneral-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0240519841

  • Chris December 5, 2008 02:21 am

    This really is a phenomenal book for anyone looking to construct a useful workflow. A TON of info, but well structured and easily digestible in smaller chunks. A full chapter and example images, are online, too, at www.creativedigitaldarkroom.com. I take this book with me everywhere.

    And, Eismann has sevaral vide tutorials on the various Adobe & Kelby training sites, so you can see how she teaches before you ever buy the brook.

  • Sime December 4, 2008 10:12 pm

    Glad to help :-)

    Sime

  • John December 4, 2008 10:11 pm

    Yes it helps. Just the slight nudge I need to add it to my Christmas list. : )

  • Sime December 4, 2008 09:29 pm

    John, There is SO much content that is not "brand application" specific. The book is a complete work flow guide, with more handy facts than you can poke a stick at, so to speak. I hope this helps.

    Sime

  • John December 4, 2008 09:22 pm

    Question: I use Elements 5. Will I find enough in this book to make it worth the purchase price?

  • Sime December 4, 2008 08:29 pm

    Millard, cool - yes, this book is SO much more than just a "Photoshop" book.. I'm not sure if that's what you meant, but well...

    Sime

  • Millard December 4, 2008 08:18 pm

    Sime - Thanks for comment. Upon further investigation it appears to me, that a general Photoshop book doesn't look at Photoshop strictly as a photographer would since graphic artist and web designer/developers use the program as well. Also, Photoshop users may not use Adobe Bridge, which I now consider essential. Thanks.

  • Sime December 4, 2008 04:34 pm

    Thanks all for your comments...

    @Millard ...Err, I don't know? How about you send them ALL to me, and I'll compare?

    @Jeremy Thanks for the heads up, I'll fix it now.

  • Jeremy December 4, 2008 03:42 pm

    Hmm, that sounds fantastic. I think I see a future christmas present here. Also, the link to the amazon posting is broken

  • hugogunnphotography.com December 4, 2008 11:48 am

    i think this looks like an interesting book to read. where can i find it

  • Millard December 4, 2008 09:48 am

    I wonder why this book would be any different from the various books I already own on Photoshop CS3, or videos that I can watch on lynda.com regarding photoshop.

  • Aimee Greeblemonkey December 4, 2008 06:18 am

    ha, I just did a post yesterday about my process and looking for tips. Perfect resource to investigate further. Thanks.

  • David Santos December 4, 2008 06:02 am

    BRILLIANT POSTING! CONGRATULATIONS!!!

  • DanM December 4, 2008 05:04 am

    I saw this on bookpool but the release date and page count are diffrent. Same ISBN number though. It's a bit cheaper on bookpool, does anyone see any reason not to order from them? http://www.bookpool.com/sm/0596100477

  • Nick P December 4, 2008 12:49 am

    I've had this book for a while and agree, it is great. And it certainly goes into detail.

    You've got loads of notes - mine has tons of post-it notes marking pages of interest!

  • Massimiliano December 4, 2008 12:12 am

    I'm reading this wonderful book (italian edition by Apogeo)and i can say it's very useful!

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