The Photoshop Darkroom 2: Creative Digital Transformations [NOOK Book]


Award-winning photography/design team Harold and Phyllis Davis are back with a brand new volume in their new Photoshop Darkroom series. Picking up where their best-selling first book left off, The Photoshop Darkroom 2: Advanced Digital Post-Processing will show you everything you need to know to take your digital imaging skills to the next level. Great photographers know that the best images begin well before the shutter clicks, and certainly well before Photoshop boots up. Harold takes a step back, and shares ...

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The Photoshop Darkroom 2: Creative Digital Transformations

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Award-winning photography/design team Harold and Phyllis Davis are back with a brand new volume in their new Photoshop Darkroom series. Picking up where their best-selling first book left off, The Photoshop Darkroom 2: Advanced Digital Post-Processing will show you everything you need to know to take your digital imaging skills to the next level. Great photographers know that the best images begin well before the shutter clicks, and certainly well before Photoshop boots up. Harold takes a step back, and shares his helpful tips for capturing the most compelling images possible by keeping in mind what type of post-processing you'll do before you start shooting. You'll also find complete coverage of important topics such as compositing, working with layers, and HDR. Packed with tons of eye-popping images which have won Harold national acclaim, this is a fantastic resource for photographers who want to think outside the box and create truly stunning artwork.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Written by a photographer and designer team, this excellent release deals with such matters in easy-to-follow steps and thorough detail, covering topics such as lighting and compositional post-work and HDR processing, all accompanied with stunning example imagery. This is an extremely thorough overview for anyone who's relatively new to the whole postproduction process."—Computer Arts Magazine

"The book covers effects and techniques compatible with any version of Photoshop, although one technique deals with Content Aware Fill, found in Photoshop CS5. An astute user could potentially achieve the same effects in older versions of Photoshop, by modifying the outlined steps. Experimentation is always a journey unto itself: you may discover some new way of achieving the results desired, or even uncover something new and totally different."—Horizons Erie User Group Newsletter

"The goal of the book is to inspire you with techniques to try. The emphasis in this title is on creative transformations. This involves a wide range of image creation challenges from cleaning up an image to creating entirely new fantastic digital images. With this book you will learn how to take advantage of the possibilities available in RAW image files; use Adobe Lightroom to multi-RAW process your photo; correct flaws and improve the tonality of your images; improve and enhance portraits and glamour shots; extend the dynamic range of your photos; create high dynamic range images by hand, and much more."—

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781136088216
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 3/20/2013
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 208
  • File size: 40 MB
  • Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

Meet the Author

Harold Davis is an award-winning professional photographer. He is the best-selling author of more than 30 books, including The Photoshop Darkroom 2: Creative Digital Transformations (Focal Press), Creative Porraits: Digital Photography Tips & Techniques (Wiley), Creative Black & White: Digital Photography Tips & Techniques (Wiley), Creative Composition: Digital Photography Tips & Techniques (Wiley), Creative Night: Digital Photography Tips & Techniques (Wiley), Creative Close-Ups: Digital Photography Tips & Techniques (Wiley), The Photoshop Darkroom: Creative Digital Post-Processing (Focal Press) and Practical Artistry: Light & Exposure for Digital Photographers (O'Reilly). Harold writes the popular Photoblog 2.0,, and is a regular photography and Photoshop columnist for, a photography site with more than one million members.

Harold is a popular presenter on a wide range of digital photography and Photoshop topics. His workshops are sought after and often sold out.

In addition to writing and photography, Harold has been a software engineer, an enterprise technology consultant, and an Internet company executive. Photographic adventures and assignments have taken him across the Brooks Range, the northernmost mountains in Alaska. He has photographed the World Trade Towers, hanging out of a small plane, followed in the footsteps of Seneca Ray Stoddard, a 19th-century photographer of the Adirondacks, and created human interest photo stories about the residents of Love Canal, an environmental disaster area.

Harold is well known for his night photography and experimental ultra-long exposure techniques, use of vibrant, saturated colors in landscape compositions, and beautiful creative floral imagery. He is inspired by the flowers in his garden, hiking in the wilderness, and the work of great artists and photographers including M.C. Escher, Monet, van Gogh, and Edward Weston.

Phyllis Davis is a graphic designer and writer. Her design credits include many books, posters, advertisements, and Internet projects. Phyllis is the author of more than twenty books on topics that range from elementary algebra to image editing software such as The Gimp and Photoshop. As a writer, she is well known for her ability to break complex topics down into easy to follow, simple steps.

Phyllis has a deep interest in education. She believes in working "smarter, not harder,” and that learning happens most when it is fun. She has followed her interest in unconventional educational strategies as a writer, trainer, and course developer.

Phyllis was trained as a classical bassoonist. She is a winner of the Prix de Paris, and holds both a MM degree from Manhattan School of Music and a Diplôme Supériuer d'Exécution from the Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris.

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Read an Excerpt

The Photoshop Darkroom 2

Creative Digital Transformations
By Harold Davis Phyllis Davis

Focal Press

Copyright © 2011 Harold Davis and Phyllis Davis
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-240-81532-9

Chapter One

Everything you always wanted to know about Digital Asset Management (DAM)*

Workflow roadmap

Workflow refers to the entire process of creating a digital photograph from the moment the shutter is pressed to the final use for your image. It also includes the very important topic of how you store and preserve your images.

If you think that archiving and backing up photo files is a big pain—well, maybe you're right. But don't do it and you'll live to regret it! A digital photo is not a tangible object. It only exists as long as the computer file that holds its data is safe and can be accessed.

Also, you need to be able to find a gosh, darn %&#@ image file when you need it!

Anyone who works seriously with digital photographs will tell you that when it comes to workflow and Digital Asset Management (DAM), planning and organizing in advance helps.

Approaching DAM as a global task that needs to encompass all your digital assets and activities helps to lessen the problems and headaches you will encounter.

References used in this book

Many of the topics shown in this workflow roadmap are covered in this book, or in the first Photoshop Darkroom book. When there is a cross-reference, it's listed with the abbreviation for the book and the page number.

PD1: 15-17 means The Photoshop Darkroom: Creative Digital Post-Processing (Focal Press: 2010), pages 15-17.

PD2: 123-125 means The Photoshop Darkroom 2: Creative Digital Transformations (Focal Press: 2011), pages 123-125.

The RAW advantage

A RAW file has potential

If there's one single point that I want people who take one of my workshops to understand about digital photography and the Photoshop darkroom, it is the RAW advantage.

When you capture a digital photograph as a RAW file, you are saving all the data that was available to the sensor. This is in contrast to other kinds of digital captures, such as a JPEG capture made by lower-end cameras. With a JPEG capture, a great deal of data is simply thrown away.

Your RAW capture is just a file by itself. It can't be printed or displayed as part of a website. You need to process the image before you can do almost anything with it.

Think of it this way: a RAW file is simply potential information that you can use to create your image from. The really, really, really exciting thing is that you can process the same photograph—the same RAW file—more than once.

Then, when you combine the different processed versions, you can use the best bits from each. This leads to extraordinary image making power. Using RAW lets you take advantage of the power of digital.


Within a single RAW file is a huge range of exposure values and color temperatures.

It's much easier to correct problematic exposure and color temperature issues in the RAW conversion process than downstream once you've already finished converting the image.

The only advantages that the JPEG file format has over RAW is that it is compressed, and fast to work with.

If the JPEG is good, you can just send it off to a client without further work.

On the other hand, it's like film. What you see is what you get—and you only have one opportunity to get it right. You don't have the chance to tease elusive values out of the file the way you can with RAW.

There's no virtue to shooting JPEG—and having to get it right in the camera—as opposed to RAW. It all comes down to common sense: what's the most expedient way to get the image you want.

How your camera thinks about RAW

Most camera manufacturers have their own proprietary type of RAW file. In other words, there's no such thing as a standardized RAW file. For example, Nikon's RAW file format produces images in the NEF file format and Cannon's RAW files are encoded as CRW and CR2 files. As justification for saving data in proprietary formats, the camera manufacturers say that they uniquely understand the characteristics of their own sensors and therefore know how to encode the RAW data better.

The DNG file format

DNG files are an effort at creating a universal RAW format. In my opinion, there's less than meets the eye in this effort because part of the DNG format specifically reserves "hidden" areas for each manufactures' proprietary secret sauce.

None-the-less, there are some reasons to consider archiving RAW files in the DNG format (as Lightroom will do automatically for you)—and it's far better than not archiving at all. For more about the importance of archiving your image files, turn to pages 10-11.

Shooting RAW and JPEG at the same time

Most cameras that shoot RAW will let you shoot JPEG and RAW simultaneously. This possibly gives you the advantage of both worlds. If the JPEG file is good enough, you're all done and can send it off to a client. But having the RAW file gives you the opportunity to make corrections in the conversion process if you need to.

Harold sez

I always want to keep my original files. So converting to DNG is fine, but I still want to archive my NEF files. This means that if I use DNG, I have two sets of original files to archive (NEF and DNG). Twice as much storage space on my computer. Why bother? I don't think Nikon or Canon are going out of business any time soon (an often heard pro-DNG argument is that it is likely to be around longer than any camera manufacturer).

In which Ed's feet make an appearance

What's a photographer to do?

I was stuck at the top of a stairwell in a decaying tenement in Havana, Cuba. Now, this tenement was also an art deco beauty and once upon a time she had been fine.

This stairwell was calling out to be photographed. I knew I was not likely to be back in this location any time soon. So I pulled out all the stops: tripod, fisheye lens, and a programmable timer for a long exposure in the dim light. I even found an old toilet tank to climb on for a better point of view.

Looking at the results in the computer a few weeks later and a few thousand miles away, the best shot was flawed. Not only were my tripod legs visible, but worse, Ed's feet were in the photo.

That's a peril of shooting with a fisheye lens in low-light conditions.

¡Hola Ed!

Next Steps: What to do about the exposure, Ed's feet, and my tripod legs

Confronted with a challenge like this Cuban stairwell, it's important to be careful about the order in which one proceeds. (For more about workflow, see page 10.)

The first thing to do is to get the post-processed exposure right. This means using one of several techniques to get lights, darks, and color right in the image. There are a number of good ways to go about this starting with a RAW image. Multi-RAW processing using Adobe Camera RAW (ACR) is perhaps the best-known and is explained in detail in PD1 starting on page 30.

This example uses an alternative process with different virtual copies in Lightro0m to adjust exposure and then exports the virtual copies into Photoshop as a layered document (pages 16-18).

After getting this part of the process right, then and only then, can we begin to deal with the issue of Ed's feet (not to mention my tripod legs). Cloning out Ed's feet is shown starting on page 32.

Multi-RAW processing using Lightroom

Pre-visualizing and making a plan

It is important anytime you are processing a RAW file to have a strategy. In order to have a strategy, you need to pre-visualize where you want the photo to end up. The purpose of the strategy is to plan how you get from the default RAW conversion of the image to where you want it to go.

The strategy for this image is to start with a dark background and layer successively lighter versions on top using masks for specific areas. This is one of the most common RAW conversion strategies.

Other typical strategies are to start with a version that is too light and place darker layers on top, or start with an average rendition of the RAW capture and layer light and dark areas on top.

Which strategy you choose depends upon the image and how you previsualize the outcome. To find out more about creating a RAW conversion strategy plan, take a look at PD1, page 40.

Harold sez

I'm an individualist and I love Photoshop! If you had a painter out there who did one great painting a week, you would say this is a really prolific painter.

People expect more volume from digital photographers and digital image makers. It's not reasonable! I should be really happy if I create one great image a week. I'm not a volume operation. I'm after quality, not quantity. Therefore, using Photoshop by itself without Lightroom makes more sense to me for the bulk of my workflow (when a client needs me to batch a large number of similar images for a specific project, I do use Lightroom).

Lightroom is a great program and I really understand why many photographers like to base their workflow around it.

Multi-RAW processing: Lightroom or ACR?

This process using Lightroom could have been done with Adobe Camera RAW (ACR) and multi-RAW processing. For more about this see PD1, pages 30-62. The choice is yours, and the underlying processing engine is the same.

You get to the same place. Either way—Lightroom or ACR—you are opening multiple versions at different exposures of the same image and combining them as layers in Photoshop.

Some folks prefer Lightroom, some folks like ACR. If you are using Lightroom as the engine for your digital workflow to keep track of your images, then it really makes sense to use Lightroom for this kind of conversion. If you don't already use Lightroom, then ACR may be the better choice.

Bringing a Flower to Life

I shot this beautiful Asiatic Ranunculus with the flower in a bud vase wrapped with a black velvet cloth.

Previously, I mentioned the importance of pre-visualizing how you want your image to come out and having a post-processing strategy (page 16). With this flower, I knew that I wanted it to appear like a jewel on a completely black background and that I would need a good post-processing strategy to create my desired effect.

Since I wanted the background of the image to be a deep black, my post-processing strategy was to start with a very dark version for the background where the velvet was very black and the flower was barely visible (bottom). This version became the "Dark" layer at the bottom of the layer stack in the Layers palette.

Next, I processed an overall version that was the primary basis for how the flower was rendered in the final image (middle). I added it to the Layer palette above the "Dark" layer as the "Overall" layer. Then, I added a Hide All layer mask to the "Overall" layer and "painted" in the flower, leaving the black velvet background from the "Dark" layer intact.

Some areas in the center of the flower still needed more punch. So I prepared a light version (top) and added it to the top of the layer stack in the Layers palette as the "Highlights" layer. Finally, I added a Hide All layer mask to this layer and selectively "painted" in a few brighter areas, mainly on the edges of the petals.

Any single version from the RAW file would not have captured my vision of this gorgeous flower. But combining the three versions from the same RAW file, creates the jewel-like image I saw in my mind's eye when I composed the photo in my viewfinder

Layers and masking in Photoshop

Understanding layer masks

A layer mask is used to control which parts of a layer are visible in the final image. When you apply a layer mask to a layer, black areas in the mask hide the layer, white areas reveal the layer, and anything in between black and white—gray—is partially revealed. You can easily remember this using the rhyme "black conceals and white reveals."

When you add a Hide All layer mask to a layer, the layer mask starts out completely filled with black, making the layer completely invisible. When you add a Reveal All layer mask, the mask is filled with white, making the entire layer visible.

Which kind of layer mask you choose to work with depends on the situation, how you like to work, and your overall strategy for dealing with the image.

There is a huge range of tools you can use in Photoshop to alter a layer mask. The two I use most often are the Brush and Gradient Tools.


Excerpted from The Photoshop Darkroom 2 by Harold Davis Phyllis Davis Copyright © 2011 by Harold Davis and Phyllis Davis. Excerpted by permission of Focal Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Introduction; A Ballet with Reality; Case Studies; Incremental Transformations; Case Studies; Brave New Digital Worlds; Case Studies; Glossary; Index

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  • Posted June 13, 2011

    Wonderful Lessons in Creativity

    This review is for The Photoshop Darkroom: Creative Digital Transformations. We've all heard the saying "Those who can do, those who can't, teach". Harold Davis is that rare exception to this. Not only can he "Do", but he can also teach. Mr. Davis is an exceptional photographer and image maker, and he also possesses the gift of being able to communicate that ability to others. The book itself breaks down into three main parts. The first is the techniques involved in removing the flaws from our photos. Taking a photo from mediocre to exceptional. The next part goes a bit deeper. Mr. Davis demonstrates how we can improve and bring out those characteristics of our images that are normally unseen. It is these techniques which can move an image from ordinary to extraordinary. The final part of the book deals with compositing multiple images into one new image. You may think that you are not interested in knowing how to composite, however, the techniques used for this are the same skills you can use to greatly improve your photographs. Also, this book can be used by those of us who do not own the full version of Photoshop. I do most of my work in Lightroom 3.3, the current version as I write this. For pixel level editing I use Photoshop Elements Version 7, along with Elements Plus version 2. I found only two areas that my setup would not handle. The Patch tool is not included in Elements, and Elements does not have the LAB color space. If your photo processing program includes layers and masking, you will get a lot of help from this book. Personally, I like the way Mr. Davis writes. He uses a very conversational approach which resonates with me. I find that there is little overlap between his books and, like this one, each passes on not only very usable techniques, but also wonderful lessons in creativity. This book works for me, and I believe you'll find it works for you as well.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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