The Creative Digital Darkroom
Publisher: O'Reilly Media
Final Release Date: December 2007
Pages: 432

This tutorial takes photographers beyond the quick tips and gimmicky effects of many digital photography books. Author Katrin Eismann -- an internationally acclaimed artist, bestselling author, and gifted educator -- offers 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 their true vision.

Co-authored by photographer and teacher Sean Duggan, The Creative Digital Darkroom translates skills, concepts, and nomenclature of the traditional darkroom into digital solutions for photographers who sense that, despite the newness of the technologies at hand, there remains a timeless method for learning and practicing photography the right way. This is not a Photoshop book per se, but it does focus on the photographic aspects of Photoshop, something other books claim to do but rarely have the discipline to accomplish. The Creative Digital Darkroom includes:

  • Four sections that cover the black & white darkroom, the color darkroom, creative techniques, and production essentials
  • Chapters that begin with a thorough foundation followed by numerous tutorial examples that apply the theory to real-world examples
  • Examples and a layout that enables readers to find, understand, and apply the featured techniques quickly and easily
  • The authors are both renowned photographers and Photoshop experts
Clearly, The Creative Digital Darkroom is not your typical digital photography "how to" book. It's ideal for intermediate and advanced photographers, artists, and educators looking for clear, concise, insightful, and inspiring information and techniques on how to make their photographs shine. The language, and techniques will immediately appeal to serious students and professionals, and the original tutorial images and high-profile work will make the book an important visual resource for educators and art appreciators.
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For the photographer & the visual artist

By irisonthego

from Tucson, AZ

About Me Designer, Developer, Educator

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Comments about oreilly The Creative Digital Darkroom:

This book is written for the photographer, the visual artist, or anyone aspiring to become such. In the first paragraph of the preface the authors state "As visual artists, photographers are constantly practicing looking and seeing images. They make photographs, even when they don't have a camera with them. The eye is the lens and the mind is the camera." The digital darkroom tools that the authors reference in the book are Adobe Photoshop CS3 and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. They further state that the concepts and techniques presented are really applicable for use in most image editing and RAW processing applications. The companion web site, [@], provides additional information, as well as the images for use while following along with the exercises in the book and a bonus chapter in PDFformat covering the subject of creating high quality prints.Today many books on the subjects of image editing and RAW processing are mainly step-by-step cookbooks, with an emphasis on following a recipe to create a specific result. While this book does have plenty of exercises to step you through, the focus is really to hone your sense of creativity, refine your artist's eye, and build a deep understanding of how the digital darkroom tools work. The first of 10 chapters is brief, only 15 pages, and addresses training yourself to "see" images and learn digital darkroom basics for both detail work on individual images and batch processing for large numbers of files. From here you begin to lay the groundwork for image processing with considerations for building a digital darkroom environment and understanding color settings and management. Next, in the chapter titled Scan, Develop, and Organize, are details on various methods and considerations for acquiring and managing images. And now the magic begins, as do the in-depth explanations of the processes used to create those magical results.Chapter 5, Tone and Contrast, caught my attention as my photo-taking abilities require a lot of darkroom work especially on those two subjects. I also like to add drama, or some would say melodrama, to areas of my image. The 'deep learning' contained in these pages provided me with a lot of much needed information. Working with curves and the Photoshop curves dialog has always been a matter of applying a known formula and not knowing where to go from there, but usually another tool. The section titled Understanding Curves begins on page 140 and continues through page 145. This tool provides the greatest control over manipulating tonal values in an image. How to select a tone in an image and then locate it on the curve grid and then create a control point, enabling a tonal adjustment, is thoroughly explained. Then there are steps, explanations and examples for applying a basic S-curve and reverse S-curve for increasing or decreasing contrast. The concept of lockdown points was new to me. It is a method of placing points at grid intersections, fixing parts of the curve in place so they are not affected as you adjust other areas of the curve. After this introduction to the power of curves for use in tonal control of an image, I read on to see that the tool plays a prominent role elsewhere in the chapters when working with color. I was able to use the info gleaned from these pages for improving a portrait cropped from a family picture. Using the approach of applying a mask and subtle curves adjustments, I was able to reduce the ruddy complexion in the photo to a more natural state for this individual. The Short Take:The ten chapters of this book contain a lot of technical expertise, sometimes more information than I could absorb in just one sitting. The subjects discussed cover a wider range than I could detail here. I'll mention just a sampling of subjects: color management, techniques for acquiring images, improving image quality, and applying creative enhancements. I found this book to be a great resource filled with tips and cautions, suggestions for training the eye to see in terms of composition, step-by-step instructions for trying out digital darkroom techniques, and bits of personal wisdom from the authors. I'm sure it will prove a valuable resource to keep handy by my computer when transforming a digital photo or my imagination into a digital creation.


An authorative account : how to set up and maintain your digital darkroom

By Greg Davies

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly The Creative Digital Darkroom:

Katrin Eismann and Sean Duggan set out in 'The Creative Digital Darkroom' to share some of the creative concepts and techniques they use when working in the digital darkroom. It's " ... more than just a book of Photoshop recipes and quick tips ... [it's about] How to look at the image and 'listen' to it; how changes to the delicate matrix of light and shadow tones can transform the mood and meaning of a photo; how to sculpt with light and contrast; and how to imagine colour and tonal changes that will best express your vision for the photograph."

Katrin is an internationally respected artist, teacher and writer specialising in creative digital photography. Sean is an art photographer, educator and Adobe Certified Photoshop Expert.

They hope the book will serve as a good travel companion as the reader explores their photography in their own creative digital darkroom.

The book was written for Adobe Photoshop CS3 and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, whether on a Windows or Mac platform. The authors contend that the book's general principles can also be applied by those who prefer using other software.

Comprised of ten chapters, the book proceeds on its way along a sensible and well-organised path. A brief introductory chapter summarises the tools, terms and techniques in digital darkroom work and overviews the workflow from image capture to print, reflecting the structure of the book.

Chapter Two covers in much helpful detail the requirements of setting up a workable digital darkroom. Hardware, peripherals and software, system calibration and a range of Photoshop preferences and settings are described. It includes a very clear exposition on the bane of digital darkroom users' lives - colour management.

Now that the darkroom is set up, the following eight chapters work their way sequentially through scanning, developing, and organising; file preparation; tone and contrast; dodging, burning, and exposure control; colour correction; creative colour; creative enhancements and, finally, enhancing focus.

Each of those areas is dealt with authoratively and with finesse.

There are several things I liked about the book. It's a remarkably thorough and well organised guide. Graphics and photographs are used sufficiently to illustrate the authors' points. It has good ample use of dialogue box screenshots which are concisely annotated where appropriate. Comparative and before/after images are used effectively to highlight the effects of applying different creative ideas.

There's a handy summary at the beginning of each chapter to introduce the reader to what follows. A comprehensive index is included.

Finally, there's a companion website offering additional information plus download access to many of the book's images to help achieve a richer learning experience. It's at

Reviewed by Greg Davies for The Apple Users' Society of Melbourne (AUSOM), Australia.


More than teaching <i>Photoshop</i>, this book is an education in how to see.

By Donna Kamper

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly The Creative Digital Darkroom:

This is not a "how to use Photoshop" book. This is a book for photographers who use Photoshop and want to produce excellent photographs. Beginning at the moment an image is acquired, whether by shutter or scanner, the reader is walked through the entire workflow process. Not only the steps and details of what and how, but the often-missing "why" is also provided. Now it makes sense!

Both Katrin Eismann and Sean Dugan, authors of this book, have traditional film photographic backgrounds. It is our good fortune that they turned to digital photography and created this book. Artists in their own right, they are also talented educators with the oft-elusive ability to explain complex subjects simply and understandably.

Relevant images can be downloaded from the book's website to use when working through the examples. It's very helpful using the same image the author shows in a lesson _ for one thing, if your results differ you know it's not the image.

When I worked through the lessons I didn't always see a change until I Zoomed in _ wa-a-ay in (200%-500%). Once I knew what I was looking for, I could then Zoom back out incrementally and the difference was more apparent.

This book is more than an education in Photoshop; it's an education in what to look at and how to see.

Chapter 1 introduces the five steps of the "Digital Darkroom Workflow." These are Part 1: Acquire; Part 2: File Preparation; Part 3: Global Enhancement; Part 4. Selective Enhancement; and Part 5: Output. The rest of the book breaks down the first four parts into easy-to-understand chunks with lots of detail.

Chapter 2 reviews the requisite digital darkroom components. These include the working environment, the hardware, and the software. How to properly set up the Preferences in Photoshop is covered in depth, as are assigning profiles and choosing color settings.

Chapter 3 starts with image acquisition and quickly moves into file organization. This includes how to properly set up and use Bridge and Lightroom. Each image adjustment palette in the Adobe Camera Raw interface is shown, with instructions on how to use each one. The pros and cons of file formats such as DNG and RAW and the virtues of high bit-depth images are discussed in enough depth to actually be understandable.

In Chapter 4 we (finally) open Photoshop and begin working with images, but don't get too excited. This is the file preparation step. The authors compare this part of the process with the need to stretch and prime canvas before actually painting a picture. Tedious, perhaps, but not to be skipped over or skimped on because it directly affects the final image's quality. The work done here comes under "general clean-up:" noise reduction, input sharpening, lens and perspective correction. Not to be skipped over!

Global and Selective enhancements are the next steps. These take us from Chapters 5 through 8. Here the image, both as a whole and its component features, is evaluated and adjusted for tone, contrast, and color. The array of techniques and features available to work in this area can be mind-boggling. Working through them with the authors brings order to the process and makes sense of what to use and when _ or even if. The authors not only stress that rules are made to be broken, but that a critical skill is knowing when to stop.

Once the original pixels of an image have been changed, there may be no going back. Throughout the book, techniques for doing as much editing in as non-destructive a manner as possible are emphasized frequently. Non-destructive editing gives you the freedom to experiment and know your decision isn't irrevocable. Multiple lessons teach you how to achieve this using Layers, Masks, Adjustment Layers and Smart Objects/Smart Filters.

This really gets exciting when you finish working on a lesson and the little light goes on: you suddenly realize how to apply the technique you just learned to your own images! Two hours later when you come up for air, that technique is yours forever. Next!

"Creative Enhancement" is the subject of Chapters 9 and 10. The authors use these chapters to explore ways in which you can change the image beyond its original message. Techniques include how to create special lighting effects, distress an image, add texture such as film grain or paper texture, or creatively enhance edges.

The final step, Output, is not addressed in this book. However, the authors have a 20-page bonus chapter "The Print" that's available on the book's website. This is a rich resource that covers resizing, final output sharpening, working with profiles, soft-proofing, printing from Photoshop and working with a service provider. This is as well written as the rest of the book, and the information is invaluable.

This is a must-have for my bookshelf. Working through these lessons not only teaches what a certain feature or tool does, but gives insights on other ways to use them that carries over to new images. That's the real value of a book like this. Highly recommended!


To my opinion, probably the best book on Adobe CS3

By Andre Cajolais

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly The Creative Digital Darkroom:

To my opinion, probably the best book on Adobe CS3

Katrin Eismann and Sean Duggan are experienced photographers and their style is clear and effective in the Creative Digital Darkroom.

The book is dedicated to intermediate and advanced photographers who are all ready familiar with the basics of image processing.

The Creative Digital Darkroom is essentially aimed at the techniques to help the photographer achieve his own vision, a theme developed by the authors.

It's the best book I've seen yet on Photoshop.

The Creative Digital Darkroom is a detailed course on Photoshop CS3 that could also be of interest no matter which image processing software you are using.

The authors explain accurately the step by step instructions on the different tools and techniques of Photoshop. There are also plenty of interesting tutorials that cover all the aspects of image manipulation. You will also be invited to download most of the images used as example in the book from the book's website.

You will then be able to practice the tips and techniques described by the authors. You will also find interesting chapters on Adobe Camera Raw and Adobe Lightroom.

I learned a lot from this book and keep it at hand while processing my images.


The Creative Digital Darkroom

By Kari Sheppard

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly The Creative Digital Darkroom:

I attended part of the PPA (Professional Photographers of America) convention in January. I ran into a friend who was excited about being able to attend a class by Katrin Eismann and asked if I was also going.

I had never heard of Katrin, but my friend's

excitement piqued my curiosity. When I saw the

book "The Creative Digital Darkroom" was co-written by Katrin Eismann I decided to check it out.

The idea of a darkroom is familiar to "old school" photographers. It is how we worked. The film was shot and then we took it to the darkroom. I did not have my own darkroom, but had access to one in school. I was always fascinated by the process of working in the darkroom, but by the end of the day, was tired of the chemical smell.

So, what is a "digital darkroom"? It is the way we translate what was done in a traditional darkroom with film, chemical and light to what is done with a digital camera (or scans), computer and printer.

As I started reading this book I was struck with the comparison of working in a darkroom. It does not require that you are familiar with a darkroom setting, but it does give a history or basis for what you are doing.

I really like the way the book is set up to walk you through the steps of setting up your digital darkroom and carrying through all your digital processing of your images.

Each chapter has several samples and easy to follow instructions. These are written for Photoshop but generally translate to Photoshop Elements or other digital editing programs. Sample files from the lessons are not included with the book, but there is a website set up where you can download the images as you are ready to work with them. Unless you want to download them all at one time, but at 246 Meg, I would suggest that you have a high speed connection if you are going to do this.

Also included at the website is a bonus chapter on printing. As I see it, the final step in your creative process is to have the print that you can hang on a wall or share with friends.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning more and improving their photos. Not only does it help with your post processing, but I think that there are many tips that will actually help in seeing and taking better photos.

The Creative Digital Darkroom

by Katrin Eismann & Sean Duggan

List price: $49.99

ISBN-10: 0-596-10047-7

ISBN-13: 978-0-596-10047-6

book review by Kari Sheppard

Bay Area Macintosh User Group of West Central Florida

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