No matter what type of photography you shoot or what level of photographer you are, there is always a gem of wisdom or two found in books written by any of the “Photoshop Guys.” Whether it is Scott Kelby discussing his retouching techniques, Matt Kloskowski breaking down his compositions, or Corey Barker showing off the latest and greatest Photoshop tricks, you can always walk away with something new you learned.
These “gems” are more than clear in RC Concepcion’s first book, “The HDR Book.” With a simple title like that, you know exactly what you are going to get: High Dynamic Range (HDR) and all the post-processing intricacies that go along with it. I recently purchased and read this book in less than three days; it’s a quick read, but there’s a reason for that. Like most Kelby Training books, this one will sit on my shelf and be used as more of a reference guide when I can’t remember how to do “that one thing that RC did that one time.”
I love the approach that RC took when putting this book together. Rather than focus on the basics of HDR like shooting, using a tripod, setting your exposures, and using a remote to fire the camera, he discusses the basics in a couple of pages then breezes right into the post-processing which is where the true magic of HDR images come to life.
Once inside the post-processing section, RC really blew me away again. Not only did he show off real images and walk you through his process for creating them, but he actually gives you the images themselves to work along with as you read. He breaks down every button, setting, and slider that he used to create the effect he did and even lets you know about the third-party plug-ins he uses to create some of the “glows” indicative of an RC Concepcion image.
Before you start thinking to yourself, “I bet RC only talks about Photoshop HDR Pro since he is a Photoshop Guy,” think again! He tells it like it is and lets you know that HDR Pro is his least-favorite of the HDR processing engines, but he does show how he would process the images in the main three engines: HDR Pro, Photomatix, and Nik Software’s HDR Efex Pro!
With that being said, I would have liked to see more of included a better guide to shooting the HDR images ie. what tips and tricks are used to lessen ghosting and halos. I also felt that the removal of halos wasn’t addressed as thoroughly as it could have been. As one of the real obstacles to HDR post-processing, knowing how to properly mask and use tools like Refine Edge and gradient masking might have been helpful.
As a HDR shooter myself, I really enjoyed this book overall. The writing was very well done and could be understood by any level of reader or shooter. The images are beautiful and the “tutorials” are laid out step-by-step so anyone can follow along. RC Concepcion has really done the Kelby Training name proud by creating a book worthy of being on this photographer’s shelf.
Disclaimer: I have no ties to the author other than just loving his work and following his tweets. The opinion above is my own from a photographer who read a book he wanted to talk about and share with all of you.
P.S. A special thanks to RC Concepcion for letting me “borrow” the image of his book from the Kelby Training website.