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by R. Scott Ireland, 2nd Edition, softbound, 8.5 by 11 inches, 320 pages, includes DVD with full resolution images used in this book's tutorials.
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About this Book . . .
I remember my first one-day class on how to use Photoshop in 1997. During the long drive home I was excited by the possibilities of what I had seen a Photoshop Master accomplish. However, as I began work on my own images I had great difficulty implementing what I had “learned.” Even though I had diligently scribbled notes during the entire class, when faced with the power and complexity of the program, I hardly knew where to begin. Photoshop was speaking a language, indeed it was a language — one that I had not yet learned.

Over the years that followed I gradually learned Photoshop's language. In hindsight, what I really needed was a primer that outlined, step by step, exactly how to optimize my images and why I needed to do it in a particular way — a book that cut no corners or assumed that, as a beginner, I did not need to understand the big picture, complex techniques or why things worked.

I have written Photoshop Astronomy to do just that. It is packed with tutorial examples that are specific to astronomical imaging. Each Photoshop step is explained in great detail. A beginner will see results immediately. But make no mistake; this is not a “Photoshop for Dummies.” I have not avoided complex material or procedures. Quite to the contrary, I have included difficult, extended image-processing tasks along with the simpler ones. Once you see how even the difficult procedures are worked with my step-by-step examples, their “difficulty” vanishes.

There are many things within this guide that even seasoned digital imagers will find challenging and useful. I have also included explanations of how and why things work. “Do this” and “Do that” are not sufficient. It is my firm belief that to speak the language of image processing you must understand the meaning of its “words” and their syntax. I have seen this method work during the many seminars I have conducted for amateur astronomers across the United States.

For a sample of this book's text and contents see:
      Table of Contents
      Sample of Text

From the Sky and Telescope Review . . .

It would take many months or even years to find and memorize all the information provided in the one-stop source.

AMONG THE MYRIAD computer programs used by astrophotographers, none is as popular or versatile as Adobe Photoshop. However, to take full advantage of the program's capabilities requires vast amounts of time. If a shortcut exists for mastering the tools and techniques needed to properly massage an astrophoto, R. Scott Ireland's new book Photoshop Astronomy is it.

Ireland, a Photoshop user since the mid-1990s, developed his book to help others understand and speak the Photoshop language. Everything you'll need to produce top-quality images is covered in intricate detail, from monitor calibration to complex layering and mosaicking techniques. Even better, the book includes a DVD with the image files used as examples throughout the book. Readers can walk through each step exactly as it is described.

Photoshop Astronomy starts with the tools you'll need for your digital darkroom, including choices for computer platforms, RAM considerations, hard drives, optical drives, video cards, USB hubs, and other peripheral devices. Ireland spends a great deal of time discussing computer monitors and specifically stresses the importance of color-calibration systems. "the best monitor in the world," he writes, "won't do you much good if it is not calibrated." Printers, scanners, and file formats are also discussed at length.

The chapters are arranged by image-processing themes and are ordered roughly by complexity. Chapter two contains exercises designed to familiarize readers with color space, color management, color profiles, and bit-depth. Chapter three deals exclusively with understanding an image histogram and how to interpret changes incurred to the tonal range when you are applying the Levels command. Next, the Curves function –quite possibly the most powerful tool in all of Photoshop–is explained.

After covering these basics, Ireland recommends that the reader skip to points of particular interest, though each chapter still builds upon the previous one and introduces new concepts. For example, many astrophotographers dedicate their observing time to one category of imaging, such as deep sky, lunar and planetary, or comets. A reader might assume that the sections on planetary imaging would be of little use to deep-sky astrophotographers. But I find that the techniques I use for planetary images can be just as useful for deep-sky photographs.

While I didn't always agree with Ireland's approach to various image-processing tasks, the reasoning for his decisions was always sound. Moreover, it should be noted that in cases where Photoshop cannot adequately perform a task, the author had no qualms about recommending other programs that can do the job.

Overall, it's hard to complain about anything in Photoshop Astronomy. Everything the author sets out to tackle is covered well, especially when the reader uses the images provided on the DVD to methodically follow each step. Ireland also freely admits (as does any good teacher) that he is still learning new tricks every day. Photoshop is such a powerful, evolving program that users always seems to be discovering new useful techniques that can further enhance their images.

While virtually all of Ireland's tips can be found or discovered on your own, it would take many months or even years to find and memorize all the information Ireland provides in this one-stop source. That makes Photoshop Astronomy worth its weight in gold ... or terabytes.

SEAN WALKER
Assistant editor, Sky and Telescope magazine

 

About the Author . . .
R. Scott Ireland

Scott Ireland has lived in South Florida since the age of six. His educational background includes a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in music performance, and a Master of Business Administration Degree in finance. Scott has also passed the Uniform Certified Public Accountants examination, and he holds a ranking of Candidate Master in correspondence Chess from the U.S. Chess Federation.

As an avocation, Scott has pursued lifelong interests in Astronomy, nature photography and Chess. He is a past President and honorary life member of the Southern Cross Astronomical Society. Scott is a member of the Puckett Supernova Search Team, and was a co-discoverer of Supernovae 2003fd and 2004gw. He is also a member of IAVCEI (International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth’s Interior) and Volcano Watch International.

Scott’s photographs have been published internationally in many books, textbooks and periodicals, and have appeared in various museum and gallery exhibits. His publication credits include Nature’s Best Magazine, Nature Photographer Magazine, the National Audubon Society Field Guide to Florida, the Peterson Field Guide to the Stars and Planets, Odyssey Magazine, Sky & Telescope Magazine, Introduction to Observing and Photographing the Solar System and Mercury Magazine.

Scott’s images of the Soufriere Hills Volcano on Montserrat were selected by University College, London for use in their volcano hazard mitigation literature being distributed to governments and volcanologists throughout the Caribbean. His images of the Mount St. Helens eruptions of October 2004 have been published and archived for scientific use by the Smithsonian’s Global Volcanism Program. Scott was a member of the National Geographic team sent to Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica to film the documentary entitled Volcano Hunters.

Two of Scott’s images were among the winners of the prestigious annual Nature’s Best Magazine international photo competition, and will be exhibited at the Smithsonian in late 2005.

About the Cover Photo . . .

The bright star in the upper middle of this photograph is S Mon. It is surrounded by dark dust and glowing gas. The area below and slightly to the right of S Mon is called the Fox Fur Nebula because of its color and texture. Tony Hallas took this photograph using a 14.5” f/8 RCOS Classical Cassegrain and an SBIG STL-11000 CCD camera mounted on an Astro Physics 1200 GTO mount. The exposure was 180 minutes through AstroDon H-a and RGB filters (LRGB 120:60:60:60). Copyright 2005 by Tony and Daphne Hallas.

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