I'm off to California for a few days to shoot a wedding. Since I don't have another photo within a photo to post, I thought I'd give you Photoshop enthusiasts a few suggestions for further reading. Some of my top picks from my own bookshelf are:
Matt Kloskowski's Layers: The Complete Guide to Photoshop's Most Powerful Feature.
Why I love it: It's the closest thing out there to the book I would want to write. I enjoy his writing style, and completely agree with his philosophy of teaching about the features he uses the most (as opposed to overwhelming you with all the things Photoshop can do). I wish this book had existed back when I was first learning Photoshop. It's perfect for beginners. But even though I consider myself an experienced Photoshop user, I recently bought the book knowing I would learn something new.
Pretty much anything written by Scott Kelby. I bought The Photoshop Book five years ago and loved it. There is now an updated edition for CS3 as well as one dedicated to Photoshop Elements (co-written with Kloskowski). Kelby knows how to stick to the most useful features and how to explain them clearly. Early on, I turned some of his techniques into actions and saved a lot of time. His recent 7-Point System for Adobe Photoshop CS3 would be great for a new photographer who wants to develop a good work flow. I am already happy with (entrenched in?) my work flow, so I haven't purchased the book, but five years ago I would have loved it. And if you own Lightroom (I use Aperture), he's got just the book for you.
Martin Evening's Adobe Photoshop CS3 for Photographers is a good reference/training guide if you've invested in Photoshop and really want to start digging in. I open it when I need to learn about a feature I don't normally use. If you're one of those sit-down-and-read-the-encyclopedia types, you could read it from cover to cover. That's what I thought I'd do when I bought the book, but apparently I don't have that kind of attention span. His writing doesn't have as much attitude as Kloskowski or Kelby, but for a comprehensive Photoshop book specifically for photographers he's still a must-own.
And finally, for the hard-core Photoshop fan, Katrin Eismann is simply amazing. Once you've read three or four Photoshop books, you start to see the same information over and over and you begin to crave something more advanced. Maybe the Martha Stewart fan in you isn't satisfied with just getting the job done. You want to know the exact perfect way to restore a photo no matter how excruciatingly difficult the process. If you're a glutton for punishment and you know it, if you're the type of person who stacks crepes between squares of parchment paper, who makes their own linen water with infused herbes de provence, and who monograms their child's paper lunch bags, then Restoration & Retouching and Masking & Compositing are your new best friends. But wait! What am I saying? I am recommending these books after all. The fact is, I have never made it all the way through Eismann's books because I am only sporadically that kind of person. Most of the time, I am far too disheveled and disorganized to indulge in perfectionism. But in those rare moments, reading these books is the photoshop equivalent to making a peach pie with a perfect pâte sucrée and home-made crème fraiche.