Review: Adobe Press Learn By Video, Photoshop CS5

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By Betsy Finn, Cr.Photog., CPP

I am a fan of learning how to use software to its fullest extent.  By learning shortcuts and efficiency tricks, you can speed up your workflow and reduce the time you spend in front of a computer.

With that goal in mind, I decided to see what I could learn by watching the Adobe Photoshop CS5 Learn By Video DVD offered by Adobe Press. The video is the only approved video courseware for those individuals looking to become an Adobe Certified Associate, and packs in 21 hours of visual training. It is packaged with a printed book that contains supplemental information such as the DVD table of contents, what’s new in CS5, keyboard shortcuts, a glossary and more.

The DVD contents greet you with an easy-to-understand interface:

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The welcome page of the DVD is divided into three sections. On the left is an overview of the DVD contents. You can choose to play all videos, or navigate to specific sections and watch videos based on your learning needs. The center area introduces you to your instructors (Kelly McCathran, Scott Citron and Ted LoCascio), while the right sidebar informs you that the DVD also comes equipped with extra content:

• Tutorials to Go: videos formatted for viewing on your mobile device. If you’re using an iPhone, you’ll want to copy the .mov files to your device; if you’re an Android user, copy the .3gp files to your device.
• Assets: various files are provided in case you want to work alongside the instructors using the same images they are using. This can be helpful if you are someone who learns by doing.

In case you ever need to pause in the middle of a training video clip, or just want to mark your place for next time you resume training, Adobe Press has included a neat Bookmark feature. It allows you to save your spot, and even make a notation (i.e. date watching, or important retouching tip).

The final learning aids you’ll find on the DVD are end-of-chapter tests (for retention purposes). If you want to make sure you’ve got everything in a particular chapter down pat, then make sure to test your knowledge before moving on to the next chapter.

 

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Overall, I found that this DVD helpful, as it described some of the new features in Photoshop CS5. While much of the content reviewed things I already knew how to do, I can see how this training video would be a godsend for anyone who didn’t already have a thorough understanding of Photoshop. Interestingly enough, I did learn a lot of new shortcuts, which I plan implement in my daily workflow to save time.

The chapters I found most helpful personally were chapters one and seven. Chapter one is about getting started with CS5; it reviews the interface, navigation techniques (most helpful if you are upgrading from a few versions back).

 

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A screenshot of the “Getting Started” video training in progress.

Chapter seven featured a good basic overview of how to retouch in Photoshop. I learned something about unsharp mask and smart sharpen, tools I’d previously used intuitively and without real understanding of what each control slider did. The other chapters were mostly review for me, but I imagine that they would be quite helpful if you don’t already know how to use Photoshop efficiently.

Learn Adobe Photoshop CS5 by Video retails for $59.99, and is available from AdobePress.com (with free shipping!). 

Betsy Finn, Cr.Photog., CPP, has a portrait studio in Dexter, Michigan (BPhotoArt.com); she shares tips and ideas for photographers at LearnWithBetsy.com.

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