yeah. . . i know. . . i could easily search the forums and find everything i need and all that (i know when i used to frequent the leica forum, that was the first thing it seemed everyone had to say to any "newbie" questions). . . just pretend i'm too dumb to know that, or just take for granted that i'm lazy. anyway. . . . a brief background so you can know where i'm coming from when i ask this question: i've been shooting film (primarily black and white) for years (since high school), and i've only just decided to get some decent digital gear. i dumped the M6 and i think i'm going to try to hold out and get a full frame canon (or maybe a 30D). . . i worked in a little ritz camera for a bit and know just a touch about the processes that go into color film processing. . . . anyway, when it comes down to a lot of things in photoshop CS, i can understand the general concept behind what i'm doing, but i don't know exactly what the tools are doing. . . what real world effects they're mimicking, etc (honestly, i'm using a. . . "borrowed" copy until i can afford to go legit -- or my concscience gets the best of me). like. . . the healing brush. i know what it does when i use it, but i don't know what the hardness of the brush means. . . or what the finer controls do. i understand changing the contrast/brightness/saturation/hue. . . . that's pretty general. . . when it comes to curves. . . nope. . . not a real clue regarding what it's doing (i know what it seems to do visually, but. . . is it working from film concepts where certain types of film respond to light in different ways?). hell. . . now that i think of it. . . i only just learned how to use layers the other day (i was printing the file that i opened as a sort of print that i was manipulating in a literal digital darkroom -- contrast, brightness, levels, touching it up, etc. . . all on one layer. i'm not too clever. if you can recommend a book that doesn't get too cutesy and basically serves as a general manual with maybe a bit of how-to in it. . . it'd be much appreciated. whatever it was that helped you might help me too. . . . yeah. . . i'll cut it short(er). help me please!