Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Adobe Photoshop Elements 10 remains the best-selling digital imaging software in its class—it also remains the most powerful. The latest version is more of a tweak than a total refresh, with some new capabilities to strengthen its editing and sharing powers. Standout new features include object search, Facebook Friend list import, and the ability to brush effects onto particular areas of an image. There are also some new guided edits to show you how to create advanced effects. Despite some remaining usability issues, mostly resulting from the separation of organizing and editing programs, Photoshop Elements remains the consumer photo editing software to beat.

It's designed around Adobe Photoshop, and in its Full Edit mode it has many similarities with Photoshop and the same techniques can often be used in both programs. Some of Photoshop's more advanced features have been taken away in Elements, though, and a range of novice-friendly quick fix tools and effects have been added, with Quick and Guided Edit modes designed for less experienced users.

Adobe photoshop elements
In Full Edit mode, Elements has much in common with Photoshop, but there are also Quick and Guided Edit modes.
Elements is also designed more as a complete end-to-end tool for all your photographic activities. It comes with an Organizer which you can use to catalog your whole photo collection, offers simple image enhancement tools and can be used to launch a whole series of 'creations' like photo books, greetings cards and more.

Adobe photoshop elements
The Elements Organizer is an application in its own right, managing, sorting and searching your photo collection.
You can get Photoshop Elements on its own, but it's also available as a bundle with Adobe Premiere Elements, Adobe's amateur-orientated video editing program. This has the same relationship to Adobe Premiere as Elements does to Photoshop. The Organizer works with both programs, which is why you'll see references to video, even if you just go for the Elements-only version.

New features for Elements 10

Elements 10 comes with a list of enhancements to both the Organizer and the Elements editor itself. The Organizer gets some interesting new visual search tools which use clever image-analysis techniques. Not everyone has the time or patience to apply keywords to their photos, so this offers an alternative way of finding matching images where the software does the work, not you.
There are enhancements for social networkers, too. You can now use your Facebook friends list to tag photos, and it's possible to upload videos straight to YouTube. It's never been that hard to do using YouTube's own upload tools, but you might find it useful to be able to do it from within the Organizer.
Improvements to the Elements editor include 30 new Smart Brush effects and patterns which you can paint straight on to your photos. There are three new Guided Edit effects, too, for those who want to enhance their pictures and learn at the same time.
New overlays for the Crop tool help you compose your photos more effectively according to the Rule of Thirds and the Golden Mean, and it's now possible to add text to a path (curved line), the outline of a shape or a selection. This won't hold much interest if you use Elements mainly for photography, but it enables you to add more interesting text effects to greetings cards, calendars and other photo creations.

The Organizer is an important part of the Elements package. This is not an ordinary file browsing tool like Adobe Bridge, for example, or Google's Picasa. It's an image database which brings all your photos together into a single catalog, where you can add keyword tags, organise them into albums, carry out searchs and 'stack' photos together, whether they're similar pictures you took at the same time, or edited versions of the same photo.
Stacks prevent related photos from becoming separated, and they also simplify your catalog, so that you don't see whole screens full of similar-looking photos - instead, they're all stacked under a single thumbnail.

Adobe photoshop elements
Stacking photos keeps related images together, like these three shots of a derelict boat, and they can be collapsed to a single thumbnail.
Organizer combines regular cataloguing tools like keywords and albums with new search technologies which use sophisticated image analysis techniques to find photos.
It uses face-recognition technology, for example, to not only identify faces in photos but to distinguish one individual from another. You can use this to tag your friends and family so that they appear in the People section of the Keyword Tags panel.
It also has a Visual Similarity Search tool where you select a photo you want to match and the Organizer then attempts to find similar-looking images to the one you've selected. It does this using a combination of shape and colour, and if the results don't quite match up, you can shift the balance between these two properties using a simple slider to try to improve the match.

Adobe photoshop elements
Visual Similarly searches can work well, though the percentage match ratings seem quite arbitrary and you can get some odd 'matches' thrown in.
This is new in the Mac version of Elements 10 and enhanced in the Windows version. And it's joined by a new, more specific Object Search tool. Here, you choose an image containing the object you want to search for, then define it more precisely with a rectangular marquee. Organizer will then find images which it thinks contain the same object.
The Visual Search tool isn't too bad. It does seem to match colours and shapes reasonably well. You might still end up with large numbers of completely dissimilar photos mixed in with the good ones, but there is clearly some intelligence at work.
The new Object Search is less convincing. It helps if the object you use as the basis for the search is as clearly defined as possible, and ideally set against a neutral, contrasting background. If so, you've a fair chance of finding photos of the same object. The Organizer ranks these with the best matches at the top, indicated by a percentage value. As you scroll down through the search results, the percentages - and the relevance - drop off very quickly indeed.

Adobe photoshop elements
Adobe photoshop elements
The new Object Search verges on the random. We searched for boats and Organizer came back with everything but the kitchen sink.
Maybe it's still a very new technology that's going to improve in the future? It the meantime, though, it seems more like a smart-sounding gimmick that really doesn't work very well.
The Duplicate Search is both more effective and probably more useful. It groups together images which it thinks are the same or similar so that you can stack them together. It's very good at finding matches, and while it does often throw in some bizarrely irrelevant images too, you can sidetrack those and just stack the ones which match.
The new visual search tools might not be very reliable, but its existing cataloguing and search options are very good, so the Organizer is still a great tool for managing an ever-growing photo library.
But what about Elements itself? How does that stack up against Photoshop, and are the new features in Elements 10 worth upgrading for?
Like the Organizer, Elements is rather good. It's certainly better than either its price or its market position would suggest. As far as photography is concerned, there's not much you can do in Photoshop that you can't do in Elements. There are exceptions (see the blow-by-blow comparison below) but, essentially, Photoshop and Elements are interchangeable. Most published Photoshop techniques can also be carried out in Elements, sometimes with modest workarounds, but often without any modification at all.
But Elements isn't just aimed at enthusiasts and experts. It operates not just in one mode but three. Quick mode offers a very simple set of sliders consisting of an Auto Smart Fix or separate Lighting, Color, Balance (white balance) and Sharpness adjustments. You can crop photos too, make them black and white and fix red-eye. It's all pretty basic, and there's a clear crossover here with the Photo Fix options in the Organizer, which could be confusing, but it's ideal if you're just starting out with image-editing tools.

Adobe photoshop elements
The Quick Mode's simple adjustments are ideal for those who are new to image-editing, and there are similar tools in the Organizer.
The Guided Edit mode is more interesting. Here, Elements shows you how to apply a range of more advanced effects using a step-by-step approach that also introduces key Photoshop tools in an active context that shows what they do far more effectively than manuals or videos. And Elements 10 introduces a further three Guided effects, including a diffuse glow 'Orton' effect, a Picture Stack montage effect and a Depth of Field effect designed to de-focus backgrounds to make your subjects stand out.
The Orton effect adds a flattering and atmospheric glow to portraits which is quite pleasing, and if you want to see how it's done, you can take a look in Full edit mode at the layers the effect has created.

Adobe photoshop elements

To be Continued in Part II

Artzz Luv

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