Tuesday 3 April 2012

The new 'Orton' effect in Elements 6 works in Guided Edit mode and adds a subtle blur which can enhance portrait shots like this one.
The Picture Stack effect takes a single picture and splits it up to make it look as if it's been assembled out of a series of smaller snaps. You might use it a couple of times, but it really has novelty value only.
The Depth of Field effect works in two modes. You can create a crude but effective result using a radial gradient tool, or use the Quick Selection tool to define your main subject more precisely. The results aren't bad, but both the subject and your own technique have to be right.
The Quick Selection tool turns up again in another guise as Elements' Smart Brush tool. This adds special effects to specific areas of your pictures, the selection and the effect both being created 'live' as you paint. And this is where another set of improvements can be seen in Elements 10. There are 30 new effects and patterns, including Snow, Pencil Sketch and Oil Pastel effects.

Adobe photoshop elements
The Smart Brush tool's been used to apply an 'Old Paper' texture to the background of this picture. Elements 10 has 30 new effects and textures.
The disadvantage of this tool is the same as the Quick Selection tool - it only really works with objects that have clear, sharp edges. For softer-edged subjects and more subtle blending of image effects, you'll need to use Photoshop manually in Full edit mode and do some work blurring and editing the layer mask.
The Crop tool's new compositional overlays are a minor enhancement rather than any kind of breakthrough. The Rule of Thirds is a compositional aid designed to help you produced more satisfying off-centre compositions. The Golden Mean is a more esoteric artistic concept that's trickier to grasp and apply to photographic subjects. They could be useful for students of photography learning to apply some basic theory, but composition is a little too complicated for rules like these to be effective all the time.

Adobe photoshop elements
The new Rule of Thirds overlay in Elements 10 can help you crop your photos more creatively, though the Golden Mean overlay is a little too technical.
There are improvements to the photo creations, with new artwork and templates. You can create photo books, greetings cards and calendars, and share your photos via Facebook, Flickr or Adobe's own Photoshop Showcase site.
You can launch these either from the Organizer or from Elements itself, which offers flexibility in one sense, but also illustrates one of the program's weaknesses - it offers a few too many ways of doing the same things, which can cause as much confusion as over-technical processes. Should you create an online album from the Organizer or Elements? Is there a difference? Should you use the Photo Fix tools in the Organizer, or the Quick mode in Elements? Why have both?

Adobe photoshop elements
So what does Photoshop have that Elements doesn't?
Adobe Bridge: The Elements Organizer is more sophisticated, acting as an image database rather than just a file browser, but Bridge can display 'virtual' adjustments made with Adobe Camera Raw, and a wider range of metadata (copyright, keywords and much more).
Vector tools: Photoshop has path and pen tools comparable to those in a dedicated drawing/illustration package. Elements can do basic shapes but it's not in the same league.
Colour modes: Photoshop supports CMYK and Lab modes, which can be useful in commercial print publishing and some image enhancement tasks.
Curves: Elements has an Adjust Color Curves dialog, but it's a weak imitation of the curves adjustments in Photoshop. Curves are important for precise contrast adjustments.
Channels: In Photoshop you can manipulate individual colour channels and create new channels for saving selections and creating certain effects. It's something more advanced users might need.
Masks: From version 9, Elements supports layer masks, a key took in many image-editing techniques. Photoshop also supports editable 'vector' masks made with the Pen or Shape tools.
Actions: These are sequences of commands you can record and play back with a single mouseclick, and they can save a lot of time. You can't record Actions in Elements.
Enhanced RAW tools: Both Elements and Photoshop come with Adobe Camera Raw, but the Photoshop has many more image-editing tools and options.
Automated lens corrections: Photoshop Elements offers basic manual correction for lens defects, but Photoshop adds automatic lens correction based on profiles developed specifically for the lens in use.
Layer styles: Layer styles can be used to add a wide range of effects. Those in Elements are limited in their scope, but Photoshop's are much more powerful.

Happily, Elements 10 sports three new Text tools which you can use to make text follow a selection, built-in shape, or a custom path that you draw. Text on a Shape is super-easy to use: just choose a shape from the shapes pull-down menu, draw the shape, then hover your cursor over the shape. Your cursor changes to an insertion point, and you just click to add text that follows the outline of the shape. When you click off the Shape layer, the shape is hidden and your text remains editable. You can resize and rotate the shape, and add effects to text, but unfortunately you can't flip the text to run inside the shape.

Elements’ new suite of Text tools let you create text that follows the curve of a selection, a built-in shape or a path you draw by hand.
Elements’ new suite of Text tools let you create text that follows the curve of a selection, a built-in shape or a path you draw by hand.
Text on a Selection is useful for wrapping text around an object in your photo. Amazingly, it creates the path for you. Text on a Custom Path is useful for those with steady hands or a graphics tablet. This tool places text on a path you create with the Pen tool. Fortunately, you draw the path freehand and then use the Options bar to refine it. It also gives you control points you can click and drag around, plus you can grab and drag the segments between the the control points (the adjustments to the control handles work automatically).
One of the most practical new features in the Elements 10 Editor is a Crop tool grid overlay. It uses the Rule of Thirds to help you create natural focus points and photo dimensions that appeal to the human brain. Other enhancements include a slide show enhancement wherein the new Smart Pan & Zoom feature lets you mark areas on your images to zoom into or out of, and to mark the areas you want to pan across, as well as starting and stopping points.

Another new and useful Guided Edit is Picture Stack, which splits a single photo into 4-12 snapshots. You can fine-tune border width and background, and if you enter Full Edit mode, you can alter frame size and positioning.
Another new and useful Guided Edit is Picture Stack, which splits a single photo into between 4 and 12 snapshots. You can fine-tune border width and background, and if you enter Full Edit mode, you can alter frame size and positioning.

Elements Organizer

The Elements Organizer is barely a year old on the Mac and it’s sporting some serious new horsepower in the search realm. The most practical and important new feature in the Elements 10 Organizer may be intelligent Duplicate Detection.
Rather than finding only identical photos, this feature also finds photos that are similar. If you've applied filters or effects to photos, it’ll round them up along with the original. Maybe you've taken several quick shots of the same subject—it finds those, too. Once it finds similar or duplicate photos, it sorts and groups them according to how similar they are. From there, select one photo and click "remove from catalog" with the option to delete it from your hard drive. If you don't want to delete photos that are almost identical, you can stack them, which collapses them into a single image in the Organizer so that you can find or work with them together later on. For people who shoot in burst mode or are scared to delete photos, this is a great solution to being lost in a sea of similar photos.
The Organizer also has a near magical Visual Search. Let's say you're looking for sunset photos: find just one sunset photo and drag and drop its thumbnail to the top of Organizer. Elements displays photos according to their similarity to the original photo. It uses both color and shape, and you can use a slider to tell it whether to focus on one or the other. You can even drag multiple shots into the search field, and Elements will analyze simliarities among them to find other similar shots.
The Organizer's new Object Search feature extends the program’s Facial Recognition feature to identify other kinds of objects in your photos. To use it, trigger the Object Search from the Search pulldown menu at the top left of the Organzer and then click a photo. Elements places a white box atop the photo, which you can then use to draw a box around the object you want to find. The best matches appear at the top, and it works quite well on well-defined objects with decent contrast.

Using the Organizer’s new Object Search, you can quickly round up similar items. Pick a photo to start and fine-tune the resulting white box to define the object. It works on your entire photo collection or a single album.
Using the Organizer’s new Object Search, you can quickly round up similar items. Pick a photo to start and fine-tune the resulting white box to define the object. It works on your entire photo collection or a single album.

Speaking of faces, integration with Facebook is greatly enhanced. The new Facebook Face-tagging feature accesses your Facebook Friends list to link names to faces in your photos as you type. Then, when you upload your photos to Facebook, they're already tagged! This technique works better than iPhoto's method, which needs the same address in Address Book that the person used to sign up with on Facebook. Unfortunately, to tell Elements to get your list of Friends, you have to click a microscopic text-only link at the bottom of its window (an actual Facebook icon would be welcome). YouTube Sharing, a feature previously available only in Premiere Elements, also lets you upload a video to YouTube. Helpfully, it asks you for information such as title, description, category, and privacy settings for your video. Rounding out the Organizer enhancements is automatic syncing between multiple devices using Photoshop Elements 10 via Photoshop.com. That service offers 2GB of storage space for free, and you can upgrade to 20GB via the Elements Plus option, for $50 per year.

Blinging Photos
Photoshop Elements offers more photo enhancements than any competing product at its level, and its Guided Edits make these easy to learn and apply. Not only can you apply layers of effects, and filters, but there's also a generous selection of content like backgrounds, frames, and shapes to gussy up a photograph. The Text tool has been beefed up in version 10, too, now with the ability to wrap text around a shape outline, so that it doesn't overlap important parts of an image and just creates a nifty effect.
Three new Guided Edits let you create an Orton effect (sort of overblown lighting, popular from Instagram), depth of field (aka "bokeh"), and a picture stack effect. Though I'm usually after the most accurate rendering of the subject I shot, these effects actually added a lot of interest to some of my test images. Also new are Smart Brushes, which let you paint effects and adjustments onto specific areas of a photo, including B&W, color, lighting, special effects, and artistic treatments like pencil drawing.

Sharing and Output

Photoshop offers the most output options of any consumer photo editor—whether you're into creating slideshows, sending picture emails, printing, burning discs, uploading to Web galleries, or even sending images to a Ceiva digital photo frame. You can hook up your email account to Adobe Photo Mail by simply entering your own email address and enter a code sent there into the Share panel, after which you can directly send photos from within Photoshop Elements using your own email address. You can directly upload to your favorite online photo sites, including Flickr, Facebook, SmugMug, or Adobe's own Photoshop.com galleries.
Online backup is a good thing for your precious photo memories, and Adobe Photoshop Elements makes this easy and integrated if you spring for the Plus edition. This offers 20GB of online storage that works with mobile viewer apps, along with more how-tos and extras like online album templates and 20 print artwork sets. I did however notice that it dragged my Internet connection to a crawl when first uploading image files for backup, however, and using the backup service means you'll have another process running and tray icon showing all the time on your desktop.

It's Elementary

If you're mostly concerned about doing interesting and creative things with your images, but don't want to invest the time and money in learning Photoshop, Photoshop Elements 10 is an excellent option. True, Element's separation of Organizer and Editor and multi-step importing can feel cumbersome compared with other more-integrated apps like Corel PaintShop Pro. But these competitors don't come close to matching Photoshop Elements' array of dazzling photo effects, organizational tools like face tagging, and sharing and output options. Photoshop Elements 10’s tools for perfecting your digital images are unrivaled, making it our Editors' Choice for prosumer photo editing.

Face Recognition

Not only can Photoshop Elements 10's Organizer find and identify faces in your digital photos after you tag some of them with people's names, but it can also now hook into Facebook, download your friend list, and attach Facebook contact's names to photos. Photoshop Elements's face recognition did a decent job of identifying more photos of the same person, but it couldn't handle profile views, and sometimes proposed persons of the opposite gender (embarrassing) or failed to recognize the same face in the same session. At one point, it even wanted me to identify a subway warning sign—clearly face recognition isn't yet a perfect science, and something I've seen in pretty much every competitor's implementation, too.

Macworld's buying advice

If you’re on the go, you’ll appreciate the enhanced syncing features that keep your photo collection updated on all of your devices (though you’ll need to plunk down an extra $50 for the extra storage space of Elements Plus). The Organizer’s duplicate detection function will likely save you more than that amount in reclaimed hard drive space (not to mention time). The text enhancements will also thrill scrapbookers and the new Guided Edits are both practical and great learning tools. These features make an upgrade well worth the $80 price tag. However, if you're using iPhoto '11 for importing photos, you already have duplicate photo detection (though it doesn't work on similar photos). In that case, you can probably afford to wait on this upgrade. That said, if you're using Elements 8 or earlier, it's a great time to upgrade for a more full-featured photo editor—one that allows you to create collages—and more.

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