It was only a matter of time before the big players in the home image-editing market decided to integrate photo organization with image processing. With Photoshop Elements 3.0, Adobe is the first of the big boys to travel down this path.
Adobe has taken two sibling applications, Photoshop Elements and Photoshop Album, and combined them into a single solution that will meet all the needs of budding digital photographers. The result, known simply as Adobe Photoshop Elements 3.0, is a complete digital-imaging package comprising the Editor component, for fixing up images, and the new Organizer component, for cataloging and searching your burgeoning digital photo collection
Adobe has welded Photoshop Album and Photoshop Elements into one suite, creating a new version of Elements that includes both photo organization and image processing. The two sections can still be loaded as individual programs for when you're not using both at once, but the image processor has been redesigned to tie in better with the simpler look and feel of the organizer.
Both parts of this software have always been at the top of their game. The image processing side brings in Adobe's expertise from the professional version of Photoshop, making Elements one of the best equipped and most sophisticated tools available at a consumer price. The photo organizer section uses thumbnails you can resize with your mouse-wheel and an iconic drag-and-drop cataloguing system that is second to none.
Elements now has as much as possible in place to make it easy to use. The organizer has tools in it for simple image editing, as well as organizing. But most of the editing power lies in the image-editing section and, although in some ways it's simpler to use than its predecessor, it's still full of complicated tools that can take time to learn how to use effectively. Tutorials are included and it's worth persevering with the program to get the best results, but novices shouldn't expect to be creating complex photomontages on their first day using it.
Photoshop Elements is a truly outstanding photo editing program. To give you an idea here are seven of the tools that you will most likely use every time with this software.
1. Auto Levels -- With one click, colors pop and become more vibrant. Skin tones are optimized. The color cast from indoor or fluorescent lighting is eliminated. To do this manually would be much more time consuming (and definitely hit-or-miss).
2. Auto Contrast -- Also with one click, the light/dark contrast (and tonal range) of a photo is optimized giving the image much more richness.
3. Sharpen -- This takes a few clicks, but this command will make digital photos somewhat sharper. (This also happens automatically when one uses "Auto Contrast.") Sharpening digital photos, especially at longer focal lengths (or when using lower mega pixel cameras), is always welcome.
4. Fill Flash -- This command is absolutely amazing. When used, it will brighten all surfaces (in shadow) facings towards the camera (even in the background). If faces are too dark, this will lighten them. If details are lost in the shadows, this will restore them. Brighter areas are unaffected. This command almost eliminates the need for outdoor fill flash or reflectors, and results in much more natural (and more softly lit) portraits. If you take a lot of people pictures, (or if you like to shoot with natural light), this tool is indispensable.
5. Sunset Light -- This digital filter will give a photo taken during bright sunlight the warm glow of an evening image. The sky and all reflected surfaces will look warmer (and more romantic). This is a great way to add drama to scenes (turning cliches into works of art) -- especially if hanging around 'til it gets light out isn't an option.
6. Perspective Adjustment -- Using a wide angle lens and looking upwards will make buildings appear (on film) as though they are leaning backwards. This tool remedies this. I've found that I won't enlarge photos with leaning buildings -- but I will once they are upright again. Fixing a photo on the computer is also much more convenient than carrying a special shift perspective lens or lugging around a heavy view camera.
7. Color Cast Correction -- This is a really cool tool. For photos where the color is seriously off due to indoor incandescent or fluorescent lighting (beyond what can be remedied by the Auto Levels feature above), this tool fixes it with just one click. Simply put the cursor on an area you know to be black or gray -- and Photoshop Elements will adjust all of the colors (in the entire photo) accordingly. It works fantastically. If you're not satisfied, just keep clicking around other portions of the black or gray area until you get the overall color balance that you're seeking.
For my own use, I've found that I won't print a photo -- until I run it through Photoshop Elements first! I'll usually apply tips #1-3 to every photo. (This takes but mere seconds.) I'll use the Fill Flash feature when faces are too dark (or when the contrast between light and dark is too high.) Lastly, I'll use tools #5-7 only when the situation requires it.
The good news here is that despite this now being two programs in one, the price has remained the same. I can't argue with that, Elements 3.0 is a great value for the money.
If you would like to find out more about this and many other great Adobe products you can visit thier website at: www.adobe.com