NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article
Master the Elements with Adobe's great new offering
by Preston Gralla, Executive Editor ZDNet Software Library, April 2001

Whenever I come upon some impressive digital imaging in print or on the Web, I always wonder how the designer/artist came up with the idea and executed it. Much of the time, I know, they've used a high-end graphics program like Adobe Photoshop. The trouble is, no matter how much I might envy them their tools, I just can't handle the steep learning curve (not to mention the sticker shock).

Granted, there is some popular and inexpensive digital imaging shareware, but none has much of a pedigree. But happily, the days of talking yourself out of "investing" in Adobe Photoshop are now over. No longer will you torture yourself over whether you should or should not bite that big expensive bullet, because Adobe Photoshop Elements has come along.

OKAY, SO YOU'RE NOT a sought-after, recognized digital designer, but you do have the heart of an artist and you love to do more than just dabble. Photoshop Elements offers much of the power of its well-known relative but provides impressive features that are tailored specifically for amateur photographers, hobbyists, and business users. Some of its distinct new features, which I briefly touch on below, are not even found in Adobe Photoshop.

Photoshop Elements opens with a Quick Start screen that lets you quickly create, open, and/or input a digital image from a scanner or digital camera. It has a Hints palette that provides context-sensitive illustrations and tips that explain how to use its tools. The Recipes palette interactively instructs you how to perform multistep tasks, such as adding gradient effects, while allowing you complete control throughout the procedure.

THE POWERFUL COLOR-CORRECTION and image touch-up tools are simple to understand and easy to use. The Variations command automatically generates multiple color-adjusted versions and displays them side by side, making it convenient to identify the best adjustment to make. You can remove red-eye problems with pinpoint accuracy using the Red Eye Brush Tool, and Color Cast Correction provides numeric and slider-bar adjustment controls over the entire image. Photoshop Elements offers Levels and other professional controls that let you precisely enhance color-range dynamics without sacrificing picture detail.

You can automatically straighten and crop scanned images with one command. Often the flash of a camera will create over-exposure; the Adjust Backlighting and Fill Flash features let you compensate and overcome such issues. Finally, you'll find a new (and impressive) feature that you will not find in Adobe Photoshop: Adobe Photomerge. It will automatically resize, skew, and blend portions of multiple images into seamless panoramas and can also determine how to arrange the images horizontally or vertically.

Adobe Photoshop Elements, our current LaunchPad Exclusive, is one incredible bang for your buck. With the power of Photoshop, and then some, in an elegantly accessible interface, don't be surprised if you find yourself more naturally creative than ever before.

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