Jul 3 2005
Adobe Photoshop Elements 3.0
Ever since MacMerc.com started to gain attention for its Photoshop tutorials,
we have been asked the question: “Will this tutorial work with -fill
in name of graphics program here-?” Support for pixel-based graphics
applications such as Microsoft Paint, Corel PaintShop Pro and Adobe Photoshop
Elements have been suggested over the years and the
answer has always been the same:
No. The graphics tutorials are written
for the applications specified within the article and for the Macintosh platform.
That is not to say that the tutorials cannot be used to guide users of other graphics
programs and operating systems to create the same effect, but we will not be rewriting
our work to please everybody, everywhere using everything. Sorry.
Then, last September, Adobe
announced Adobe Elements 3.0 with the addition of several new features that
had previously been reserved for professional users with Adobe Photoshop CS
(and now CS2). The new Elements has Batch Processing, iPhoto Compatibility,
Spot Healing and Camera Raw support among many other features. It even includes
forward thinking ideas like the ability to create, edit and apply keywords as
metadata to your files (and not just images, I might add) and enabled you to
use that information to aid in searching from the File Browser. Impressive…most
Let me just burst the bubbles of everyone hoping to get Adobe Photoshop Elements
versions of all our current tutorials right now–there is a big reason for there
being two separate Photoshop applications here and though Elements is much more
powerful than it has ever been before, it still can’t and shouldn’t be expected
to match up against its bigger brother.
But now that I have got my hands on this application, I must say, I am pleasantly
surprised at the feature set available for such a low
price. Adobe has given a much better answer for someone who feels limited
by the abilities of Apple’s iPhoto but is overwhelmed by the complexity of Photoshop
proper. This is not a program to look down your nose at….as, I must admit,
I used to do. I use Photoshop CS every day to do masking, compositing and to
create multilayered files with open-ended abilities for a multitude of purposes.
But if you just want to be able to take control of color, clean up a few rough
spots and share your photos with friends and do so with a bit more power than
iPhoto, then Photoshop Elements 3.0 is your answer.
The QuickFix mode offers a kind of “one stop shop” giving you access
to General Fixes, Lighting, Color, and Sharpen adjustments and the Auto adjustment
buttons allow you to turn the correction power over to Elements to make its
The Healing brush and the Spot Healing brush that are familiar to Photoshop
users will soon become favorites of Elements users as well. It is a simple click
to blend out blemishes and rough spots in you images with these two tools.
The ability to edit images in Camera Raw format will appeal to photographers.
For the first time, Elements users can adjust images in 16-bit on a Camera Raw
image allowing them a greater range of subtle levels.
What I find myself not liking about Elements is the interface. Maybe it’s just
the snobbery of a Photoshop CS2 user, but the layout of the palettes in Elements
has me feeling confined. We’ve got the Palette Bin on the right, the Tools on
the left, the Photo Bin on the bottom and the Tool Options on the top. Sure
you can collapse or hide many of these palettes, but I often do need them and
they are not only encroaching on my borders but they are frickin’ big as well.
Also on the top is a rather redundant bar that holds New, Open and Save buttons
and also holds the buttons to toggle between QuickFix and Standard Edit Mode,
but really, there is already a menu bar that contains all these functions. Give
a guy a break and free up some screen space.
I also discovered a troubling discrepancy in the feature set of Photoshop Elements
between the Mac version and the version for Windows–no organizer for us Mac
users. I suppose us Mac users were not afforded the option of using the Adobe
Album-like organizer that comes integrated into the Windows version of Elements
because it is assumed that we’re all happy with Apple’s iPhoto. I’m really not
too overjoyed at the prospect of using either to be honest, but it irks me when
companies limit the choices I have at my disposal.
So all in all, I’m pretty impressed with Elements and I have no trouble recommending
it to professionals who are in a field other than graphics. I would still hope
that anyone bringing in a paycheck as a graphics professional would put in the
time and money to become proficient in Photoshop proper, but professionals in
other fields can use their Mac mastery to take control of their digital images
with Adobe Photoshop Elements and do it with ease.
I am no longer going to turn my nose up at Elements users, and, oh, alright,
maybe just one