Adobe Photoshop Elements 10 in Review

Product Review: Adobe Photoshop Elements 10

Adobe Photoshop Elements is not only a powerful image editing program, it is also a timesaving tool for organizing and sharing your images … all at an affordable price. At first glance, the additions to Adobe Photoshop Elements 10 seem minor; however, once you explore the program, you'll discover numerous new features and enhancements that will spark your creativity.

What makes Adobe Photoshop Elements 10 stand apart from other image editing software is its dual functionality. If you are new to photo editing, choose either the auto quick Fix Edits or the Guided Edits feature; both provide fast and easy functions to do complicated edits that give your images professional results. If you feel more adventurous, or if you're a professional photographer, switch to the Full Edit mode, and work with layers, masks, and a full array of creative editing tools.

Getting Organized

As with previous version of Adobe Elements (both Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements), it all starts with the Organizer. The new and enhanced organizing tools take the drudgery out of organizing. If you are tempted to skip this step … don't! Taking the time to organize your images (and videos) when you first install Elements, will save you hours of searching your hard drive for specific photos to edit.

Duplicate Photo Search (new in Organizer)

One of the new search tool options in the Elements 10 Organizer is Duplicate Photo Search. I confess, I have a bad habit of saving duplicate copies of images to different folders on my main computer's hard drive. I also back-up duplicate copies of images on a variety of external hard drives. In other words, my photo filing system is a disaster.

Now, thanks to the new Duplicate Photo Search feature, I can locate duplicate images in the Elements Organizer. Then, I have the options to: stack duplicate images together; delete the duplicate thumbnails from the Elements Organizer; or delete the duplicate images from my hard drives.

The Organizer does a great job of finding and grouping duplicate images, although it does tend to gather "similar" images along with the "duplicate" ones. This is really not a problem, as it is easy to select the replicated images, even within a group of "similar" images. The easy solution to eliminating all those extra files: stack the duplicate images together, or simply delete the doppelgangers, leaving your disorganized photo collection instantly clutter free.


Duplicate Photo Search: selecting "duplicate" images within a group of "similar" images to stack

Object Search (new in Organizer)

I have thousands of dog photos, and the People Recognition search, in previous editions of Elements Organizer, did a surprisingly good job of finding a specific dog from within the pack. However, People Recognition (as I was reminded last year at an Adobe conference) was designed to search for people, not pets. So, when I read about Object Search, one of the new features in Elements 10, I could hardly wait to try it out. After all, this was a feature that I personally requested last year (as I'm sure many other users did as well, but I'd like to believe that Adobe created this feature just for me).

The first time I used the Object Search, I have to admit, I was disappointed. When I tried to search for images of my Black Labrador Retriever, the search came up with people, horses, birds, and even photos of landscapes void of people or animals.

The key to getting the best results from this new search feature (especially if you have an over abundance of pet photos), is to first create an Elements Organizer Album specifically for your pets. Once you have all your pet photos in one album, select up to four images that best represent a specific pet. To up your odds of finding all the images you are searching for, adjust the "refine search slider" to either look for shapes or colors. In most cases, I found "color" to be a better refiner than "shape," as shape still brought up photos of horses, birds, and even dolphins.

After refining my search, I was extremely pleased with the final outcome. I was especially impressed that it only selected photos of my Black Labrador and did not include images of my Chocolate Lab. In a group of hundreds of photos of my Black Lab, only one odd image popped up (a black and white, pen and ink drawing of … dolphins). Over time, coupled with trial and error, and lots of perseverance, I've become a fan of this new feature (Thank you, Adobe, for listening to your users, and doing your best to meet our wants and needs).


Object Search: Refining the search for photos of my Black Labrador

Facebook Friends Tag (new in Organizer)

Another much anticipated new feature is the Facebook Friends tag, used in conjunction with People Recognition to automatically apply your Facebook information to photos in your Organizer.

People Recognition (not new, but good for a giggle)

Although the aforementioned People Recognition search is not new to the Elements 10 Organizer, it did recently provide me with some humorous moments. When I did a People Recognition for photos of my husband, it continually added photos of our older Yellow Labrador Retriever (just proves the old saying: "Over time, owners and their dogs start to look alike."


People Recognition search feature

Editing Features

Although Adobe Photoshop Elements 10 is not packed with new editing features, the ones it does have are not only innovative (and fun), but also features that have been top-requested from both novice and professional photographers.

Orton Effect (new in Guided Edit)

The Orton Effect is a photographic technique created by photographer Michael Orton. The effect blends layers of the same image, in which each layer (of the same image) has been separately manipulated. The resulting photographs produce a dream-like painterly effect.

Under the Guided Edit Tab, the Orton Effect is located under Photography Effects. Creating the Orton Effect is as simple as clicking the "Add Orton Effect" button. Once the initial effect is applied, you have the option of further manipulating your image by adjusting one (or all) of the three sliders (Increase Blur, Increase Noise, Apply Brightness).

Depth of Field Effect (new in Guided Edit)

Depth of field is defined as: the distance between the nearest and the furthest objects that give an image judged to be in focus in a camera. All serious photographers understand the importance of depth of field, and how critical it is in creating the perfect image.

Under the Guided Edit Tab, the new Depth-of-Field Effect is located under Lens Effect. You are given the option to choose from two methods (Simple or Custom) to apply depth of field to your image. Although both methods are easy to apply, I found the Custom method, with its additional selection options, produced the best (and very impressive) results.

Picture Stack Effect (new in Guided Edit)

Under the Guided Edit Tab, the new Stack Effect is appropriately located under Photo Play. This is a fun effect, especially for artists who enjoy scrapbooking. The basic effect is created in three steps. First, select the number of pictures you would like your layout to be divided into. Second, select the size of the borders. In the third step, select either a gradient or solid filler background.

Although listed under the Guided Edit Tab, once the initial Picture Stack effects are added, you can then open the manipulated image in Full Edit to make further adjustments.

Smart Brush and 30 new patterns and effects (new in Full Edit)

In Full Edit Mode, one of the new editing tools is the Smart Brush (along with its 30 new patterns and special effects). The Smart Brush had me saying "wow" from the moment I started painting. It quickly and efficiently defined the edges of my image, creating a "mask" of the painted sections. Using the Smart Brush Icons on the top of the image, allows for additional refinement of the painted section.

Once you are satisfied with the selected areas, open the Picker, and select from a variety of patterns or effects to fill in the background. You can also check the Inverse Box, and the image automatically reverses the areas previously painted with the Smart Brush. Inside the Layers Panel, you can tweak your image even more. For example, change the opacity, or paint on the mask, to create additional effects.

As with other Adobe User Interfaces, you can "float," "move" or "dock" panels to maximize your optimal working preferences.

Curving and Flowing Text (new in Full Edit)

In Adobe Photoshop Elements 10, there are three new text options located in the Full Edit Tool Bar: the Text on Shape Tool, the Text on Custom Path Tool, and the Text on Selection Tool. Although the new Text Tools produce similar outcomes, each tool differs greatly in its functionality and the ease (or difficulty) of use.


The Text on Shape Tool, the Text on Custom Path Tool, and the Text on Selection Tool

The Text on Shape Tool was by far the easiest of the three to produce readable text. A pull down menu features a variety of shapes (ranging from ellipse to butterfly) on which to place your text. Once you have typed your text, you can move and/or manipulate it to fit your design.

The Text on a Custom Path Tool has the steepest learning curve. I worked with it for hours, on different images, and it was a struggle to produce text on the custom path that was readable. The letters kept dropping into the lines or jumbled together. I tried to vary the font size and width. I tried different fonts. Finally, out of hours of frustration, I moved the text as close as I could to a relatively straight section of the custom path. Not a perfect solution, but at least the text was readable. I'm sure with time and patience it will become easier to master.

The Text on Selection Tool is the third of the new text options. With this text tool, you select an object, and then place the text around the outer (or inner) outline of the object. Although this tool also had some legibility problems, it was far easier to use than the Custom Path Tool. It was also easier to adjust the line on which the text was typed by using the specialty "Add To Selection" and the "Subtract From Selection" tools.

Creating and Sharing

Creativity, along with file sharing, has always been in the forefront of Adobe's Elements series. Photoshop Elements 10 continues with Adobe's community oriented theme. Along with its professional editing tools, there is a section totally devoted to creating new and enhanced ways of sharing your edited photos. From one-of-a-kind photo books, to interactive online photo albums, the ability to create cherished photographic heirlooms has never been easier.

There are also dozens of new scrapbooking and card making templates with editable text options, that will set your creativity on fire and your imagination soaring. Saving your projects to JPEG and PDF formats makes printing, uploading and sharing your creations effortless.

In Conclusion

Although Adobe Photoshop Elements 10 is not overflowing with new features, the functionality and affordable price make this a must-have program for all levels of photographers: from hobbyist to professional.

Step up to Adobe Photoshop Elements 10 PLUS, for the ultimate experience. In the PLUS version, you get: 20GB of storage to keep videos and photos safe; ongoing deliveries of helpful how-tos, as well as convenient access to more than 50 existing tutorials; access to exclusive libraries of creative extras, including 14 Online Albums and 20 print artwork sets; access to your videos and photos wherever you are; and public and invitation-only online video and photo sharing.

  • Adobe Photoshop Elements 10 Full Version: $99.99
  • Adobe Photoshop Elements 10 Upgrade: $79.99
  • Adobe Photoshop Elements 10 PLUS: $139.99
  • Adobe Photoshop and Premiere Elements 10 PLUS bundle: $179.99
  • Bundled with Adobe Premiere Elements 10 Full Version: $149.99
  • Bundled with Adobe Premiere Elements 10 Upgrade: $119.99
  • 30 Day Trial: Free

We invite you to explore the official Adobe website for additional information on Adobe Photoshop Elements 10 and other Adobe Products and tutorials


Editor's Note: Be sure to also visit


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November 7, 2011

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