Creating Order From Chaos
Review of Adobe Photoshop Elements 7

Last week, I explored Adobe Premiere Elements 7. This week I will take you on a tour of the other half of the Elements bundle Adobe Photoshop Elements 7.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 is all about organization. With the advent of the digital camera, taking pictures has never been so much fun, nor has it been so frustrating. The frustration starts the moment the uploading process begins. PSE7 has taken the stress out of uploading, storing, locating, editing and sharing your precious memories. In fact, PSE7 creates order from chaos.

As with Adobe Premiere Elements 7, it all begins with the launch screen, which appears upon uploading Adobe Photoshop Elements 7. Located on one side of the launch screen are instant access links to Photoshop.com—Adobe's latest and greatest, storage, sharing, and learning center (more about Photoshop.com at the end of this review). The launch screen also displays three color-coded "entrance" tabs: Organize, Edit, and Share, these tabs provide the portals to PSE7.

The Organizer tab takes you directly to the Organization workspace. There you can upload your images into your workspace from a variety of sources: cameras, card readers, scanners, files, folders. I was especially impressed with how easy PSE7, recognized my digital camera, uploaded the images and organized my files, within minutes. There was even an option to apply the red-eye fix and find "stackable" images...all during the process of uploading.

A unique function of the Organizer, is that it does not move your images, but instead, it creates thumbnail images from a variety of sources, using a system of cataloging data. As the Organizer can only search in one catalog at a time, PSE7 provides you several search/view options. The default view is the Thumbnail view. However, to truly organize your image files, there is the Folder Location view. Two other views that are both fun and functional are the date view (which displays your images on a calendar) and map view, (which marks your images on a map in regards to where they were taken).

When uploading images from your camera, the uploaded images are displayed as meaningless numbered prints. In PSE7, naming your photos has never been easier. Of course, you could spend time renaming each photo individually, but PSE7 makes it a snap to organize your prints. Simply highlight all the photos that you wish to group together...and then click on File, and Rename. A popup box will then prompt for the name of the image group, and rename the images with a title and a numbered sequence. I found this an invaluable function. 


Naming a series of Photos

As mentioned above, in the Calendar view, PSE7 not only organizes your images per the date, it also allows the user to add comments to the calendar. For those who do a lot of traveling, the map view is a must have. The map can then be uploaded and viewed either on an Online Map Album or on Flickr.com. 


Mapping your holiday photos

I know first-hand how frustrating and time consuming it can be to search for a specific photo, among the thousand images on a hard drive. PSE7 allows for easy organization and recall, especially using the Keyword Tags and Star function. Initially, it takes time to get every image tagged, but as you upload more photographs, you will appreciate the time spent. Once you have your images tagged, then you can put them into albums. Keyword Tags: are divided into categories and keywords, to help you get even more organized.

New to PSE7 is the ability to search for images using the Text Search function via the search box, which locates all the file names with a specific search engine criteria. It also locates image files by date, or a combination of both. You can even save the Text Search as a Smart Album. As you add future images with "that" specific title, it automatically adds the images to your album. You can also locate your photos by using the "Find" menu.

Editing and Sharing

There are three basic edit functions in PSE7: Quick Edit, Guided Edit, and Full Edit. Each edit function provides the user with increasingly advanced editing tools. All three Edit functions offer "before and after" viewing windows. 


Making blue skies bluer

Quick Edit is perfect for those times that you just want to do a little touch-up. New to PSE7 (under Quick Edit) are: Automatic Red Eye Fix, Teeth Whitening, Blue Sky Adjusting, and a High Contrast option for Black and White photographs. I found the blue sky tool helpful when used on a dull sky. Although, I found this tool useless on a totally washed-out sky, which was a little disappointing. Also, the Red Eye Fix worked well with people, but did not fix the same "flash" problem with pets (as dogs generally have a green cast instead of red).

Guided Edit is an excellent learning tool, for those just getting started, as it provides step-by-step editing instructions. There are many new categories and sub-categories of innovative tools within Guided Edit. Within Photomerge, is the new Scene Cleaner, which "magically" removes unwanted objects using a combination of the Pencil and Eraser tools, similar to how the Group Shot functions. 

Scene Cleaner Before and After

Within the Guided Edit are also the new Automated Actions and Photographic Effects. The best part about Automated Actions, is that you can import third-party actions into PSE7. Just "Google" Photoshop Actions, and download them to your PSE7 Actions folder. One of my favorite functions in PSE7 was the Line Drawing tool (under Photographic Effects). The image actually had the appearance of a lined drawing. I was impressed. 


Line Drawing

Full Edit is perfect for those long time Adobe Photoshop or Photoshop Elements users, as it offers tools similar to the full version of Photoshop. In full edit mode, there is a new Smart Brush tool, which allows you to apply a variety of effects in a selective manner, simply by dragging the brush across an image. There are fifty preset special effects to choose for adjusting color and tone, creating effects, and touching up details. Some examples are: lipstick, suntan, cloud contrast, infrared, impressionist, several color tints, film negative, fluorescent glow, and bright eyes. An important feature is that all the effects use masks and adjustment layers.

Also new in PSE7 is the Surface Blur filter, which is intended to soften surfaces, and at the same time keep the edges and details crisp. It is Adobe's version of an instant facelift for your portrait photos.

Along with the above Editing functions, there is a quick click editing option, to do simple tasks within the Organizer panel. Allowing the user to rotate, fix red-eye...and my favorite, Auto Smart Fix; which is another quick way to clean up a family snapshot.

Once your images are organized and edited, sharing with friends and family is more fun than you can imagine. However, before sharing be sure to click on the Create Tab, and choose from the following five functions: Photo Book, Photo Calendar, Photo Collage, Slide Show, and Order Prints. Within the Create Panel is a variety of backgrounds, themes, online albums, and templates. All of these provide additional ways to enhance sharing your family memories.

Finally, sharing your images has never been easier. Just click on the Share Tab and choose one of the following options: Online Album, E-Mail Attachment, Photo Mail, Print, Order Prints, or Burn to a Disk.

Backing Up Data

Another new function in both PSE7 and PE7 is the ability to backup online without leaving the program. As well as backing up your files, the Photoshop.com membership, allows you to receive new and innovative creative tools delivered directly to your Adobe Elements programs, as well as a powerful learning center.

Photoshop.com allows you to view or use your image files anywhere you happen to be, not just on your home or work computer. Of course, once you get a taste of Adobe's Photoshop.com free Basic membership, you will want to check out the advantages of upgrading to the Plus membership. With the Photoshop.com Plus Membership, users get additional storage space, along with access to additional Elements tutorials and theme-based templates.

The bottom line, Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 and Adobe Premier Elements 7 makes organizing your images and videos as easy as drag and drop. Adobe makes it even more convenient by sharing the organized files within both Elements programs. With just a click of a "radio button" you have the option to instantly backup your image files on Photoshop.com. Adobe makes getting your precious images out of your camera and viewable by everyone!

The Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 and Adobe Premiere Elements 7 bundle is the perfect gift for anyone who takes digital photographs!

In summary, the more important new features in Photoshop Elements 7 are:

  • Photoshop.com (backup, sharing, and learning center)
  • Adjustable Workspace brightness
  • Easy photo location with Text Search Box
  • Photomerge Scene Cleaner (take unwanted objects out of scene)
  • Automated Actions Player (allowing for third party actions, including scrapbooking)
  • New Guided Edits
  • Quick Edit Touch Up Tools
  • 2-in-1 Smart Brush
  • Surface Blur Filter

We invite you to visit Adobe's official site to view additional statistics or download a trial version!

  • Photoshop Elements 7: $99.99 USD [Full Version] $79.99 [upgrade]
  • Bundled with Premiere Elements 7: $179.99 [Full Version] $149.99 [upgrade]

Get to know industry leaders and professionals
as they sit down and talk candidly with
Contributing Columnist, Dee-Marie,
Author of "Sons of Avalon: Merlin's Prophecy"

December 15, 2008

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