These days every family has a digital camera, or 2 or 3. And with that comes pictures, thousands of pictures. So now you not only need a way to sort and keep track of them. But also a way to edit them. And of course you’ll want to share them with your friends. You could use Picassa or similar program to sort and file them. And a basic photo editor and then simply email them out to all your friends. But who wants to learn to use three separate pieces of software?
Now with Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 (PSE9) you can have all this in one! Photoshop is of course the gold standard of photo editing. However, its price tag as well as complexity keeps it out of reach of many users. That is why Adobe has given us Photoshop Elements. The latest installment of Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 has finally made several leaps forward, making it even more user friendly than ever, as well as powerful.
In Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 they have added Organizer. A very well designed program to keep track of all your photos. You can sort them by date, by tags that automatically sort based on quality, as well as basic type of image (e.g. motion, blur, etc.) and also by facial recognition of everyone in your photo collection! And of course this is linked directly into the editor so that double-clicking a photo will open up a file to make changes.
But the coolest thing about the Organizer is that even if you change the name of the edited file you can keep it linked to the original file. What’s that mean? Well, if you crop a picture and save it in a different folder, on a different hard-drive, Organizer is smart enough to where it is and when you view the thumbnail it tells you that it is part of a “Version Set.” Then clicking the little arrow next to it will show you all of its versions.
Moving on to the editing functions of Adobe Photoshop Elements 9. What can I say? There is everything you’d expect to have and more in a good photo editor. There is no way to list all the edits, brushes, filters and effects. So I’ll mention just a few that I really liked.
The edit area is practically the whole screen. But sometimes you may want to view 3, 4 or more images at a time, so instead of just a “Tile Windows” option, you get 20 preset layouts to choose from. But of course, you can still resize them individually if you like. Very nice.
This year they have also added “layers” to make PSE9 work more its big brother Photoshop, so that now you can do much more complex editing. You can test different filters out on several layers and then turn them on/off to see the difference quickly and easily. Layers also give you the ability to get really creative with transparencies and a whole lot more.
One thing that I like to do to my photos is to use the mask/lasso tool and select just one person and make them stand out in the photo by applying a filter to the background. Previously this was a bit tedious, and required carefully tracing around each individual. But not anymore! Using “Magik Extractor” you only have to quickly mark the areas you want to keep, then the areas you don’t want, then the PSE9 automatically selects what you want and discards the rest. I was really impressed with the accuracy of this tool. This is truly a time-saver.
Another fun feature is the “Text Warp.” At first glance you may think it is just “Word Art” style effects as in Microsoft Word. But this gives you a lot more flexibility in the way you can twist and contort the text. I have only just begun thinking of how this can be used in many projects.
There is also a nice addition of “Guided” effects. If you are new to photo editing, this feature will speed up the learning curve. It is basically a tutorial, but you are actually editing your photo as you go. This is much more effective than reading in a book or from a web page and then trying to do it yourself in the editor. Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 walks you through each step, explaining everything as you go.
You can choose from Basic Photo Edits, Lighting, Color, Touching up Old Photos, Photomerge, Photgraphic Effects, “Fun Edits” (Lomo Camera Effect, Out of Bounds, etc.) and more. I really liked the “Out of Bounds” effect, but although it has some limitations, for most projects it will be more than adequate.
Now what about sharing your photos? For starters, when you install the software you are invited to join Photoshop.com, and get 2GB of of free online storage. Of course, that won’t go very far, so you can always opt to purchase more online storage. But it’s a nice gesture. Then from within the Organizer or the Editor you have several options of how to share your creations.
You can share your files using your Online Album (at Photoshop.com), via email, PhotoMail, Flicker, Facebook, SmugMug, CEIVA Phot Frame as well as burning it to a CD/DVD, making a PDF slideshow or Kodak Easyshare. Whew! So getting these pics out to your friends is really as easy as clicking a few buttons. There is also an option to print and design photobooks, calendars and greeting cards at home on your printer or through an online service – right from within PSE9.
Overall I am very pleased with Adobe Photoshop Elements 9. I have just a few complaints. First, as nice as the online features are, I disliked having to join yet another online service. The Organizer is also great, but it is CPU intensive. If you have a blazing fast new PC, then you may have no issues. I am using a dual core 2Ghz processor with 2GB of RAM and it had a hard time running Organizer. As it is, it crashed a few times on me.
I also disliked the Welcome Screen popping up everytime I start the program. You can tell it to also launch the Editor or Organizer automatically, but I could not find a way to stop it from opening all together. In my opinion, it wastes time to see it again and again.
But, these are small issues. All-in-all Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 is a great update to awesome application. And it really is the only choice if you want to have fun with the hundreds or thousands of pictures you are taking without spending Pro-level prices. So if you have an earlier version of PSE9 – this is the time to upgrade. And if you are in the market for a photo editing program, stop looking and buy it. You won’t regret it. Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 is available for both Mac and PC and is available for as low as $89 at Amazon.
Many features. Great for both a novice or pro. Fills the need of 3 types of software: Photo Organizer, Photo Editor and Photo Sharing.
Needs a fast computer and slightly older systems may struggle running it. Some features may get in the way of the advanced user.