Photoshop Elements

Photoshop Elements
Company: Adobe

Price: $99.00
Upgrade price: $69 following $30 mail-in rebate (PhotoDeluxe, Photoshop LE or Corel PHOTO-PAINT)

I’m sure that a lot of you have discovered the joys of taking pictures with a new digital camera. By now you’ve also probably discovered that the software that came with the camera just doesn’t seem to be able to do what you want it to do. Well, for those of you who can’t afford to run out and buy Photoshop, Adobe has provided you with an alternate software program that will do what you need it to do, and at a price that most people can afford.

Adobe Photoshop Elements has taken up a position between the low-end PhotoDeluxe and Photoshop, offering a mid-range product in both pricing and capabilities for Mac users. If any of you have ever tried to use Photoshop, you are well aware that it is not that easy a product for someone to sit down and use just by doing. You really do need to read the manual and preferably, get a well-written how-to book on Photoshop and practice, practice, practice. Photoshop Elements has definitely made the learning curve a heck of a lot easier for the new or average user.

The first thing that struck me after the easy install of Elements was once I opened it up, the Hints palette was there waiting to help me get started. Not sure what the items are that are in the tools or what a palette is for? Just place the cursor over the item and the hints palette will give you a brief description.

For a new user or someone trying to experiment, the hints palette is a great idea. Rather then going crazy trying to figure out what the item is used for, a quick description can get you moving in the right direction. What I found to be another helpful item was the Tutorial from the Help menu. Click Tutorial under the Help menu and Elements opens up your default browser and presents you with a tutorial on how to use Photoshop Elements. Some of the items covered are: Looking at the Work Area, Getting Images into Photoshop Elements, Working with Color, Transforming and Retouching, Using Layers and Applying Filters and Effects. Click once on the item that you want to cover and a submenu will appear offering you additional items to be covered. Not a bad way for someone to learn how to work with photos and images and get started quicker.

Once you have started to get the basics down and feel more at ease, you’ll find the user interface is easy to use. You can start to work your way through the other palettes – Recipes, Filters, Effects, Layer and History, to name a few. Again, the Hints palette will provide additional information to help you understand what its use is and you can always go back to the Help menu and read the tutorial. Since Photoshop Elements also provides you with almost a hundred filters to play with, you can have lots of fun playing around and tweaking your photos to see what kind of new look you can add to your pictures.

Want to view or work on pictures from your digital camera? You just use the software that came with the camera to access the photos, save them to your Mac and then just open them up with Photoshop Elements to work on them. That’s when the fun can really begin.

So you’ve taken a picture of the family at a gathering and suddenly the family tribe looks like they’re possessed with those funny red eyes staring back at you. No problem, just use the Red Eye brush to remove the redness out of the family’s eyes. You just set the target color you want to remove, pick a replacement color, Drag the brush over the part of the image you want to correct and the pixels that match the target color will be replaced with the replacement color. Not a bad way for dealing with photo red-eye.

Don’t have a digital camera yet but you do have a scanner… no problem. As long as you have a scanner that has an Adobe Photoshop-compatible plug-in or that supports the TWAIN interface, you can still use Photoshop Elements. If you have neither capability, just scan the images and save them as TIFF, PICT or BMP files. I scanned a couple of photos and used the plug-in to open them up in Photoshop Elements. I made use of the Red Eye brush to do some touch up work on the photos and then just saved them and voila, no more red eyes problems with the clan photos.

One of the interesting items in Photoshop Elements is the Photomergetm command that allows the user to combine several photos into one continuous image. Like most of you, I’ve taken photos of scenery in sequential shots that this just seemed to be made for me to try out. After scanning the images in, I read through the tutorial on using Photomergetm, followed the instructions and stitched the photos together. Now while the process took me a while, and the panorama was somewhat jagged when it was pieced together, I continued to follow the instructions and then just cropped the image to remove the rough spots. I was amazed at the final outcome from my work with Elements. Definitely something new and different for the users to try out when they work with Photoshop Elements.

Easy to use, easier to learn then its older brother Photoshop, reasonable price… sounds like it has it all. There is the one drawback…

Just like Photoshop, it does use a bit of memory, to say the least. But, with the price of RAM being what it is today, there really isn’t any reason that most users can’t increase the physical RAM in their Macs and make the most of the capabilities of their Mac and of Elements. I ran Elements on my 6400/180, running OS 9.1 with 136 Megs RAM (max) with a Vimage G3 (320 MHz) card and didn’t encounter any problems that shut me down. I’ve put Elements through the paces and overall, it’s a very nice program.

By the way, the CD-ROM that has the software for Photoshop Elements on it has both a Mac and a Windows version on it. A two-for-the price of one, if you would. Right now purchasers of Photoshop Elements receive 15 free reprints from Shutterfly upon installation. While Adobe has not yet linked Photoshop Elements as an upgrade path to Photoshop itself nor offered any upgrade pricing, hopefully it will happen sooner or later. I’ve done some checking and I’ve found Elements priced at $89.95 in catalogs and online. Keep your eyes open for upcoming specials in the next few months. Check out all the pertinent information on Photoshop Elements at

System Requirements:
PowerPC processor, OS 8.6 through 9.1 (no OS X version yet), 64 megs of RAM with virtual memory turned on, 150MB of hard disk space, color monitor with 256-color or greater video card, 800 x 600 or greater monitor resolution and a CD-ROM drive.

MacMice Rating: 4 out of 5

Russ Walkowich


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