Photoshop Elements 2 (Four Books)
Book Review

Having just reviewed Photoshop Elements 2, it wasn’t hard to make the transition over to reviewing books on PSE 2. Despite having a great help system built in and terrific online information available, there are always those moments when questions will pop up when you’re involved with something in PSE 2 that you just wish you had a book to look through just to make sure. Well, I have four books that are designed for users of PSE 2 from the beginner level up through advanced concepts. So take a few minutes to read through the four titles to see if you’ve found one that just suits your needs. Also take the time to check online to check out sample chapters and for great pricing on the books!

Photoshop Elements 2 for Dummies
By Deke McClelland and Galen Fott

Wiley Publishing, Inc.
ISBN 0-7645-1675-2, 388 pages
$21.99 US, $32.99 CN, £16.50 UK

Let’s be honest… sitting down and reading any how-to book on any software application program can at times be dry, to say the least. Thankfully Deke McClelland and Galen Fott have taken PSE 2 and approached it with a sense of humor that makes reading their Dummies book quite enjoyable.

The authors have taken PSE 2 and broken the learning route into five different parts. Part 1: Element-ary School; Part II: Be Prepared; Part III: Realer Than Life; Part IV: The Inspiration/Perspiration Equation and Part V: The Part of Tens. The book starts by explaining the basic setup of PSE 2 and then continues on to explain the painting and image editing tools that make up PSE 2. As you continue through the book, you are taken through the steps of starting up PSE 2 and familiarization with the layout and dealing with dialog boxes, palettes and tools. Then the fun starts as they begin to get you involved with cropping, rotating, understanding color theory, color management and grayscale.

Both authors continue to walk the reader through all the aspects of PSE 2, dealing with each tool, layers, color replacement and variations, retouching images, and the use of painting tools. You are also taken to the land of TYPE and the use of the tools, editing and layers. Once you’ve worked your way through all of the basic aspects of PSE 2, you are brought to the point of learning the automated features that are contained in the program. The Effects palette, batch processing, attaching a file to email, creating a PDF slideshow, picture packages and Photomerge are some of the topics covered. They end the book by covering 10 important PSE 2 shortcuts for use by the reader.

The authors have even included a full color section so that the readers can see what you can achieve in PSE 2. Overall, with the tips, hints, points to remember, step by step process, the cheat sheet, combined with the humor that is included free, Photoshop Elements 2 for Dummies is a good buy for the beginner or for someone who wants to sharpen their skills.

MacMice Rating: 4 out of 5

SAMS Teach Yourself Photoshop Elements 2 in 24 Hours
By Carla Rose and Jennifer Fulton

Sams Publishing
ISBN 0-672-32430-X, 482 pages
$24.99 US, $38.99 CN, £17.99 UK

Carla Rose has been involved with photography since she was a young girl and has continued with her interest, expanding into the Macintosh area, and writing more than 24 computer books. Jennifer Fulton has written over 100 computer books for both the education and retail market. Together they have worked to produce a book that will get you up and going with Photoshop Elements 2 in a relatively short time.

Now the idea is not that you sit down and start to read the book, one chapter an hour straight for twenty-four hours. The idea is to provide the reader with enough information that they can then take an hour or two to work with what they’ve learned from reading the chapter, building their knowledge and confidence levels as they continue on.

Chapter One starts with the basic introduction to PSE 2 for the reader, explaining the Help resources including Tool Tips, Hints Palette, How-To’s and the Help Button. Chapter Two guides the reader through the Elements Desktop, through Tools, Shortcuts, Options, Menus and preferences. Each chapter that follows continues to provide the reader with logical basic information for them to follow as they work their way through the program. Starting and Saving, Importing Source Images, Making Selections and Using Layers, Adding Type, Printing Picture and Posting to the Web cover the remaining 8 hours. The reader then works into Simple Corrections (Levels, Contrast, Color, Straightening, Skewing, Cropping/Resizing, Repair Recipes and Tutorials); Photo Rescue (Black-and-White pictures, Color Repairs, Removing/Replacing Objects, Improvement Filters) and the remaining 7 hours cover Creativity (Artistic Filters, Art from Scratch, Composite Images, Going Wild, Creating Background/Textures from Scratch, to name a few)

Each chapter/hour includes a summary, Q & A, a Workshop (Questions and the Answers) and Activities for the reader to put what they’ve learned to the test. Ms. Rose has even set up that examples of images used in the book can be downloaded from Sams Publishing’s main site to work with as part of the Activities section in two of the chapters. While the book is in black and white, the authors have included a full Color Gallery that shows the images in the book as they would appear, including the page number and “hourÓ that the reader would be in. The book is logical, well thought out and is not overwhelming even for the brand new user or beneath a user that is familiar with Photoshop Elements.

MacMice Rating: 4 out of 5

Photoshop Elements 2 Solutions (The Art of Digital Photography)
By Mikkel Aaland

ISBN 0-7821-4140-4, 302 pages (includes CD)
$40.00 US, $64.00 CN, £29.99 UK

Author Mikkel Aaland is a well-known pioneer in digital photography and writer, not only of books on photography, digital photography but on other subjects as well. If you’ve ever watched the Screensavers on Tech TV, you’ve seen Mikkel Aaland working his magic with Photoshop Elements, so you know that he knows exactly what he’s talking about in the book. He has updated his first book, Photoshop Elements 2 Solutions, to provide the reader with the latest information, tips, and step-by-step instructions to make full use of the improvements within PSE 2. If you are into photography, digital photography and image scanning, this book is a must for you.

Written for both PC and Mac user, this full color work first guides the reader through the basics of PSE 2, from setting preferences to where to go for help when using the program. Using his knowledge and skills, Mr. Aaland then walks us through the process that he uses to make ordinary images great ones; from deciding which tasks come first, controls, layer adjustments with masks to resizing and framing your images.

He approaches chapters with the eye of an experienced photographer, as shown in Chapter 3 where he goes into depth on Better Faces, the idea being to intensify the focus on one’s eyes, eliminating red eye, getting rid of wrinkles (a must for us baby boomers!) and using simple techniques and tips to get the reader going in the right direction. You’ll find yourself making faces more symmetrical, fixing hair, adding hair and even changing the color and tinting hair. Mr. Aaland even offers tips on producing better portraits and where to find more information on working with photographs.

The book continues with dealing with outside shots, product shots, transparent layers, texture, scale and perspective, even how to set up your own mini photo studio. Want to learn how to do composites, seamless pasting, improve your real estate photographs, balancing light? You’ll be walked through the process one step at a time. One whole chapter is devoted to the Photomerge capabilities of PSE 2, including photomerging a collage.

With the photographer in mind, Mr. Aaland shows you how to add a photo credit, use type as headline or fill type with an image. You’ll learn how to add additional effects to type, warp it, liquefy it, and even shape it. Chapter 10 will bring you to the lessons you need to learn to prepare images for the Web, including design components such as navigational graphics, backgrounds and photo galleries. The final two chapters of the book deal with understanding JPEGs, saving and emailing, compression and conversion of GIFs to JPEGs, and using desktop printers and other photography services. The appendix that is included in the book covers Layers, Effects, Selection Tools, Viewing and Navigation Tools, Brushes, Filters and Liquify Filters.

When you also consider the CD that comes with the book, which includes practice images, filters, demos of applications and utilities, and even a demo of a Photoshop Learning Studio, this book is well worth the cost. (Note- the original edition of this book had a CD which caused some problems for users of OS X. Sybex has corrected those problems and the new CD now works properly with OS 9 and X)

You can’t go wrong with Mikkel when it comes to working with digital imagery. Highly recommended.

MacMice Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Photoshop Elements 2: The Complete Reference
By Ken Milburn and Gene Hirsh

ISBN 0-07-222475-4, 767 pages
$39.99 US, $59.95 CN

Both Ken Milburn and Gene Hirsh have set out to provide the users of Photoshop Elements 2 with the most complete reference guide that can be found. The book is designed for beginners, Photoshop and Photoshop Elements 2 users, and those who are already familiar with image editing.

What they have produced is a guide that covers PSE 2 from A to Z, for both the PC and Mac user. They start off the book by covering the installation of PSE 2 onto both computer systems, setting up and calibrating monitors and explaining what PSE 2 does best. They cover all aspects as they continue their journey through Elements; from contact sheets, picture packages, plug-ins and scratch disks, palettes, the File Browser, Tools and the Toolbox, Recipes, Selections and Blending. They deal with Collecting, Cataloging and Managing Images, Correcting Exposures, Contrast and Color Balance, Retouching and Repairing and Filter Effects.

As they take you through Elements, they don’t just continue paragraph after paragraph. They do an excellent job of providing the reader with NOTE boxes, bringing up points to be remembered and useful suggestions. TIPS buttons also provide the reader with items to be used during the use of Elements. The graphics that are included cover both Windows and Mac views, along with the commands that are used in both systems. The one thing that needs to be understood is that they have covered every command, tool, recipe, filter and item that is part of Elements 2.

They cover transferring images from your camera, scanning and card/disk readers. They explain File types, such as PSD, TIFF, JPEG and GIF, the four most universal types that are used. They emphasize saving the original file, saving as, proper file formats, strategies and Interpolation. They provide the reader with images and work their way through to the completed task. They show examples of each filter, special effects, text and shapes. I went through the entire book and tried to find something that they may have missed or overlooked within PSE 2… they didn’t miss a thing. Need to prepare your images for publication on the Web, have no fear; it’s in the book. Dithering, lighting effects, texture fill, tracing, sketching and brushes; it’s all there.

The book is a complete reference guide for PSE 2 users. If you want to know about every aspect, tool, filter or use for PSE 2, it’s in the book. If you’re looking to know everything that there is to know about PSE 2, then run out and get yourself this book. My only complaint about the book was the fact that the color section was very small but the images included in it were so compelling, I wanted more.

All in all, The Complete Reference is an outstanding book for users of PSE 2. Highly recommended.

MacMice Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Russ Walkowich

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