Fundamentals of Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 DVD – Review

Fundamentals of Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 DVD
With Sue Jenkins

Company: Class on Demand
Price: $39.95

Fundamentals of Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 is a comprehensive DVD tutorial that will provide most users with everything they’ll ever need to know about a complicated photo editing program. But take my advice: Before you plunk down $39.95, give some serious consideration to your own personality and think about how you learn.

Do you learn best by taking classes or are you more inclined to learn by trial and error? Are you patient or do you jump from one thing to another like a cricket?

How many hours a day are you willing to spend sitting in front of your computer? Consider, as one of my friends frequently reminds me, that every hour spent in Elements or any other photo editing program is an hour not spent outdoors learning to take better pictures that may not need any editing at all.

Or perhaps you’re one of those who is simply curious to know how things work. Many of them, and I include myself in this group, don’t have a pressing need to learn Photoshop Elements. Most of the time I can take halfway decent pictures and if some tweaking is needed, iPhoto is not only simpler to use but now comes with enough basic tools to make it useful.

However, Elements is far more sophisticated and offers a nearly bottomless array of possibilities for modifying pictures. Watch just one section of this Sue Jenkins’ Class on Demand, such as the one called “The Editor Overview,” and you’ll see what I mean. Photoshop is feature-rich, but it’s also like a trail that gains 2,000 feet in elevation in just a half mile. It’s steep but some users will not rest until they know whether they can make the grade, so to speak.

Jenkins is a good teacher, which is to say she knows her subject thoroughly and has the ability to communicate clearly, but if you made a list of just the basic topics she covers on this one segment, you’d end up writing a short book. We can’t fault Jenkins for the fact that Photoshop Elements is so dense and complex (It even has its own arcane vocabulary). Nor can we complain that she talks fast. Her diction is excellent, and after all, she’s trying to provide in four hours what a community college class would probably cover in a whole semester.

If you’ve decided you’re serious about learning the program, get this DVD and plan on spending at least 60 to 90 minutes a day with it. You’ll probably want to have your copy of Elements open so that you can go back and forth between the class and your own photos. Although it may seem obvious, keep in mind that if you have Mac Elements 6 or any earlier version of the program, this class is still going to be useful.

Most of what Jenkins talks about in the “Workspace Overview” and “The Organizer Overview” would be more applicable (though not entirely) to the Bridge in Elements 6, which allows easy access to your iTunes library. Elements 6 for Mac is the latest version, and its Editor is essentially identical to that of Elements 7 for Windows, which is its current version.

One of the major benefits of having the Class on Demand DVD is that you can review chapters eternally. If you really didn’t get that explanation about using what is cryptically called “adjustment layers” the first time, you can watch it repeatedly. For some purchasers, this will not seem as useful as being able to ask the instructor questions.

Sadly, however, good teachers are hard to find, so for my money it’s better to watch Jenkins repeat her explanation three times than to ask questions of someone who may not be able to explain the topic well. And besides, attending a class in the comfort of my home is a lot more convenient than driving across town to sit on metal chairs designed by Luddites.

The DVD begins with 30 seconds of obnoxious music and kids jumping up and down at a rock concert. Mercifully, you can click in the upper right hand corner and abort that nonsense. On the next screen, Jenkins recites her resume, which bored me to tears. Again, you can click and bypass it. Those caveats out of the way, I can say the class content is well organized and Jenkins is a “let’s get down to business immediately” type of teacher. Other than the narrated resume, which is brief, you won’t have to stumble over her personality to get at useful information.

Fundamentals of Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 is divided into four parts, “Introduction to Photoshop Elements,” “Working with the Organizer,” “Working with the Editor” and “Special Techniques.” The DVD comes with a file of stock photos so you don’t have to rely on your own image. In addition, each of the chapters is a hyperlink. If you feel you know enough about the basics, you can easily jump to the more advanced section. Rating: 4 out 5

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