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06 January 2002

Adobe Photoshop Elements

Adobe Photoshop Elements is an inexpensive version of the industry standard Photoshop 6. Elements sells for about $99 outright, or comes included along with many Epson scanners and printers. Elements is designed to be easy to use by normal people, while PS6 is intended for people who work in Photoshop all day for a living.

Elements' "Photomerge" feature is great for assembling full scans of panoramic film by making several smaller scans. Remember to allocate plenty of memory.

I have not figured out how to do drop shadows on text layers, even though the box claims it can do it. To make white text stand out over light backgrounds I used the burn tool to darken the area just behind the text.

To hide selection "marching ants" one needs to go to a drop down menu; I didn't see the keyboard command of CMD + H working in Elements as it does in PS6.

I also could not find Curves.

The "Fill Flash" levels command is great for fixing overly contrasty images with shadows that are too dark. You have to spend more time to do the same thing in PS6

I have not figured out color management in Elements. The one time I played with it to do some very powerful retouching and make a woman look 20 years younger by simply duplicating the background layer, blurring it, setting the blending mode to "Lighten" and then selecting the opacity to the desired level. and then erasing from the duplicated and blurred layer the portions I wanted to remain sharp, like her eyes and hair. After all this the color profile had evaporated from the saved scan, so I had to reassign it in PS6. Elements had no problem working with this 180 MB file on a 700 MHz Windows 2000 PC with only 384 MB of RAM.

This has shown me that Elements is a fantastic program, especially considering it is often included along with the printer you ought to have anyway. If you have full Photoshop as I usually run it can be a little confusing because of course it operates differently on purpose, so you ought to stick to just one and use the other only for when you need a unique feature one provides

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