I love photography, and not just any type of photography either. My favorites are those difficult to capture moments that would otherwise slip away without a trace taking the stories with them. As is the nature of photographing live subjects, I’ve found that my victims of choice are faster than my shutter speed and these photo ops are oft times in rooms with less than ideal lighting. By the time I’ve adjusted the settings on my camera and staged the scene for a better shot I’m standing alone in the room with my camera and they’re off making a mess upstairs.
So, I’ve learned to take pictures as fast as my shutter can go and cross my fingers that Adobe Photoshop Elements can do the rest. It usually does.
Reason #1: It’s Not Rocket Science
I admit the idea of Photoshop can be intimidating, especially with those just beginning to dip their toes in the world of editing software. But guess what? That’s why I started with Photoshop Elements. We aren’t speaking about the full Creative Suite that professionals buy for $700-$1000. That program is overkill for anyone who doesn’t do this as a profession, or for anyone who shoots in jpeg.
We are talking about CS6’s younger sibling, Photoshop Elements 12 (referred to as: PSE). You can download a Photoshop Elements free trial here. And once you decide you want to keep it, it retails for $99.
Elements is ideal for everyone from novices to avid amateurs like me. PSE 12 gives you most of the same tools without all the crazy extras that you never wanted or needed and would probably confuse you anyway. The perfect starting place for someone who would like to get into post processing, or someone who is already into post processing and wants more control, more options, and more freedom to be creative.
Nevertheless, when people ask what post processing software I use and my answer includes “Adobe” and “Photoshop” people often respond with large round eyes, Gasp! Some even assume I have a decade of photo editing experience under my belt or possibly a post processing degree, if such a thing exists. As loathe as I am to dispel the impression that I am more amazing than I am in reality, it must be done. If only to cut down on requests to do other people’s photo editing for them, because anybody can learn to use Photoshop Elements.
Reason #2: There’s Plenty of Room for Your Skills to Grow and Keep on Growing
I’ve been using PSE regularly for roughly three years and I’m still discovering new ways to use tools; easier and better ways to go about creating different effects. Happened today, in fact–and the day before. How can this be? How can one program cover such a large spectrum of skill levels, you ask?
It’s because PSE has three different work spaces. The Quick edits panel will give you choices similar to what you might find at a photo printing kiosk at Wal-Mart, but more refined. These basic tools and their options ease you into the use of the second panel.
The Guided panel will give you yet more filter and effect options. It helps you use them to customize your photo in a step by step process. And since you’re aiming to graduate to the Expert panel some day, you can toggle back and forth between the Guided panel and the Expert panel as you process your photo, because the Expert panel will show you the layers and tools that are being used from the Guided panel to create those effects.
And finally there’s the Expert panel where you’ll find a pallet of tools at your disposal that make all of the things from the previous panels possible and more. Much, much more. Once you understand how the tools work you can create anything you can imagine up. Seriously.
Reason #3: I Can Create My Own Greeting Cards, Calendars, Photo Books, Random Creations, Collages, and Whatever Else I Want to
After you take one point two million pictures of that family vacation, the trick-or-treaters, or the first day of kindergarten, what happens to all those pictures? Ninety-nine percent are laid to rest on the cloud drive, the other one percent might take a jaunt on Instagram before floating off into oblivion, where at least there will be plenty of company. This was the case for my pictures before I discovered how easy and varied the options are for creating memorabilia with PSE. I have made:
Random Creations–like this strange child who looked like a sad punk rock fairy, even though she should have been a happy punk rock fairy because she was in the midst of collecting pounds of candy without having to do anything to earn it besides walk a little. Okay, I admit it. She’s my kid.
I’ve also done lots of regular photo prints to frame, created family photo books and had them printed and bound into Coffee table books, made photo calendars, photo collages, and greeting cards. And they look good enough that I’m willing to give them as gifts or hang them up in my house, both of which are a big deal.
And creating these pieces of memorabilia is so much easier because of the cool tools in Photoshop Elements. Every PSE release offers new goodies previously only available in the full Creative Suite. New to PSE 12 is the ability to move people or objects in your photos super easily. The memory of having to do it before the Recomposition tool gives me the willies. Those were dark times my friends, and everybody and their grandma expected me to do it.
Another favorite is the Photomerge tool. That’s how I made this cool panorama of a sunset at our family reunion.
And now it will live on forever because it’s published on the internet, instead of lying dormant on the cloud drive.
But seriously, Photomerge makes life so much easier when someone wants you to stitch together a seamless panoramic picture, Photoshop someone absent into the shot, or to put together the perfect group photo where everyone is smiling and nobody is picking their nose. Those are always the most frequent requests, besides “Can you make me look thinner?”, which, incidentally, there’s a tool for that as well.
So there you have it, my top three reasons for using Photoshop Elements 12 for all my photo editing and memorabilia creation needs. You’ll be hearing more about it since I’ve decided to put together a few tutorials on the tools and work spaces in PSE 12 to make it easier for anyone who would like to get started. And, I should note that while Adobe gave me PSE 12 to facilitate these posts, I was not compensated in any other way and it did not affect the opinions reflected above. I have bought Photoshop Elements with my own money (several times) in the past, and would do it again in a heartbeat. Fan-girl over and out.
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I’m a technological enthusiast with a completely unrelated degree in English Literature. I’ve also been known to dabble in photography and DIY furniture refinishing, with occasional stints of fitness sprinkled among all of the above.