Adobe’s powerful Photomerge technology has been extended with a couple of new abilities. The Style Match option detects exposure features of your photos, such as the level of contrast or a characteristic colour tone. These can be captured into a profile, which can then be applied to a new image to create a similar look. The other new Photomerge ability is an extension of the Panorama tool. When stitching multiple smaller shots together to make a bigger one, it’s no longer necessary to crop the resulting photo down to avoid missing areas, as Panorama can now fill them in, presumably using similar technology to the Spot Healing Brush.
There is a selection of enhancements to the output phase, too. Recognising the growth of social networking as a means of showing media to friends, the Photoshop Elements Organizer can now output your photo albums directly to Facebook via its Share tab. If your Elements album contains videos, these can be uploaded too, although only one at a time. You need to authorise Photoshop Elements with Facebook, but then Organizer can upload photos to new or existing Facebook albums, and configure who has access to the images.
The Create section of the Organizer has the ability to work in basic and advanced modes. In the former configuration, you simply choose the type of creation you want to put together and the photos you want to use, then Elements will populate the creation for you. In advanced mode, you can access the full Photoshop Elements feature set to adjust and customise how your images are displayed in your creation. So you can edit the images from directly within the layout, which is handy if you want to adjust your photos to fit the arrangement.
If you’re creating a framed montage, there is much more flexibility available. You can resize your photos and change the position. It’s also possible to reconfigure the layout or swap the background. The printing process has been enhanced as well, with a friendly interface giving you access to printer settings such as paper size and type or print size, rather than the basic one available from your printer’s driver.
As an added bonus for those using computers equipped with multi-touch trackpads, Photoshop Elements now has direct support for finger gestures, such as pinch to zoom and dual-finger rotating. This includes PCs as well as Macs.
Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 is not a really huge leap forward over version 8, and existing users may not find the essential feature here which makes the upgrade worthwhile, unless they’re using a Mac, in which case the Organizer’s facilities could be just what you need. But users of earlier versions than 8 have plenty of reasons to step up, and if you are currently using a more modest image editing app or nothing at all, it will be well worth the expenditure. Because, after all, Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 is an even more powerful version of the most accomplished consumer-grade image editing software on the market.