Adobe’s Elements apps have shown the value of taking a quality software brand and providing a more affordable version for mainstream consumers. Photoshop Elements lead the way, and then Premiere Elements applied the same formula, with increasing success in each new version. Now we’ve arrived at the ninth iteration of Elements, which is the real ninth edition of Photoshop Elements, whereas Premiere Elements skipped a few in between. Nevertheless both are now extremely accomplished apps, now with even more features. This week, we look at what’s new in the photo editing half of the duo.
Photoshop Elements 9 focuses primarily on features, at least for Windows users. The Mac version has now been brought in line completely, so includes the Organizer which PC owners have enjoyed for a few versions. This media management hub provides quick ways to performing simple editing tasks, and includes automatic tagging facilities as well as direct upload to popular online sites, of which more later in this review. The Organizer is almost like an image editing app in its own right.
The new Photoshop Elements 9 features are almost entirely focused on extra effects, however. The interface has achieved a well streamlined state, so isn’t in need of significant alteration. Many of the new effects also use Adobe’s Guided Edit system, a wizard-like process which leads you through complicated tasks step by step. This takes some of the complicated capabilities of the full professional Photoshop and makes them accessible to a casual amateur, so they can create sophisticated effects without extensive image editing training.
Not every feature comes with this level of handholding assistance, however. The Spot Healing Brush Tool doesn’t, but it has been improved, and now does a decent job of removing various unwanted elements from your images. You can scrub casual passersby from your public portrait shots, and remove the blemishes from scans of old photos. Obviously, filling in detail which wasn’t originally there isn’t foolproof, and it takes a little trial and error to get right, but the Spot Healing Brush can be surprisingly effective when you’ve grasped the principles.
A newcomer is the Lomo Camera effect. This lets you create the look of the famous cameras of the same name, using the Guided Edits system to lead you through the process. The Out of Bounds effect also uses Guided Edits to help you crop your photos so that one element is escaping from the frame, such as one of your subject’s limbs. The Pop Art effect leads you through the filtering and reduplication to create the look of an Andy Warhol print. None of these are things you would do all the time, but fun nonetheless. Hence, the inclusion of these effects in the Fun Edits section, and another newcomer here is Reflection. This again uses Guided Editing to help you create its results, in this case realistic mirror images of various different types. You can simulate rippling water, glass or shiny floors, with realistic results.