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Photoshop Elements 8 for Windows Essential Training highlights the important features of this comprehensive image organization and photo enhancement application. Photographer Jan Kabili shows how to use Photoshop Elements to organize and edit photos, build photos into projects like slideshows and photo books, and share photos with family and friends. Jan explains how to train Photoshop Elements 8 to recognize and tag faces, use the Smart Brush for targeted adjustments, and share photos using Adobe's online service, photoshop.com. She also dives deep into the application's editing tools, which rival those of the full product, Photoshop, in their ability to take snapshots and turn them into great photos. Exercise files accompany the course.
Elements offers four different areas in which you can edit your photos. The main difference between these four editing areas is the level of automation that each one offers. The simplest and most automatic of all is the Fix panel right here in the Organizer. To access this panel, click on the Fix tab in the task pane. And by the way, if you click the arrow to the right of the Fix tab you can see the three other areas for photo editing, all of which are part of the Editor. Full Photo Edit, Quick Photo Edit and Guided Photo Edit.
But Photo Fix Options are not part of the Editor, but rather part of the Organizer. The fact that the Fix panel is in the Organizer and is so automatic, make it the perfect place to go if you're new to editing photos in Elements or when you're dealing with snapshots or you are just in a hurry and you want to quickly improve the look of a photo, without having to get into the Editor and use manual controls. I am working here in the 05_01 folder, and I'm going to click on the single photo in that folder to select it. Then I'll go over to the Fix tab in the task panel, and I'm going to click on the first of the Photo Fix Options, Auto Smart Fix.
In just the blink of an eye Auto Smart Fix has analyzed the color and tones in this photo and has adjusted the photo in terms of Brightness, Contrast, and Color all in one step. And by the way, when I talk about contrast, I mean the degree of difference between the lightest tones in an image and the darkest tones. Now if you like these results you don't even have to worry about saving the image with these changes, because the Fix feature automatically saves the edited version of a photo. Notice that this photo has a blue icon up in the top-right corner.
This indicates that an edited copy of the photo is now part of a set with the original and that set is called a version set. Notice that there's also a gray box around the entire photo. Another indicator that the copy we're looking at is part of a version set, and finally, if you look down here at the bottom-left corner, you can see from the name of the file, Orchid_ edited1, that this is an edited copy of the original orchid image. I'd like to expand the version set so that you can see the original and compare it to this edited copy.
To do that, I'm going to click this arrow right here on the right side of the gray box around the photo. I'm also going to go up to the Zoom slider and drag to the left, until I can see both copies of this image, the original on the right and the edited version with the Auto Smart Fix correction on the left. This edited version has been automatically saved into the version set. So I don't have to bother saving it manually. Let's say that you don't like the result of applying Auto Smart Fix. What can you do? In that case you can use the Undo command.
To access that I'm going to go up to the Edit menu at the top of the Organizer and I'm going to choose Undo and it tells me exactly what the step is that I'm going to be undoing. Undo Auto Smart Fix. Notice that there is a keyboard shortcut for Undo, Ctrl+Z. This is a very common shortcut, so it's one that I suggest you remember, because you'll be using it a lot. So I'll select Undo Auto Smart Fix, and you see this progress bar indicating that Elements is undoing that command. That eliminated the edited version of the file, so now the only one that shows in the Photo Browser is the original.
I would like to try another one of the Photo Fix Options on this photo. Let's see what Auto Color does. Normally Auto Color is used to try to neutralize any unwanted colorcast in the photo. This particular photo doesn't have much of a colorcast, so I don't think we're going to see much of a change when I apply this Auto Fix. Typically a colorcast is something like a greenish cast that comes from fluorescent lights in a room, or maybe a bluish cast on something like white snow under a bright sky. But here there really isn't a colorcast problem, so clicking Auto Color like this doesn't do much to this image.
So, I'm going to undo that attempt by pressing Ctrl+Z on my keyboard the shortcut for Undo. Now I'm going to go on and try the Auto Levels command in the Photo Fix Options. I'll click Auto Levels and you can immediately see a change. And I think it's a change for the better. If I want to compare the original with this edited version of the image, again I'll click the arrow on the right side of the gray rectangle around the image. Here on the right is the original. It's dark and it doesn't have any bright whites or black blacks.
And here on the left is the version with Auto Levels applied. What Auto Levels has done is adjust the contrast in the photo. Expanding the range of tones by making the whites whiter, the darks darker, and spreading out the mid-tones in between. Levels sometimes has an affect on color too. So, sometimes it may be preferable to use Auto Contrast, which is right here in the Photo Fix Options rather than Auto Levels. I'm going to skip over Auto Sharpen right now, because sharpening is generally the last thing that I do in my photo workflow, because the results of sharpening vary depending on what other edits I've already apply to photo.
I'm also going to skip Auto Redeye Fix, because there aren't any eyes in this photo and what this control is for is fixing the red glow that you sometimes see in people's eyes when you take a photo with the flash. I will be covering Redeye Fix in another movie. There's a Crop tool here that I'd like to take a look at. I would like to a crop away part of the adjusted version of this photo. So, I'm going to make sure that the adjusted version is selected here and then I'm going to click Crop. In the Crop Photo dialog box, you see a bounding box that defines the area will be the cropped photo.
I can click-and-drag on any one of these anchor points to change the shape and size of this bounding box. I'm going to do that right now. Alternatively, I could go over to the Aspect Ratio field here in the column on the right of this dialog box and click to choose a specific Aspect Ratio. I would like this bounding box to be, say, four 4x6 units. And I say units because it's not necessarily inches or pixels. It's just a ratio. So, I'll select that and that immediately adjusts the bounding box.
I could move the bounding box around, but I kind of like it where it is. So, I'm going to leave it there. And I'll click the green checkmark to crop the photo to that bounding box. In the CropPhoto column there is a feature that I really like and that's the View menu. From this menu, I can choose whether to view the Before photo, which is the original, or the After photo, which is the cropped photo, or both. I'm going to choose Before and After. And here I can compare the original photo on the left before the crop to the cropped version on the right.
I liked this change, so I'm going to accept the crop by clicking OK here at the bottom-right of this dialog box. Back in the Photo Browser, the edited version on the left has not only the Auto Levels feature applied to it, but also the crop. The last thing I would do to the edited version of the file is to sharpen it. Notice that I still have the edited version selected here. I know that because it has a blue border around it. I'll go over to the Auto Sharpen command here in the Photo Fix Options and I'll click. That causes Elements to sharpen the detail in the edited version of the photo on the left.
There is one last feature that I want to show you and that's at the bottom of the Fix panel. Here there is a link to the Editor workspace in Photoshop Elements. So if I wanted to apply more manual or sophisticated edits to this file, I could open it from here into the Full Editor workspace. And finally there's a link here that says More Options. If I click that, I get the option to edit this photo with an external editor and if I click that command the Preferences dialog box opens to the area where I can specify a supplementary editing application.
So that means that if I have a program like Adobe Photoshop or maybe Adobe Illustrator or Adobe Fireworks or some other digital imaging program, I could specify it as the external editor, and open files directly into that editor using these commands. I am going to cancel out of this dialog box and that completes this tour of the first of the four editing workspaces in Elements, the Photo Fix Options in the Fix panel in the Organizer.
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