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Elements 7 offers four different areas in which to edit your photos. The main difference between these editing features is the level of automation that each one offers. The simplest and the most automatic of all is the Fix panel here in the Organizer. This is the only one of the editing spaces that's located inside the Organizer; the others are in the Editor workspace. The Fix panel contains a handful of one click auto functions that are designed to fix the most common photo problems like color and contrast and sharpening.
The location of this panel in the Organizer and its automatic nature, make it the perfect place to go if you are new to Elements or when you are dealing with snapshots or you are in a hurry and you just want to quickly improve the look of a photo without using manual controls. Let's see how it works. I'm working in the 05_01-fix sub-folder in the Chapter 05 Exercise Files folder and I have clicked on orchid.jpg to select that photo. I'm going to collapse the folder location column here by dragging it to the left and then I'm going to zoom in on this photo, so that we can see it better. Then I'll go over to the Fix tab in the Task panel on the right and I'm going to try the very first fix here, Auto Smart Fix.
In just the blink of an eye, Auto Smart Fix has analyzed the color and tones in this photo and it has adjusted it in terms of brightness, contrast and color, all in one step. 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. If you like these results, you don't even have to worry about saving them because the Fix feature automatically saves the edited version of your photo, let me show you. Notice that this photo now has a blue icon on the top-right and this indicates that it is a part of a Version Set. Version Set means a collection of different versions of this photo, so we have an original version and we have an edited version here. Notice also there is now a gray box around the entire photo, another indicator that it is part of a Version Set.
I'm now going to zoom out a bit, so we can see that better and then I'm going to go to the right side of that gray box and click the arrow and that expands the Version Set and shows me the edited version on the left and the original version on the right. The edited version has been automatically saved into this Version Set, so you don't have to bother saving manually. I happen to have the file name feature enabled, so I can also see that the edited file has a different name from the original file. Now if you don't like the result, all you have to do is undo and for that I'm going to the Edit menu at the top of the screen and choosing Undo Auto Smart Fix. You will use the Undo command a lot in Elements, so it's worth memorizing its shortcut, which is Ctrl+Z.
That eliminated the edited version of the file, so we only have the original in the Photo Browser. Let's try another of the buttons in the Fix panel, we will try Auto Color and Elements automatically tries to neutralize any color cast in the photo. This particular photo doesn't have much of a color cast, so you don't see much of a change. Typically a color cast is something like a greenish cast that comes from fluorescent lights in a room or perhaps a bluish casts on something like white snow under a bright sky. But here we don't really have a color cast problem, so Auto Color hasn't done much and so we are just going to undo that change, by pressing the Ctrl key on the keyboard with the Z key.
Now we will go on and try Auto Levels. I'm going to click Auto Levels and you can quickly see this change. And if I want to compare to the original photo, again I'll go to the Version Set and click the arrow on the right side of the photo there to see the difference between the edited version with Auto Levels applied and the original. I really like this change; I think this is a good change. What Auto Levels has done, is adjust the contrast in this photo, expanding the range of tones by making the whites whiter, the darks darker and spreading out the midtones in between.
Level sometimes has an effect on color too, so sometimes it may be preferable to use Auto Contrast here instead of Auto Levels, which does almost the same thing except for it has no effect on color. I'm going to skip showing you Auto Sharpen right now because sharpening is usually the last thing that you do in your photo workflow because of the results of sharpening vary depending on what other edits you have applied to a photo. We will skip Auto Red Eye Fix too 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 peoples' eyes when you take their photo with a flash and we will be looking at Red Eye Fix in another movie. Now let's take a look at the Crop tool.
I would like to crop the adjusted version of this photo, so I'm going to make sure that that one is selected here in the Photo Browser and then I'll press Crop. In the Crop Photo dialog box you see a bounding box that defines the area that will be the cropped photo. You can just click and drag on anyone of these anchor points to change the location and size of this bounding box or you can go over to the Aspect Ration menu and choose to constrain the proportions of the bounding box. If you go down to the bottom of that menu, you see that you can choose a Custom Ratio. I'm going to do that and that allows me to type in my own ratios. So I would like this bounding box to be 3 units by 2 units and I say units because it's not necessarily inches or pixels, it's just a ratio. Then I'll come over and click in the photo and that adjusts that bounding box to the 3 by 2 ratio.
Now I can move that bounding box wherever I want it by clicking and dragging in the center and I can adjust the size of the box retaining that 3 by 2 ratio. When I'm done, I click the green check mark here and that crops the photo. In this dialog box we have nice feature the, View menu. I can choose from there to view either the Before photo, the original, the After photo, which is the cropped photo, or both to compare them.
Let's try that and now you can see the original on the left and the cropped photo on the right. I'm going to accept this crop, so I'm just going to click OK at the bottom. Now the edited version not only has the Auto Levels feature applied to it but also the Crop and the last thing I would do here, is to Sharpen the photo. So I'll make sure that the edited version is selected in the Photo Browser, go over to Auto Sharpen and in the blink of an eye that photo has been sharpened. There is one last feature to show you here and that's at the bottom of the Fix panel where you see these three buttons, Quick Fix, Full Edit and Guided Edit.
These are jumps to other editing areas in Elements, these are the three editing spaces that are in the Elements Editor and we will be looking at each of these in details in other movies. And finally there is a button that says More Options and if you click that, you have a button that allows you to edit your photo in another program if you wish. Clicking there opens the Preferences dialog box where you can customize which external editing application you are going to use. So if you have Adobe Photoshop or may be Adobe Illustrator or Adobe Fireworks or some other digital imaging program, you can specify that program on your computer as the external editor.
I'm going to cancel out of there and that completes our tour of the first of the editing workspaces in Elements, the Fix panel in the Organizer. You can see that the auto controls here are a real time saver. They may give you a result you like but there is no guarantee of that and there is no real way for you to control the outcome. So if you want more control over your photo edits or if you don't like the results that you are getting here, use one of the other editing features, Quick Fix, Guided Edit or Full Edit. That's what we will learn to do next.
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