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Photoshop Elements 7 is packed with features to help amateur photographers with every stage of digital photo processing, from getting organized to sharing projects with family and friends. In Photoshop Elements 7 for Windows Essential Training, Jan Kabili shares workflow techniques for organizing, editing, creating projects, and sharing. She also demonstrates how to enhance photos with this budget-friendly software. Jan explains the latest updates to the Organizer and Editor workspaces, and also covers new features like the Smart Brush tool and Photoshop.com integration. Elements is very well known for its project features, and Jan shows how to create books, collages, panoramas, and more. Example files accompany the course.
When you are shooting photos, you will often take more than one shot of a scene to make sure that you have gotten a keeper. Rather than clutter your Organizer's Photo Browser with multiple similar photos, why not stack them one on top of the other in the Photo Browser? That helps you make space in the Photo Browser and it still allows you easy access to all similar photos at one time. Let's take a look at the Stacking feature in the Organizer. I'm working in the 02_08_stacking subfolder of the Chapter_02 exercise files and to give myself some room to work I have just double- clicked on this border between the Task pane and the Photo Browser to collapse the Task pane.
I have also made sure that I can see the file names of all my files by going up to the menu bar and making sure that Details is checked and also going to the View menu and enabling Show File Names. You will notice that in this section of the Photo Browser I have a number of files that I took at a market in Los Angeles including four photos of guitars. The guitar photos are so similar, there is really no reason to have them all showing but I don't want to delete them from my Organizer because I might still want to work with them. So I'm going to stack them together. To do that I'll select the first of the four guitar photos by clicking on it and then I'm going to hold down the Shift key and click on the last of those and that selects all in between.
Then I'm going up to the Edit menu, and down to Stack and over to Stack Selected Photos. Now instead of four guitar photos I only see one in this section. Notice that there is now a gray rectangle around that photo and a symbol on the photo that indicates that it has been stacked with other photos. There is also a little arrow to the right of this guitar photo. If I wanted to see all of the stacked photos, I could expand this stack by clicking that arrow. So, all the photos are still there. It's just like stacking a deck of cards. Once I have expanded the stack I can choose to have a different photo on the top of the stack, the photo that's showing in the Photo Browser when the stack is collapsed.
To do that, I'm going select the different photo, I'll take this vertical photo guitar6, select it go back to the Edit menu and down to Stack again and now I'm going to choose Set As Top Photo. Now I'm going to collapse the stack, and the way that you do that is from the arrow on the right side of the stack. I'll click that and the collapsed stack now shows the vertical photo on top. So this is actually a great way to edit similar photos and have just the best photo in the series showing in the Photo Browser.
It's possible to remove a photo from a stack without deleting it from your Organizer catalog. To do that, expand the stack either by clicking this arrow as I just showed you or by selecting the photo at the top of the stack. Going up to the Edit menu, down to Stack and over to Expand Photos in Stack, that's an alternative way to do the same thing, as clicking the arrow. Let's say that I didn't want to have this last photo guitar7 in the stack, I would just select it and then go back to the Edit menu, down to Stack and over to Remove Photo from Stack. Now you can see that gray rectangle around the stack doesn't include that last photo guitar7 which is still in the Organizer but not in the stack. So now if I collapse the stack from this arrow, we have our stack of three photos here and that single guitar photo on its own, still in the Photo Browser.
You can also add a photo into an existing stack. So let's say I wanted to put guitar7 back into the stack. To do that I'll select guitar7 by clicking on it and then I'll hold the Ctrl key as I click the top photo in the stack. Once again up to the Edit menu, where all the stack functions are, down to Stack and choose Stack Selected Photos. At the prompt click OK. Now all four photos are back in this stack and to prove it I'm going to expand the stack by clicking the arrow and there are the four photos back in this particular stack.
Expanding a stack like this is only temporary. If you want to unstack or stack permanently, in other words get rid of it, you do it this way. I'm going to collapse the stack. Then I'm going to click on its top photo to select Stack and from the Edit > Stack menu, this time I'm going to choose Unstack Photos. Now be careful that you don't choose Flatten Stack. That's different. If you choose to Flatten Stack, which I don't do very often, it will delete from your Organizer all of the photos in the stack except for the one on top. That's not what I want to do. I just want to get all four photos out of this stack. So I'll choose Unstack Photos.
Now I have all four of my guitar photos in the Organizer but there are no stacks. There is also an auto-stacking feature in the Organizer and you can use that to try to automatically create stacks based on the visual similarity of your photos and the time when they were taken. The auto-stacking feature appears here in the Organizer and also in the Adobe Photo Downloader that appears when you are bringing in photos from a camera or card reader. There is also an auto- stacking feature in the File > Get Photos command that you use to get photos from files, folders, or even from cameras manually as I taught you how to do in earlier lessons.
To be honest, I don't really use auto- stacking feature very often because it doesn't always get things right so I prefer stacking manually as I juts showed you how to do but let's give it a try and see how it works. I'm going to select all the photos in this particular folder by going up to the Path at the top of the Photo Browser and clicking there. Then I'm going to the Edit menu and choosing Stack > Automatically Suggest Photo Stacks and let's see how it does. Elements just come in and try to put to together all the photos in that folder into groups and if I scroll down I can see the various groups. The first group has just one photo of the blouses. The second group, again, one photo of the awnings. The third group has just one photo of the guitars. So as you can see Elements was unable to understand that the four guitar photos were similar and then I would want to have those in one stack. If I go down further you can see that the other guitar photos are all ungrouped.
So this is why I don't really like this feature I find that it doesn't work as intuitively as I would like. So instead I suggest you use the Manual Stacking features that I just showed you. I'm going to cancel out of this and I want to mention one more thing about stacking. I showed you how to use the Edit > Stack menu at the top of the screen for the various stacking functions but there actually is another way to do it. As you get more use to using Elements you may like to use shortcuts like contextual menus. All the Stack commands are also available from a contextual menu, to access that menu with multiple photos selected as they currently are all you have to do is right-click on anyone of the photos and you get a long list of possible commands. Among those Stack and the various Stacking features that we learn how to do from the Edit menu.
You might try using contextual menus throughout this course by right-clicking on photos and seeing what the menu choices are there. The Stacking feature is one that I think you are going to use often. It means you can take advantage of your digital camera to take lots and lots of shots of the same subject, maybe changing exposures or shooting from a different angle to make sure that you get the best shot. Then you can stack the similar photos in the Organizer with your best shot on top to make room in the Photo Browser and to get a good view of just the best shots in each stack.
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