Download and Install Elements 8
Photoshop Elements 8 is the latest version of the consumer-level photo-editing software based on the Adobe Photoshop program. It offers image-editing capabilities ranging from simple quick fixes to complex creative effects. Adobe makes Photoshop Elements 8 available for both Windows and Mac platforms through brick-and-mortar retail channels and online. Also available is Premiere Elements 8, a consumer-level video-editing software package, as well a less-expensive version of these two programs.
Normally selling for $99.99, a promotional price of $79.99 is available from the Adobe Website in December. You can also download a fully functional 30-day trial version from this site, for which you can later purchase a license for the above price.
To download the trial version, create an Adobe membership and follow the instructions provided. Unzip the downloaded archive and then double-click the installation executable to start the process. In Windows 7 or Vista, you may need to specify administrative credentials to proceed with the installation.
Once you've completed the installation, double-click the desktop shortcut to start the program. You will be presented with a Welcome screen from which you can access several tutorials or go directly to the Organizer or the Editor. We will discuss the features of the Organizer first, and then those of the Editor.
The Photoshop Elements 8 Organizer Interface
The Organizer lets you view all images you have uploaded from your digital camera, scanner, or other device to your computer, so you can then perform many simple operations on these images, which we will describe below. It displays thumbnails of available images, while double-clicking any thumbnail will reveal a larger preview. Available features on the Organizer interface include the following:
- Search–Enables you to locate photos according to tags, file names, or other image properties;
- Image size–This slider enables you to adjust the size of the thumbnails displayed on the interface;
- Full Screen–Displays one image at full-screen size and offers access to the Quick Edit panel that provides quick image fixes described below, as well as a Quick Organize panel that lets you add tags and place images into albums. You can also run a quick slide show from Full Screen mode.
- Details–Displays dates and tags for each image;
- Organize–Provides several functions that allow you to create albums of your images or several types of tags;
- Fix–Provides several quick photo-editing options;
- Create–Enables you to create various types of projects with your images including photo books, calendars, collages, slide shows, DVDs, and others;
- Share–Provides several online-sharing options.
From the menu bar at top, you can also access a complete Help function by pressing Help.
Creating Keyword Tags
Keyword tags are simple descriptors that you can apply to each image such as people, places, events, or things, enabling you to search your library of photos for specific images at a later date. To create a tag, select the image and then type the desired keyword in the text box at "keyword tags." Then click Apply. Once you have created a keyword in this fashion, it is available from this text box and you can use it to tag additional photos. In the thumbnail view, select and then shift-click another image to select a continuous set of pictures for tagging. You can also ctrl-click images to select individual pictures. Then select the desired tag as described here. You can repeat this procedure on the same images as often as desired for creating additional tags.
As you tag your images, Photoshop Elements creates what is called a "tag cloud," which is visible when you click the "T" icon in the Keywords section of the Organizer. This shows all keywords that you have used in a type size that increases according to the number of tagged images.
You can use the tag cloud keywords to quickly locate your tagged images. Simply select the desired tag from the tag cloud and Photoshop Elements rapidly locates all images with the selected tag. You can also type the desired tag in the Search text box. It's as simple as that.
The Auto Analyzer: Smart Tagging
The “auto-analyzer” is a new feature of Photoshop Elements 8 that automatically analyzes the images in your library and applies keywords called smart tags that identify qualities in the images such as blurred, in focus, too dark, or too light. A series of face tags is also included, such as close-up, one face, small group, large group, and so on.
You can enable the Auto Analyzer feature to run automatically. Select Edit > Preferences > Auto-Analyzer Options to bring up the dialog box shown. Select the Analyze All Media in the Catalog Automatically option, select the desired filters from the list provided, and then click OK. If requested, enter your email address and then click OK, and Photoshop Elements will apply the smart tags to the images in your catalog.
You can also apply smart tags manually, by using the same procedure already mentioned for creating keyword tags. Simply select the desired smart tag from the list at "keyword tags."
People Recognition Tags
Photoshop Elements 7 included the Find Faces for Tagging command that locates faces in selected images for tagging. Photoshop Elements 8 enhances the concept of tagging people by introducing the People Recognition Tags feature.
This new feature automatically locates images of specific persons once you have identified a given individual in any photo in your catalog. Select an image and click the person icon (second-to-last icon under Keyword Tags). Photoshop Elements recognizes the face and asks you to provide a name. Type the person's name in the “Who is This?” box and click Done. Photoshop Elements searches your catalog and locates additional photos of the same person. It also adds the person to the tag cloud already described, so that you can locate all images of this person by clicking the name.
The Quick Organize Panel
From the Display icon, select either View, Edit, Organize in Full Screen, or Compare Photos Side by Side to display the Quick Organize Panel. This panel has two sections: the Albums section, which displays a list of albums you've created, and highlights albums, in which the displayed image has been placed. The Keyword Tags section uses the Tag Cloud view already described to display a list of tags, highlighting tags associated with the displayed image.
You can add the displayed image to an existing album by clicking the album name, or you can add a tag to the displayed image by clicking the tag. In both cases, the added item becomes highlighted. You can also create and apply a new tag to the image. Type the tag name in the Tag Media text box and click the "+" icon. The tag is added to the tag cloud and is highlighted.
The Quick Edit Panel
You can display the Quick Edit panel by following the same procedure on the previous page for the Quick Organize panel. This panel provides the following quick fixes for the displayed image:
- Rotate–Rotates the image left or right;
- Auto Smart Fix–Improves problems in exposure, contrast, color balance, and color saturation;
- Auto Color–Improves color saturation and balance;
- Auto Levels–Improves tonal range (bright to dark);
- Auto Contrast–Improves image contrast without affecting colors;
- Auto Sharpen–Improves image sharpness for enhancing small details;
- Auto Red Eye Fix–Removes redeye caused by flash reflecting off subjects' retinas;
- Edit Photos–Opens the image in the Photoshop Elements Editor;
- Edit Videos–Opens Premiere Elements if this program is installed. Otherwise displays a message box inviting you to download and install the program.
Buttons are also included for undoing or redoing an action, deleting the image, or marking it for printing.
These actions are also available from the Fix tab of the main Organizer window. This tab also enables you to crop the selected image–a Crop Photo dialog box is displayed with a bounding rectangle so you can achieve the desired crop.
Creating and Sharing Albums
An album is a specialized container that enables you to group and share images with a common theme. In the Albums section of the Organizer, type a name and optional category for your album, and then drag the desired images into the Content field.
You can share your album in one of four ways, or choose not to share the album. The sharing options include the following:
· Photoshop Showcase–enables you to share your album online through Photoshop.com’s U.S. Website or in the Adobe Photoshop Services online-sharing service outside the United States. A wizard enables you to log in to your existing account or create a new account if none exists.
· Export to CD/DVD–copies to a disc in the specified drive. Prompts for a disc name;
· Export to FTP–utilizes file transfer protocol (FTP) to upload the images to a Web location. Prompts for the server address, username, password, and name of the folder to be created;
· Export to Hard Disk–exports to a disk and folder that you specify.
Synchronizing Albums Between Computers
In the days of film photography, you had a negative or slide that held each important image. Nowadays, digital images are simply electronic files on a disk somewhere, and if the disk becomes damaged or destroyed, the images on it are gone forever. Adobe enables you to back up your precious images to the Photoshop.com Website and synchronize them to another computer such as a laptop or work PC.
To share images, click the Synchronize icon at the bottom of the Organizer interface and log in with your Photoshop.com account or create a new account. Select either of the Yes buttons to activate the backup/synchronization process, and then select the albums to be uploaded to Photoshop.com. By logging onto your account from another computer running Photoshop Elements 8, synchronized images are automatically copied to this computer. You can check the status of synchronization from the Backup/Synchronization status dialog box.
When you create a new album, you can choose to automatically synchronize it. This album is automatically uploaded to Photoshop.com and is available when you connect to your account from another computer. Changes to albums and images are also automatically synchronized, or you can force synchronization by clicking the Sync Now button.
Unfortunately, this synchronization function is available only to users residing in the United States.
Creating Slide Shows
Photoshop Elements enables you to create slide shows with customized graphics, music, captions, and even audio narration. This is a great way to share your images with others and is completely unlike the old-fashioned way when slides are displayed with a carousel and a projector. You can save the slide show on a DVD or as a PDF file or post it online. Select the images to be included, and then click Slide Show from the Create tab of the Organizer.
Compared to previous versions, Photoshop Elements 8 has enhanced the ability to include custom transitions. Click the Transitions drop-down list and select customized transitions as desired. When you click OK, the Slide Show Editor window appears. This window enables you to add extras including music, captions, and special effects. It can also be used to modify the properties of each transition. You can also modify the sequence and duration of each image and add music tracks. You can then preview the show and modify it as desired. When you are finished, click Save Project and provide a name for the show project. This enables you to work on the show again at a later time. Then click Output to save the file as a WMV movie or PDF file or video CD. You can also send it to a TV for immediate viewing.
The Photoshop Elements 8 Editor Interface
The Editor is a full-fledged photo-editing application that enables you to perform all available image-editing tasks. You can open it directly from the Welcome screen, or you can open an image from the Organizer by clicking Edit Photos from the Fix submenu.
In the pages to follow, we will concentrate on the new features of Photoshop Elements 8. On this page, we present a quick description of the components of the Editor. To the left of the image being edited is the toolbar, which enables you to select the various tools. Options relevant to the selected tool are found in the Options bar directly above the image and beneath the menu bar.
Beneath the image is a bin area showing thumbnails of open images or images from a selected album, and to the right of the image are the palettes. By default, you can see the Effects palette, which enables you to apply artistic effects, and the Layers palette, which shows layers in your image (which are sort of like sheets of acetate overlaid above a paper print).
Above the palettes are three tabs, originally introduced in version 7. The Edit tab allows you to perform all available edits or choose quick fixes or be guided in performing common editing procedures. Also present are the Create and Share tabs, which perform the same actions as the corresponding tabs in the Organizer.
The Photomerge Scene Cleaner
How many times have you tried to photograph a scene, only to have people wander into it or cars drive through? In Photoshop Elements 8, the Photomerge Scene Cleaner enables you to remove unwanted elements from your images, assuming you have taken more than one photo of the scene.
Simply open two or more images of the same scene in the Editor. Access the Guided Edit section of the Edit tab and choose Photomerge Scene Cleaner. As shown, the palette area displays easy-to-follow instructions that enable you to preserve desired elements and remove unwanted ones. Simply use the Pencil and Eraser tools to select items to be included or removed as described, and use additional photos as desired until you have a cleaned-up scene.
Quick and Easy Selections
Perhaps you might want to edit only part of an image–for example, you might want to change the color of a flower or someone's clothing without changing other items in the image. Photoshop Elements 8 provides the Quick Selection tool that enables you to make a quick and easy selection of the picture element you want to modify. Grab this tool and drag it across the item to be edited. If you select too much area, hold down Alt and drag over the area you do not want. You can then make any modification you want to the selected area. To change the color, for example, adjust the hue and saturation sliders in the Color area of the Quick Fix tab.
Creating Perfect Group Shots
It's only human nature that people do something when you're trying to capture that perfect group shot. You try and someone’s eyes are closed. So you try again and someone else is distracted and looks off in another direction. Then another person is doing something else. Photoshop Elements 8 offers a solution called Photomerge Group Shot that enables you to combine individuals from different shots and then group them together in a single image.
To use Photomerge Group Shot, first select the images you want to use, then choose Photomerge Group Shot from the Guided Edit section of the Edit tab. Simply follow the instructions displayed in the palette area, using the Pencil tool to draw a line over picture elements to be merged into the main photo and the Eraser tool to correct errors after using the Pencil option.
Recomposing Photos without Distortion
New to Photoshop Elements 8 is the ability to recompose images to any desired size without distorting key components. Here, the baby wild pig is separated from its mother by uninteresting blank space. Select the Recompose tool (it's hidden under the Crop tool). Mark items to be retained using the green Protect marker found in the options bar, and mark items to be removed using the red Remove marker. Use the eraser from the options bar if you mark any areas incorrectly. Then drag one of the side handles inward until you obtain the desired composition. Click the green check mark and your changes are applied. This is another example of a very simple quick-fix feature!
The Photomerge Exposure Tool
Suppose you want to take a picture of someone posing against a floodlit background at night. You turn your flash on and take the shot, while only the background is very dim. So you try another shot with the flash turned off.
Now the background is well exposed and only your subject is dark. What to do next? New to Photoshop Elements 8, Photomerge Exposure blends these two images to get the shot you wanted to begin with. Simply bring the two images into the Editor and select Photomerge Exposure from the list under Guided Edit. Select Automatic to have Photomerge Exposure try to blend the images automatically, or Manual to control the procedure yourself. Use the pencil tool provided to select properly exposed areas in each image. If necessary, use the Transparency slider to fine tune the blending of the two images, and/or select the Edge Blending option to smooth the blending of the image edges. You now have the best of both images together.
Photoshop Elements 8 offers an enhanced number of creative options that you can access from the Create tab in either the Organizer or the Editor. Shown are some of the options available for creating a photo collage. A comprehensive set of layouts, backgrounds, and clip art images are available for inclusion in a photo collage, and all options can be customized as you desire.
We have already mentioned the Slide Show option available in this tab. Also available are online options for creating photo books, greeting cards, photo calendars, and photo prints, as well as instant movies, DVDs with menus, and more options.
Another way to explore your creativity is in the Effects panel, which is visible when you select the Edit Full tab. Photoshop Elements 8 sports an increased number of effects, which are the same as the filters found in Photoshop CS4. Select a desired effect and experiment with the settings.
Sharing Your Photos Online and More
We have already touched upon several sharing options, while Photoshop Elements 8 includes additional options that are available from the Share tab in either the Organizer or the Editor. These options have been enhanced in Photoshop Elements 8 so files can be shared with mobile phones and players, Blu-ray discs, and online photo galleries.