Tricks Of The Imagery Trade: Flex Your Photo Editing Muscles

Jennifer Foy has over 12 years of experience using Adobe Photoshop. She has received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Communications from the Ringling School of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida. Her years of teaching experience include numerous software and design classes in Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, QuarkXPress, Freehand and InDesign for Colleges in Atlanta, Georgia; and Louisville, Kentucky. Jennifer is currently working as the Creative Director and Universal Woods with the Unisub and Chromaluxe brands. Jennifer can be reached by email at jenniferf@unisub.com

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Everyone is an amateur photographer nowadays, with digital cameras being easy to use and affordable. This translates to a higher percentage of your clients supplying you with a photo for their next custom gift. The list of photo gift products available on the market grows every day. This is a great chance to increase your income with minimal spending.

A need comes with this increased demand for being able to handle photographs, whether cleaning, adjusting color, sharpening or further manipulating the images to look great on the products you provide. I know you don’t have the time, patience or finances (especially in these times) for learning and using Adobe Photoshop.

The answer to your sleepless nights is here with Adobe’s recently released Photoshop Elements version 7. There is an affordable pixel manipulation program out there that can assist even the most non-technical savvy new users to get the job done you need in a matter of minutes.

The Low Down

The software borrows the essentials from big brother Photoshop without a lot of the bells and whistles (that many people don’t use anyway). This simplified version gets to the core of what many users need in just a click or two. One streamlined toolbar and a workspace that adjusts depending on what tools you are using and how you are using them are just some of the benefits to Elements. The workspace can be adjusted from a bright white to a dark charcoal for a users own personal visual preference.

All the standard adjust tools for brightness, contrast, highlights and shadows, and other color or image adjustments have been simplified for users. A version of the Variations dialog box, from Photoshop, can be used to correct color balance and brightness in photos.

The new Scene Cleaner tool allows users to easily remove unwanted items from a background. For example, your customer would like you to remove from an image the person wearing a speedo who is walking in the background of the family’s beach vacation photo. Scene Cleaner can help you do even that job in a few clicks.

Smart Brush tools can help you whiten teeth as well as improve contrast, or dull a selected area of an image. Users can customize the brush sizes, spacing and edge hardness of their tools for the right image manipulation.

Photomerge is a function that allows for multiple photos to be used together to create the perfect one. This is great for when your client hands you two (or more) photos of a group shot where one person has their eyes closed and in another photo, a different person isn’t smiling. Those photos where you wish you could just merge a few together for that final great one.

Photomerge allows you to quickly infuse these photos together for the perfect shot. This tool can not only save the project but also cut down the time spent to minutes or seconds instead of hours for image manipulation.

Swaying between beginners and seasoned users, there are three levels of photo-editing capabilities offered. These are Full Edit, Quick Edit and Guided Editing modes. Users can jump between the levels by clicking on the offered tabs. Once you’ve spent a little bit of time, you’ll become familiar with which options are available at the different levels.

The Full Edit mode offers more advanced controls that are similar to Photoshop. The Quick Edit includes more of the common manipulation edits, including saturation, brightness, color balance, sharpening and red-eye reduction—all at your fingertips. The Guided Editing is for the novice user. You’ll find text-based
guidelines that you can select to walk a user through.

The Guided Editing will show you how to use a specific tool or walk through a specific process. Guided Editing can be useful to people just getting into a pixel-pushing program or help answer questions for experienced Photoshop users who are new to the program.

Extra Benefits And Costs

The difference between version 6 and 7 is not dramatic, but the addition of the opportunity of the Photoshop.com plus membership may fulfill some other needs for you. Users of this new version will have an option to sign up for a one-year membership on Photoshop.com.

Helpful templates and tutorials are all available exclusively to members. Another benefit is the 20GB storage access available online for images. The membership also allows for online photo sharing and organizing in new creative ways that work great when wanting to share images with friends and family. The basic membership to Photoshop.com is free and includes 2 GB of online storage. Templates and tutorials are not available with the basic membership.

The Plus membership price is $49.99 when purchased separately. At press time, a few online searches revealed that version 6 was still available for purchase. Be careful when purchasing older versions of a program to ensure that you will be able to upgrade in the future and not be stuck behind the times with your purchase in two years.

This program is also known as Photoshop “Lite”, and that lends itself additionally to the huge price difference between Elements and the full-fledged version of Photoshop. Elements version 7, with Photoshop Plus membership, sells for $139.99 US. The upgrade with Photoshop plus membership is $119; the upgrade alone sells for $79.99. Version 7 is not available as a new purchase without the online membership.

If you would like to become a Plus member on Photoshop.com without purchasing software, the cost is $49.99 online. Elements is available at Best Buy, Adobe.com and Amazon. Please review the system requirements shown before purchasing the software to insure the optimal computer environment.

Adobe Photoshop® Elements® is a great image editor and organizer that can make it in today’s tight budget economy. To download a free 30 trial, visit www.adobe.com/downloads. Visit www.adobe.com for more information.