Photoshop Elements 7 includes new tools for everything from fixing up your photos to storing and sharing your pictures online. There's so much to this new version, in fact, that knowing how to make the most of it isn't readily apparent. Photoshop Elements 7: The Missing Manual guides you through all of the program's features by explaining the way the tools and commands work, and how you can use them to your advantage.
Sneak Preview: Author Barbara Brundage’s Top 10 Elements Tips
1. It's still important to back up your photos. Elements 7 gives you a totally painless way with its related web site. Sign up for a free account and you can set your albums to automatically back themselves up to your space online. Once you set up album syncing, you don't have to think about it again. It happens automatically. If you have a computer disaster at home, just reinstall Elements on the new computer, turn on the backup/sync option, and sign in to the site, and your photos reappear on your new computer. This service has some limitations (all detailed in the book), but it's a terrific way to keep an extra copy of important photos. And you still have the regular Organizer options for backing up to CD, DVD, or a different hard drive.
2. Find a size that fits. If you've been using Elements for scrapbooking, take a look at the new file size presets available in Elements 7. There's a whole separate category for scrapbook sizes in the New File dialog box. Now you can create a 12"-, 8"-, or 6"-square sized file without having to set up a custom size.
3. On vacation? Take a private tour. If your “staycation” this year takes you to a nearby tourist spot along with everyone else in your state, you can get rid of those strangers crowding into your photos—as long as you plan ahead a little. Start by getting a series of pictures that give you enough clear spots, even if there are people you don't know meandering somewhere through every photo. Then you can combine the pictures with the Elements 7 Scene Cleaner to create an image of Aunt Esmeralda and Cousin Wilberforce standing in front of the falls all by themselves, with nobody else around.
4. Make slideshows like a pro. With Elements 7 you can share your albums with dynamite, professional-looking galleries. Create a gallery where your photos appear as a pile of old-fashioned slides. Your friends can then sort through, and click the ones they like, to see a larger view. Elements has other gallery options that let you create a virtual book where your visitors "turn" the page with the mouse. And you can host these at the related web site, burn them to a CD or DVD, or even post them on your own web site.
5. Create beautiful skin. If you like glamour-type photography, check out the new Surface blur filter to create dreamy looking skin quality. It blurs without losing edge detail: perfect for smoothing skin in portraits.
6. Make dramatic skies. If you're a beginner, try the new Quick Fix/Touch Up tool for making the sky bluer--maybe too blue (and kind of green) if truth be told. Fortunately, you can soften up the effect once you're done. Go back to Full Edit and find the Layers palette (you don't need to understand layers for this maneuver). Click once on the layer that Elements just added to your photo (it's called Blue Skies), and then go up to the top of the palette and move the opacity slider to the left. Watch your photo as you move the slider. When it looks real, you're done. (Click the bottom layer, the one called Background, before you leave the Layers palette. That way you can make more edits to your photos.) Another option: You may prefer the results you get using the Smart Brush in Full Edit, if your sky has any clouds in it. In the tool presets in the Options bar, go to Nature->Cloud Contrast and drag across the sky. Presto, your clouds really stand out!
7. Never, ever work on your original photo. If you use the Organizer, good news: Elements already has your back. It creates version sets, which save different states of your image as you edit. You can create as many different versions of a photo as you like and go back to any one of them at any time. And if you’re working with Raw files, even better news: You can't alter your original (only the conversion settings). If you don't use the Organizer, make a copy of the picture (File- >Duplicate) and work on that. This way you can always start over again if you get a better idea later on.
8. Sharing photos with the Organizer. There are all kinds of fun, creative ways to share photos in Elements 7, and the Organizer makes it super easy to explore them all. Try a slideshow with music and commentary, or upload your photos to EasyShare or one of the other online services to create mugs, bags, and other cool gift items with your photos on them.
9. Don't scorn the auto buttons. If you've never tried these one-click fixes--Auto Levels or Auto Color, for example--give ‘em a try. Each version of Elements gets a little smarter and you may find that you like the results you get from one of these easy-to-use fixes.
10. Panoramas for everyone. You don't need to feel wistful anymore about the fact that your point and shoot camera's lens doesn't have a true wide-angle setting. Take a series of photos with, ideally, about a 30 percent overlap and Elements' Photomerge will automatically stitch them together into a panorama wider than you could have captured with the widest lens. Photomerge is really amazing--it’s totally automated and it does terrific blending to eliminate visible seams between images.
Look Inside Photoshop Elements 7: The Missing Manual
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