MacDirectory Magazine

Winter-Spring 2010 (#44)

MacDirectory magazine is the premiere creative lifestyle magazine for Apple enthusiasts featuring interviews, in-depth tech reviews, Apple news, insights, latest Apple patents, apps, market analysis, entertainment and more.

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104 MacDirectory REVIEW PHOTOSHOP ELEMENTS 8 > POWER TO YOUR PICTURES Even though it comes from one of the Mac platform's most brilliant and prolific developers, Photoshop Elements is a program that never ceases to amaze. Version 8 manages to combine convenience, simplicity and flexibility with a generous handful of features that are nothing short of magical. Elements 8 inherited some of the new super-smart features from Adobe's high-end Photoshop CS4, yet retains the simplicity and ease of use that make the program a benevolent gateway into the realm of digital photography. Elements 8 can work with iPhoto, but with some of its new features and access to (your online photo album), you may find Elements becoming your home base for imaging. Elements 8 includes the full version of Adobe Bridge and it's one of Elements' most useful "features." Bridge lets you sift through, rate, organize and reject the duds from your shoots with extraordinary ease. (Don't be too quick with the Trash Can trigger; in a little bit you'll see how, in Elements, two wrongs can sometimes make a right.) One of Bridge's best features is that it's a library. Unlike iPhoto, it doesn't copy your images into the bowels of your home folder. You get to keep your media stored where you want. Even though it lacks many of the "smart" features for organizing photos found in the latest release of iPhoto, it provides the freedom to do things your way. Bridge will let you open your photos directly in Elements, where you'll discover that Elements 8 continues Adobe's tradition of giving you as much or as little help as you desire. Quick Edit mode will show you a grid of examples of different settings you may not be familiar with (color temperature, color and exposure levels, etc.). Guided Edit will give you easy-to- understand instructions about how these changes will work, while Full Edit mode will let you loose on all the options. Controlling Light and Space PhotoMerge is a unique technology that lets you create a virtually perfect image from two or more rather imperfect originals (remember the hint about not trashing your out-takes too quickly?). PhotoMerge essentially layers and blends two or more similar images, letting you use the best elements from one in another. The effect can be truly spectacular for group shots or when you make use of a camera's built in "bracketing" feature to combine several images into one perfect exposure. You choose what you want to do with a simple pencil and eraser and the program does all the really hard work. It may take a few tries to communicate exactly what you're looking for, but the results can be startlingly good. Smart Scaling is another bit of magic that Elements can conjure. It's ideal for those times when you have something great going on at either edge of the frame, but nothing but dead space in between. With a couple of mouse-strokes, you tell Elements what you want to keep whole and then, when you squeeze the image, their proportions remain the same while the space in between amazingly shrinks. The effect now works in both the vertical and horizontal planes. Sharing your images is as much fun as creating them and for this, Elements 8 has added several enhancements. You now have more options to create digital scrapbooks, create stylized frames and borders around your pictures as well as more options for turning a collection into beautiful galleries and picture pages. You can even upload your Web gallery directly to your Web site or Photoshop Elements 8 retains the distinction of being one of the most amazing bargains in the realm of retail software. If you not only like to take pictures, but enjoy a bit of playing around, fine tuning and sharing your work with your friends, and family, Photoshop Elements is a must-have for either first- timers or fans of its earlier versions. WORDS BY RIC GETTER Product Photoshop Elements 8 Made by Adobe Systems Price $99 (retail, with significant discounts often available) Pros Many new features yet still easy to use Cons Like most new Adobe programs, online help requires Internet access Rating ★★★★★

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