MacDirectory Magazine

Spring-Summer 2008 (#37)

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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Page 114 of 178

114 MacDirectory REVIEW | CREATIVITY Imagine, if you will, a world-class auto- maker like Mercedes taking its design genius, engineering brilliance and manu- facturing excellence, and applying it to a vehicle that the average consumer can afford. That, in a nutshell, is what Adobe Photoshop Elements 6 is all about. Elements started out as a bargain; basically a slimmed-down version of Adobe's flagship Photoshop minus some of the features that most hobbyists would never really need. But a few versions later, the program went into a mid-life crisis of sorts, becoming a very different product with a much different (and, in a way, more PC-like) look and feel. Photoshop Elements 6, however, represents a very new gener- ation that has quite successfully merged some of the best interface elements of both Photoshop and Lightroom into a product that is remarkably powerful, yet extremely friendly. Like Lightroom, Elements takes a workflow-oriented approach, with three basic modes, Create, Edit and Share. Edit is where you'll be spending most of your time and is designed to benefit users of all levels (in fact, it will help an ambitious beginner learn the more advanced tools). In the Guided mode, Elements presents a list of basic tasks such as cropping, removing a color tint or cleaning up scratches and blemishes. With simple sliders and a tool or two, Elements will walk you through the process of improving and refining the picture. Quick mode will set you up with all the basic color and imaging controls in a sidebar and add a couple of more options to the toolbar on the left. "Full" opens up all of Elements features with a full toolbar and filter, layer and effects palettes on the right. At this point, the program takes on a look and feel that's closer to Photoshop than Lightroom. A Raw Deal There are a host of new features for photographers wanting to take their work to a new level. Once again, many of these have been generously handed down from Photoshop and Lightroom. First off, Elements offers expanded support for Camera Raw format, which is an image- capture option on most digital SLRs. This is as close as a digital photographer can come to working with a film negative. Even though the interface has been slimmed-down from the program's pro counterparts, it retains enough power for the advanced amateur. Elements 6 offers greatly improved control over the process of fine-tuning the conversion of a color image to black and white, including several new presets. Finally, the program adds a simplified version of the curves tool for enhanced tone and contrast control. Like many of the other adjustments, the interface provides a useful before-and- after display, letting you preview the changes before you commit. The real magic comes into play with the smart tools ("brilliant" would be a better word) that have been pulled in from Photoshop CS3. Photomerge is a remarkable process where the program automatically overlays or stitches together images. The real magic happens with the ingenious (and surprisingly accurate) blending and alignment that takes place behind the scenes. The most obvious and dramatic application lets you create virtu- ally seamless horizontal or vertical pano- ramas from a series images. The Group Shot feature lets you combine several photos of the same group of people and create a single image where everybody PHOTOSHOP ELEMENTS 6 > MAGIC HAPPENS WORDS BY RIC GETTER CONVERTING AN IMAGE FROM COLOR TO BLACK AND WHITE HAS NEVER BEEN EASIER. GUIDED MODE TOOL BAR

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