From the Kenosha News on 10-28-07

Photoshop Elements provides plenty of capability at a modest price

      Several years ago, I started to use Adobe Photoshop to edit pictures for web pages.  It had tons of features, quite a long learning curve, and price tag of over $300.  More recently, I’ve been using Microsoft’s Photo Editor, which came with Microsoft Office but had far fewer capabilities.  Photo Editor is no longer included with Office 2007, so I needed to find another tool.  I was looking for something that would give me the ability to do several specific tasks:  crop a picture, change the resolution, change a color photo into an old-style “sepia” picture, and super-impose words on a picture. 

      Adobe offers several levels of Photoshop, ranging widely in price and capabilities.  The least expensive product is Photoshop Elements, and the current versions are 6.0 for Windows or 4.0 for Macintosh.  Elements can be purchased from Adobe’s web site for $99 and $79, respectively.  I tested Photoshop Elements (Windows version 4.0) and found it could do all of what I needed. 

      I first chose a photo that featured my whole family but with too much “street” in the lower half of the photo.  I wanted to crop the photo to center the family and the background.  One feature I really liked was that I could see a small preview of the pictures before I opened them.  This is especially useful since the pictures from my digital camera have numeric file names.  Once I opened the file, I used the crop tool in the left margin.  I could specify that I wanted an aspect ratio of 5x7 or 8x10 to make sure it ended up the right shape for the enlargement that I’ll later print.

      Second, I opened a photo and used the Image Size option under the Image menu to change the resolution to 72 dpi and the image width to 600 pixels, which is perfect for posting on web pages.  (A higher resolution only results in a bigger file that loads more slowly.  A larger number of pixels makes the photo too large to display on a screen.)  I had to check the “resample image” option to un-link the resolution from the image size. 

      Creating a sepia image required using the Help feature and some experimentation.  I first used the Image menu and Mode option to change the image to Grayscale.  I agreed to discard the color information.  Then, I switched it back to RGB and slid the “Temperature” slider in the right margin farther to the right to get a warmer, brownish picture.  I use “Save As” to save the new image and still keep the original intact.

      Finally, adding text over the picture proved relatively complicated and requires some practice.  First, I clicked the Standard Edit option in the upper right.  Then, I used the Layer menu to Add a new layer, which I named “text.”  Then I used the Text tool at the left (looks like a T) to add the text.  There are drop-down boxes for font and size in the upper area.  When finished, it will want to re-save as a .PSD (Photoshop) file, but I specify a .jpg instead so it can be printed.

by Carol Sabbar from the Kenosha News on 10-28-07