Photoshop Elements 6 for Windows allows users to do more, have more fun and be more creative even if without artistic talent.  It’s $99 (or less) well spent.

My Photoshop fanatic friends are snobs.  They say anything less than the full version, Photoshop CS3 is for chumps. They say it is worth the learning curve to be able to do all that Photoshop has in its digital palette.  They say it is not worth bothering with Photoshop Elements. They remind me that one cannot learn Photoshop Elements and then “graduate” seamlessly to Photoshop CS3.  That last point will get no argument from me. It’s true. The two programs are totally different in the way they operate.  Photoshop CS3 carries a retail price of $649.  Education pricing is less.  However, there is a big difference between a $99 retail price and even a discounted price of, say, $300 for CS3.

I respect my friends, but I think they’re wrong. I have been using Photoshop Elements 6 for Windows and I find it the perfect photo program into which a consumer can easily grow.  Let me explain.

Some snapshooters, that is, some who are occasional or frequent digital photo takers want to do more than the simple crop, rotate, resize and fix red eye.  There are plenty of free ways to accomplish these basics, such as http://www.picasa.com, for example.  Likewise, there are other programs that can be purchased which allow a host of photo manipulation options. However, I can’t think of a reason to use any of them after using the newest Photoshop Elements for Windows.

The new interface is inviting and engaging and it encourages explorations, all without making the user feel stupid.  Hey, this is from Adobe, THE photo experts, so I would expect no less.

I am not ashamed to admit that I am not a photo expert. I do not carry my camera all the time in hopes of finding all manner of interesting subjects to shoot. I have friends, however, who are in this other category and they all use and swear by the full version of Photoshop CS3.

Not being the creative type, I am intimidated by all that can be done with the more expensive, expansive Photoshop. I do not want to spend the time, either. It’s just not my thing.  However, I do want to fix mistakes. I do want to be able to work with a digital SLR, perhaps shoot RAW images and then have some fun.  This can be cathartic.

The software can be effectively used to organize all your photos as well as to enhance and edit them (either replacing the original image with the changed image or creating a new one, leaving the original untouched.

Let’s have a look at three screens to illustrate the nurturing environment that greets PSE6 users.

First, the edit screen offering the full complement of editing tools, way beyond what the novice can do, but inviting him to try.  The window at the left would show the image selected that will be edited:

Note the 16 graphic effects samples at the right and the pull-down for layering of the images.

In this next image showing Quick edits, note the four sections under General, Lighting, Color and Sharpen:

Anything selected and tried can be easily undone, as if it never happened.  So, why not play and have some fun?

This next screen shows my favorite possibility, the Guided tour, so to speak:

It asks, “What would you like to do?”  How much more friendly can it get!  Just choose an area and go.  Explore.  Have fun.

That’s the idea behind this worthwhile upgrade.  The intimidation factor is just about gone. I say just about gone only because there will always be some who will never get it, never let themselves go and explore. For the rest of us, well, go for it.

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