Author: Barbara Brundage
Publisher: Pogue Press, 2010
Aimed at: Intermediate level
Pros: Attractively produced in full color
Cons: Doesn't go far enough for the expert
Reviewed by: David Conrad
The Missing Manual series is for those who like having documentation at hand. Does it work for PhotoShop Elements?
I am quite often asked which photo editing software is suitable if you can't afford or don't need Photoshop. My preferred answer is Gimp but I have to admit that it is sometimes more than a user can cope with. My second answer is usually Photoshop Elements but I have to admit that once you get beyond the very basics it too can be confusing - just ask any beginner about layers and see what the reaction is! Hence I was pleased to have the opportunity to look at this book which claims to be the missing manual that should have been in the box - not that software has boxes any more.
Photoshop Elements 9 may be less capable than full Photoshop but the user has the problem of coming to terms with a very large range of tools and facilities. The book attempts to simplify things but to be honest there is still a lot to learn. The first section of the book is an introduction and it spends most of its time on getting photos into Elements and the using the organizer. This can be a very confusing process and it is difficult to know where your photos actually are. I can't say that at the end of the section you will be any clearer but at least you will know how to get them into Elements, how to use the organizer and how to perform some simple corrections. For some users this is enough of an introduction to Elements and they might not progress to the rest of the book - which would be a shame.
Part 2 is called Elemental Elements a its a look at the very simple basic image processing tasks. First we look at the Quick Fix window, then how to select areas. Chapter 6 is key to understanding Elements in that it describes the all important layers idea. It is true to say that if you get layers you get how to use Elements. The chapter does a good job of motivating this difficult topic and it even manges to make it sound reasonable but at the end of the say layers are still confusing in Elements 9 but getting better.
Part 3 is on retouching and covers exposure, sharpening, working with RAW format images. clone tool, color manipulation and a number of special effects such as panoramas. This section will suit the digital photographer who wants to make their photos look better. The next Part covers enhancing images in creative ways. It deals with drawing, filters, gradients and special effects.
The penultimate part is on sharing your images. It covers creating a CD/DVD, printing, preparing image for email and the web and online albums and slideshows. This is fairly real world stuff and covers the sorts of things you are likely to want to do with your photos.
The final part is just one chapter on expanding how you can use Elements with graphics tablets and useful additional programs.
If you are an expert or want to be an expert on Elements then this probably doesn't go far enough for you. The big problem is that if you just want to use the basics this book probably goes too far. So it really is best for the interested reader who wants to find out how to use Elements better. Overall the book is well written and it does do its best to explain not just the how but the why. Recommended to the right reader.