The big name photo organiser learns a few new tricks
Photoshop Elements began life as a cutdown version of Adobe's expensive Photoshop image editor, but it has become increasingly tailored to the needs of non-professional photographers, automating or facilitating features previously accessible only to high-end users.
It consists of two well-integrated modules: an image editor and an organiser that uses facial recognition to help index and search the thousands of images on the typical PC. Identify someone in an image and it will find other pictures of the same person and tag them with the same name.
New to Elements 10 is object recognition, which does something similar with items and places. It also locates duplicate images.
The organiser prompts to identify people it does not recognise in any pictures viewed, which is a gentle if occasionally irritating way of getting the user to index them. Elements 10 can use this information to automatically tag any photos uploaded to Facebook. Similarly, Facebook images and tags can be imported.
These features don't eliminate the chore of indexing but it's reasonably quick to get to a point where with just a click or two you can locate pictures of a particular person or item.
The organiser also manages video clips and is shared by Premier Elements if you have both products installed.
Automatic adjustment of an image's colour, contrast and tonal range can be performed with a single click from within the organiser but to change them manually you have to enter the image editor.
Both the editor and organiser have a tabbed sidebar that gives options in addition to those in the usual upper row of dropdown menus. The arrangement worked well but was confusing at first – the manual contrast and brightness controls, which you might expect to be in the upper menus, are buried under a button marked Guided on the sidebar tab marked Edit.
This lists Guided Edits, which are like menus with built-in help, telling you how to use the options they present. New ones in version 10 include a cropping guide and a way to simulate a shallow depth of field, leaving the subject of a picture in sharp focus against a fuzzy background.
Also new is the ability to apply paint effects to specific areas of a picture, selected using a ‘smart brush' that makes a stab at identifying edges. It works best when these are well-defined but you can fine-tune your selection to give acceptable results even with fuzzy, low-contrast images. A typical use would be to change the background of a portrait (pictured).
Curiously it cannot simply blank out the background, which would provide an easy way to produce cutout images – this is useful for posting pictures of items for sale on eBay.
There isn't a lot that's new here, but the additions are worthwhile and Photoshop Elements remains an excellent home photo organiser and editor.
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A minor but useful upgrade to a good all-round tool for managing, editing and sharing images
Guided edits encourage more adventurous use of features
White-on-black menu options can be hard to read
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