So one day the boss calls and asks me: "Julie, can someone with Photoshop Elements come along to your One Day Beginner Photoshop Workshop?”
"Sure thing!” I reply. "I'll just have a wee look at Elements and see what the differences are so we can let them know what they'll be missing during the day."
Photoshop Elements is a pared back version of Photoshop, which covers the main "elements" of full Photoshop. Whereas full Photoshop will set you back around $1000, Elements is around $185 (price in AU and may vary), so I was expecting the differences to mirror the price difference.
So I dutifully downloaded a trial version of Photoshop Elements 10 and worked my way through the workshop tutorials, looking for what is missing in Elements. The further through the workshop notes I went, the more I discovered that virtually everything I was going to be teaching was possible using Elements alone. I was amazed, and impressed! For a fraction of the cost it is possible to achieve virtually everything most photographers need to achieve.
What are some of the differences? Bridge and MiniBridge are not part of Elements, which has the Organiser instead. However, the Organiser is felt by many to be better than Bridge. In Camera Raw, there are only three panels - the Basics panel (which covers the majority of what we do in Camera Raw), the Sharpening and Noise Reduction panel, and the Camera Profile panel. The panels that are missing cover some of the "finishing touches", but I found ways to achieve the same thing elsewhere in the program.
Onto Photoshop Elements itself, I discovered that the layout was slightly different but in a more user-friendly way, with the option to choose Quick, Guided, or Full Edit functions. The Guided edit option, as it sounds, takes you through the changes you can make to your image, in a way that teaches you at every step.
Layers are said to be the heart and soul of Photoshop, and they certainly exist in Elements also. While the adjustment layers don't always appear in the same way or in the same place, every adjustment I wanted to make was possible in Elements. The majority of the most used tools in Photoshop were present, and in fact the Text tool has more features in Elements than it does in Photoshop. There is also a Recompose tool (absent in full Photoshop) which comes with complete instructions on how to use it, as well as a link to a video tutorial on its use! How I wish Photoshop had that for all its features! Content Aware Fill, an awesome function of Photoshop CS5 is only present within the Spot Healing Brush, but it did a great job here.
Image by Julie Martin