Adobe Photoshop Elements 2 is an amazing digital graphics program. Essentially, it is a program that juggles numbers. Changing the numbers in the computer memory changes what you see on the screen. If you're good enough at math to know which numbers change, and by how much, you could make all those screen changes by hand. Most people aren't. (Besides, it would be terribly inefficient to make all the changes manually.) That's where Elements steps in. Let's say you want to draw a red line about halfway down the page. You could figure out the positions of the pixels to change and change the color of each one from white to red. That's too much work. Let Elements do it. You just pick up a paintbrush, choose some red paint, and draw your line. There it is. The computer has taken all the math out of your hands and done the operation much faster than you could have on your own.
Now let's say you have a photo that's much too dark. If you were a photographer working in a darkroom, you would have to do some experimenting to find out how much lighter to print the photo. You'd probably find out that some parts need to be 15% lighter, some others 30% lighter, and some parts shouldn't change. You'd have to try to find a compromise and would probably waste several sheets of paper trying to get a good print. With Elements, you can look at the screen and lighten the image by moving a slider. More importantly, you can select and lighten specific parts of the picture without changing the rest. You've finally got control!
Photoshop Elements has two purposes: correction and creation. Use it to solve problems with pictures you've scanned or shot with a digital camera. Very few pictures are perfect right from the camera. You can recompose a picture by cropping away part of it. You can remove people or objects that shouldn't be there. You can make technical corrections for color, exposure, and even focus. Then you can get creative and have fun with it. Cure your kid's acne. Get rid of red eye. Change your lemons to limes, or your purple roses to sky blue ones. Liquify a clock face so it looks like one of Salvador Dali's dripping watches . Move your family group shot from the backyard to someplace more interesting. Add type to your pictures, remove backgrounds . The only limit is your imagination .
Adobe Photoshop, despite being easy to understand, is a heavy-duty professional hunk of software. Each revision (version 7 is the most current) has added more tools and more bells and whistles for the pros. For its $600 price tag, you'll get a lot more features than most of us would ever use. Realizing that, the nice people at Adobe streamlined the software and created Photoshop Elements. They took out the more esoteric functions and added some nifty new ones, such as How To's: step-by-step recipes for all kinds of effects, tricks, and basic actions such as cleaning up a picture. They've given us almost the full power of Photoshop in a quick and easy-to-use program. Now there's no excuse for dusty scans , bad exposures, and other photographic sins. No more trees growing out of people's heads. No more faces too dark to see. Just picture after picture, better than you ever thought you could shoot.