Photoshop Elements 14
Shake off the haze in your photos
Adobe’s cut-price photo editor doesn’t offer the full feature set of its bigger brother, but there’s plenty of depth to this beginner-friendly app.
Elements comes in two parts, the Organizer and the Editor. The Editor also includes a pared-down version of Adobe Camera Raw for processing raw images.
The Organizer is for sorting your image library, with intelligent modes that help to divide your photos into categories based on People, Places and Events. All three have been improved since the previous version, with facial recognition’s success rate about a third better than in Elements 13. What’s more, as you add new photos Elements will automatically add them to a person’s stack.
Elements’ photo editor is split into three editing modes – Quick, Guided and Expert – catering for different levels of expertise. Alongside them is eLive, which gives access to a curated selection of online tutorials. In Quick mode, settings and menus are kept to a minimum, with access to simple tonal adjustments and one-click effects. New in this version are ‘Smart Looks’, which pull out five effects from a database of over 2,500, based on analysis of your image. It’s an interesting approach to the current craze for retro-looking filters, but the effects it offers can often seem rather random.
For those who want to take their skills further, Guided mode offers 40 step-by-step guides for common tasks. Interactive sliders show before and after images for each effect.
One of the clever things about the three editing modes is that you can switch between them. If you use a Guided edit to add an effect, then switch to Expert mode, you can peek under the hood to see how the effect takes shape. It’s a useful device that will help beginners to get to grips with Photoshop fundamentals like layers and masks. When you’re ready, Expert mode gives you full access to all the wonderful tools, filters, layer styles, blend modes and other features.
Also new in Elements 14 is Haze Removal. Recently introduced into Lightroom, this cuts through atmospheric haze in your photos for deeper shadow detail and extra clarity. Borrowed from Photoshop CC is Shake Reduction, which sharpens up pictures affected by camera movement. It can’t perform miracles, but it can turn a shaky mess into something usable.
Adobe knows that everybody is a photographer now, so it has made a photo editor for everybody while still offering depth for the advanced user. Thanks to the three editing modes, the journey from beginner to seasoned Photoshopper is smoother than ever. James Paterson
Adobe knows that everybody is a photographer now, so it has made a photo editor for everybody
The best Photoshop Elements yet, but the improvements are incremental rather than truly impressive.
Quick mode lets the app do most of the work, but there’s more satisfaction to be found in Expert mode.
Camera Raw doesn’t get much love in this update. It’s still limited compared to Lightroom.