Pho­to­shop El­e­ments 15

A com­pe­tent photo ed­i­tor that strug­gles to sell it­self

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Pho­to­shop El­e­ments’ chal­lenge is not only to keep adding fea­tures that don’t step on the toes of its big­ger brother, but also to jus­tify its very

ex­is­tence and price. Af­ter all, at £79 it’s only £20 cheaper than a year’s Cre­ative Cloud sub­scrip­tion to Pho­to­shop and Light­room.

In­ter­est­ing in this ver­sion is the abil­ity to liquify shots of peo­ple: faces are au­to­mat­i­cally recog­nised and fea­tures can be sub­tly al­tered: a mouth can be made sm­i­lier, for ex­am­ple. By keep­ing the size of our ad­just­ments un­der con­trol, we were pleas­antly sur­prised at the sub­tle ef­fec­tive­ness of some of our changes.

The de­haz­ing fea­ture ap­plies an in­tel­li­gent con­trast boost to im­ages with at­mo­spheric haze. In our tests, land­scapes showed the most dif­fer­ence, boost­ing con­trast in hazy ar­eas while leav­ing clear fore­grounds alone.

A shake-re­duc­tion tool is also in­cluded, al­low­ing pho­tos shot at too-slow shut­ter speeds to be sal­vaged. This also falls into the ‘sur­pris­ingly ef­fec­tive’ cat­e­gory, al­though our tests showed tell­tale ha­los con­comi­tant with ov­er­en­thu­si­as­tic sharp­en­ing, and we had dif­fi­culty cre­at­ing a file that we felt would print well while si­mul­ta­ne­ously show­ing the ben­e­fits of the new tool. Pho­to­shop El­e­ments’ Guided Ed­its panel – a range of step-by-step guides – has gained new tricks, such as the Photo Text tool, which cre­ates a block of text that’s masked off so your back­ground im­age as­sumes the shape of the words you type.

Power up your work­flow

The El­e­ments Or­ga­nizer has also been given an in­jec­tion of new fea­tures: select a group of im­ages and click Quick Fix and you can batch process them with sat­u­ra­tion, ex­po­sure and clar­ity tools. Its search tool has grown im­pres­sively, too: as Or­ga­nizer rakes through your photo fold­ers, it al­lows you to search not only by face or ge­olo­ca­tion, but by the con­tent of a photo. En­ter ‘Taj Ma­hal’, for in­stance, and it will re­turn shots of the epony­mous mau­soleum. It also works with more pro­saic key­words: we got re­sults for keyboards, build­ings and cam­era lenses, po­ten­tially sav­ing ded­i­cated key­worders hours of work.

The app’s chal­lenge is mean­ing­fully oc­cu­py­ing the gap be­tween Ap­ple’s Pho­tos and the full-blooded ver­sion of Pho­to­shop. While El­e­ments of­fers loads of power, and we’re still fans of its suite of guided ed­its, you may be bet­ter off with a Cre­ative Cloud sub­scrip­tion and YouTube for tu­to­ri­als. In­ter­est­ingly, the first time we used the Ex­pert edit­ing mode we were met with an ad for Pho­to­shop Light­room. We sug­gest you cut out the mid­dle­man and go straight there.

The app’s chal­lenge is mean­ing­fully oc­cu­py­ing the gap be­tween Pho­tos and Pho­to­shop

The shake re­duc­tion tool is sur­pris­ingly ef­fec­tive, and may help res­cue shots.

The app has a range of ‘Fun’ ed­its to quickly spruce up im­ages with col­lage, text, paint-like ef­fects and more.

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