Book Review:  Photoshop Elements - From Snapshots to Great Shots

Sharon Shifflett

Posted November 29, 2012 in: Reviews 

Photoshop Elements - From Snapshots to Great Shots
Author:  Jeff Revell
Published by:  Peachpit Press

Jeff Revell chose to write this book about Adobe Elements because it was one of the best image processing programs which did not have a price tag that would break the bank.  Elements has the basic functions as its big brother Adobe Photoshop.  The book was written for MAC or PC and Jeff Revell says “Most of the information will be general in nature and you use the same tools that have been available in previous versions of Elements.  They are the core elements of image processing, and just like f-stops and shutter speeds, they will probably change very little in the future.” 

Great ShotsThis book has been the cleanest, most precise, easiest to understand, and quickest to reference than any other “how to book” for Elements that I’ve read so far.  Every book I have tried, including Elements for Dummies, have been 5 times as thick and very weighed down and not any where near as concise and easy to understand.  This book goes through what Jeff Revell calls “Image processing as a three-step process”:  1.The import, 2. Working the pictures, giving them the right treatment to fulfill the vision that one has when they took the photo and 3. Doing something with the images – like sharing with friends, family or clients. 

Jeff Revell especially believes in shooting raw (Chapter 4) and he gives some files to use through (free) and the books ISBN.  This was so helpful, but what was even more astounding was his explanation on how to process the raw files.  Each function of all of the tools was given so that you could follow along so easily. I had only known about Adobe Camera Raw - the Basic Tab.  There are a total of three tabs on the right side of the Adobe Camera Raw Interface.

The Basic Tab  - I was using it, but really did not know the full explanation of the Recovery Slider (fixing areas in our photo that are too bright without having to make the rest of the image darker) or Fill Light Adjustments (for too many dark areas with no detail).  He gave great explanations of all the sliders in very few words and to the point.

The Detail Tab – I had never clicked on the second tab to find the greatest find I have had so far.  Sharpening, radius, detail, masking, and noise reduction, “yeah”.  For those of us who are new to raw, and are still struggling with noise when using a high ISO, or correcting the exposure on photos that were underexposed, this has been so very helpful.  I figured out what was meant by “shooting to the right”- overexpose by 2 stops will not cause noise, but underexposing will.

The Camera Calibration Tab (camera profiles specific to your camera) – As was explained in the book, “When you look at an image on your camera’s LCD screen it looks great but on the computer it is not so great.  The image on the camera is a JPEG that has been corrected and enhanced by the camera.  Raw strips this away, so to add back that pizzazz; you select a new camera profile from the Camera Calibration tab.”  I shoot a lot of people and the camera portrait works great, but not all the time, as Jeff Revel says “Sometimes you need to play around and see which works best”.  It also has camera landscape, camera neutral, camera standard, camera vivid.  The default is camera adobe.

Jeff Revell was totally off the mark when he mistakenly assumed most elements versions have the Layer Mask feature.  I am using elements 8 which does not have that feature (it shows up in Elements 9 – darn).  I was driven crazy trying to figure it out.  I had to go to the internet to find an Adjustment Layer Workaround.  There were a few other areas covered in the book that my Elements 8 did not have.  Mr. Revell was using Elements 10 at the time this book was published. 

Overall this book was so helpful that I wanted to keep it for a reference book and that is why I decided to do this review.  I did not want to part with it, I wanted to be able to page mark, and highlight important parts of the book. The differences in the more complex functions like masking were the only negative thing I had to say about the book.  If you are new to editing in Elements or you are thinking about shooting raw and are concerned you can’t do it – get this book.  I wish I had it before I did the last years editing in raw (I have only been shooting in raw for one year).  Now I have to go back and do some changes to a lot of my favorite pictures to make them even better.

Overall Rating:  9.5 out of 10

About Sharon Shifflett - Sharon has always taken lots of pictures of her children and grandchildren. Her point and shoot digital cameras would just not do, as children are faster than the shutter (got lots of pictures of the backs of their heads). She also started taking pictures of light houses for her Mother-in-Law. She decided to try a DSLR camera two years ago and was forever hooked. She takes great pleasure in creating photo books and slide shows of her grandchildren, family and friends.


Great review Sharon - makes me want to get the book, too!

Comment from Lisa Snider on November 30, 2012

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