Fall Into Adobe Photoshop Elements 14 Review by Dee Marie

Fall Into Adobe Photoshop Elements 14

Review by Dee Marie

Photoshop Elements LogoIf it’s fall, it’s time to explore the newest version of Adobe Photoshop Elements. When searching for a reasonably priced photo editing program, Adobe Photoshop’s little sister, Adobe Photoshop Elements 14, is the perfect fit for amateur shutterbugs to scrapbookers, and even professional photographers.

In our cloud-based society, Adobe Photoshop Elements 14 remains a non-subscription standalone program … still available for purchase! Although Adobe Photoshop Elements 14 does not provide all the advanced editing features/functions of Adobe Photoshop, it is a reasonably priced and surprisingly powerful photo editor.

This year’s version is scant on new features, but makes up for it with an abundance of enhancements to familiar and often-used editing tools. As with previous versions, Photoshop Elements 14 is divided into two sections, the Photo Organizer and the Photo Editor. Within the Organizer’s Media Mode there are several Photo Fix Options (along with the basic rotate and delete tools) that allow you to make on-the-fly edits without opening the Photo Editor. The Organizer also includes the option to add keywords and shooting locations to your photographs.

Photoshop Elements Photo Fix
Photo Fix within the Photo Organizer under Media Mode

If your traditional camera (or cell phone camera) has GPS installed, Photoshop Elements 14 extracts the location information from your camera; pinpointing the place the image was taken and displaying the image (or image batches) on Google Map. If your camera does not have a GPS function, you can manually insert a location for a single image and/or a series of photographs. If you have a specific event you want to easily find, use the Events Mode to create a location where those precious memories took place.

Photoshop Elements Places Mode
Photoshop Elements 14, Places Mode and People Mode

Each year the facial recognition function has improved, making it easier to tag and find photographs of specific people. Although the enhanced facial recognition in Photoshop Elements 14 produced the usual ‘mistaking dog photographs for people,’ at least with this version it did not confuse our Yellow Labradors for my husband.

Photo Editing User Interface

Once you have finished organizing your images, it is time to get down to the serious business of photo editing. As with last year’s version, Photoshop Elements 14 retained its uncluttered User Interface, creating a clean and extremely user-friendly photo-editing experience. The streamline UI allows you to effortlessly find, and then navigate, from one photo editing function to another.

Photoshop Elements Interface
Photoshop Elements 14 User Interface (in Expert Mode)
[A] Menu Bar [B] Mode Selector [C] Tool Bar [D] Tool Options Bar/Photo Bin [E] Task Bar
[F] Panel Bar [G] Panels (floating or docked) [H] List of Available Tabs [I] Panel Commands

Expert Mode

In Expert Mode, Photoshop Elements 14 sports the familiar full Adobe Tool Bar. This mode also takes you on a fun Easter-egg hunt. Each click of an icon produces new editing functions. Under the Panels Commands tabs are over a hundred distinct backgrounds, frames, graphics, and shapes. There is also a special Text Tab with an abundance of individual color and blending options. Clicking on the More Icon in the Task Bar reveals a list of available Panel Tabs (each with their own features and functions).

Photoshop Elements Layers Panel
Original Image – Edited Image tweaked in the Layers Panel

The Layers Panel, located on the Task Bar (in the Expert Mode), is a photo editor’s best friend. After applying an effect and/or edit, open the Layers Panel to view the steps that were taken to achieve the final edit. You also have the option to adjust the opacity (or hide) individual layers; this in turn gives you the ability to make further adjustments to the image.

Quick Mode

Photoshop Elements Quick Mode
Quick Mode – slimmed-downed Tool Bar - Smart Looks FX

The Quick Mode has a slimmed down Tool Bar, but does offer limited Adjustments, Special Effects, Textures and Frames (on the Task Bar).

The real powerhouse of Quick Mode is within the Special Effects panels. Within each of the 11 Effects Panels are 5 options for that particular special effect … automatically generated specifically for your image. New to Photoshop Elements 14 is the Smart Looks FX, It analyzes your images from thousands of variations, based on the photograph’s content and then offering 5 different Smart Looks options.

The Special Effects options can produce beautiful quick variations to otherwise basic images. However, since there are thousands of variations to each Special Effect, I wish there was a random button to scramble the 5 auto-options.

 

Guided Mode

There are now 34 Guided Edits featured within the new Guided Edits Interface. The Guided Edits are divided into six pages, with each page devoted to specific editing mode functions: Basics, Color, Black and White, Fun Edits, Special Edits, and Photomerge.


Guided Edits New Interface (top)
Rotate and Straighten in Guided Edits (bottom) with non-autofill insert

Within each of the 6 category pages there are individual guided edit examples. Each of the “example images” have sliders. These sliders display how the edited function will appear “before and after” the edited mode is applied. Although it not new to Photoshop Elements 14 Guided Edits, one of my favorite features is Rotate and Straighten, especially when Autofill Edges is applied. This feature magically creates content fill on what would normally be white space around the edges, due to the image being cropped when straightened. 

Photoshop Elements Speed Effect
New Speed Effect in Guided Edits

New to Guided Edits in Photoshop Elements 14 is the Speed Effect, located appropriately under the Fun Edits category. This is a cool feature that brings a touch of whimsy to any action image. With just a few guided steps you can add the illusion of speed to a photograph by inserting a motion blur effect.

When finished editing in any of the Guided Edits, clicking the Save Arrow (on the Task Bar) will open the ‘what do you want to do next’ panel. This panel gives you the options to save (or save as), continue editing in either the Quick or Expert Modes, or directly share your image. This is a handy panel if you plan to continue editing. However I feel it is a redundant new feature, as you can easily do all those functions effortlessly without the panel.

Menu Bar/Enhance Menu

New to Photoshop Elements 14 is Camera Shake Reduction. If you’ve taken a photograph, you have, or will, experience camera shake when taking either a selfie, or merely having an unsteady hand holding the camera. Auto Shake Reduction and Manual Shake Reduction are a photographer’s best friend. Auto Shake Reduction and the Manual Shake Reduction are located under the Enhance Menu (on the Menu Bar), and can be accessed from either the Expert or Quick Mode.

Photoshop Elements Shake Reduction
Auto Shake Reduction located under the Enhance Menu

 

I was extremely impressed at the renewed clarity/sharpness created merely using Auto Shake Reduction. See the above image for the blurry before and crisp after. Within the manual version of Shake Reduction, you can fine-tune your image. There is also an option to designate individual sections of an image to apply selective Shake Reduction. If you only purchase Photoshop Elements 14 for this feature, it will be money well spent.

Photoshop Elements Haze Removal
Haze Removal located under the Enhance Menu

Also located under the Enhanced Menu is the new Haze Removal editing function. Fog disappears with just a click of the Auto Haze Removal. Then tweak your image to perfection with manual Haze Removal. Not only does this new feature do an outstanding job of removing haze from landscape images, it also improves under-exposed photographs.

Although introduced in a previous version, the Refining Edges Tools are better than ever … especially when defining human hair and pet fur. The enhanced Refine Selection Brush Tool is located on the Tool Menu in both Quick and Expert Modes. Clicking on this brush automatically opens the Tool Options Bar, which displays a variety of refining tools.

Photoshop Elements Refine Selection
Refine Selection Brush Tool (Expert Mood/Tool Bar)

The enhancements to the Refine Selection Brush Tool has made a huge improvement in separating a subject from even a complex background. I was impressed with the ease of selecting the long eyebrow hairs on the above image of my Labrador. The whole process took minutes instead of hours.

eLive Mode

Although you do not need an Internet connection to use Photoshop Elements 14, you do need an Internet connection to take advantage of the eLive Mode. Clicking eLive takes you to a designated Adobe Photoshop Elements online help hub. Be sure to explore this feature, as it also gives invaluable tips and tricks on photography techniques.

Create and Share

Photo Projects are available inside the Create drop-down menu. From there you can print a contact sheet, make a photo book, greeting card, photo calendar, or photo collage. If you are hooked on social media, you will appreciate the ease of creating a Facebook Cover. In Create you can design jackets for CDs, DVDs, and DVD/CD labels. All have unique themes with easy to follow instructions. You can also put together distinctive slide shows from your edited photographs.

Photoshop Elements Create Panel
Photo Book composed in the Create Panel of Photoshop Elements 14

Once you are finished with your edits, easily share your masterpiece memories on Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, or SmugBug Gallery; all within Photoshop Elements 14 Share Panel.

Conclusion

To buy or not to buy is the question. After exploring every new and enhanced feature/function of Photoshop Elements 14, I would highly recommend it to the following photo enthusiasts:

1.      Photographers that prefer not to subscribe to the full version of Adobe Photoshop

2.      Photographers that are just interested in “quick and  easy-to-use” photo-editing software

3.      Scrapbookers and Hobbyists

4.      Those who own Adobe Photoshop Elements 12 or earlier

5.      Even if you have any of the Adobe Cloud Subscription Plans, Photoshop Elements is still a reasonably priced software editing program, and better yet … you own the software.

Even though I am a longtime, hardcore Adobe Photoshop user, I still found Adobe Photoshop Elements 14 a formidable editing program, and by far the best version to date. It is extremely user-friendly, producing beautifully edited images with little effort. Even though this is my favorite Photoshop Elements version … if you own Photoshop Elements 13, I would suggest you compare all the new and enhanced features before upgrading.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 14 has another often over-looked feature … the price is the same as last year! At only $99.99 ($79.99 upgrade) the standalone version of Adobe Photoshop Elements 14 is an outstanding value. However, at $149.99 ($119.99 upgrade) the best buy is to purchase Adobe Photoshop Elements 14 bundled with Adobe Premiere Elements 14. Still unsure if this is the photo-editing software for you, Adobe offers a free 30 day trial version.

If you are seeking a photo-editing program that is affordable, user-friendly, and produces beautiful images in minutes (not hours) … Adobe Photoshop Elements 14 is definitely a worthy contender that will meet and exceed your expectations.

For additional Adobe Photoshop Elements 14 (PC/Mac) information please visit the following:

·         Official Adobe Photoshop Elements 14 website

·         Adobe Photoshop Elements 14 FAQ

·         Adobe Photoshop Elements 14 Reference Guide

 

All supporting images are copyrighted

and cannot be used in any manner without written permission

 


Dee Marie, awarding winning author and freelance journalist

Dee Marie is an awarding winning author and freelance journalist. She has previously
served as Managing Editor and Editor-in-Chief of an international printed CGI magazine.

She invites you to visit her on Facebook, Twitter, and her
Sons of Avalon website.