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In the past few years, digital cameras have reshaped the photographic landscape. All of digital photography's benefits, however, have exacted a steep price—the complexity of working with photos on your PC. If you're like most digital camera users, you find the process more cumbersome than you'd like, and your mental list of things you'd like to do with your pictures is far longer than the list of what you've accomplished so far.

To make the most of digital photography, you need a way to organize your photos easily so that you can find the ones you want to view, share, or print. You also need tools to enhance your photos and to create albums and other projects.

Until recently, you've had to use multiple programs to perform these tasks. The complexity of dealing with many programs and Web sites, as well as with the Windows file system, can almost make you pine for simpler days when you'd just pick up your prints from the one-hour photo lab and occasionally paste some of them into an album.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 3 can make your life as a digital photographer easier and more satisfying. Elements 3 is the most comprehensive solution to the needs of digital photo hobbyists yet developed. It incorporates a wide range of functions and provides many of them in great depth. I've written this book to help you make the most of Elements 3 and get more pleasure from your photographs with less effort.


Rather than repeat the full name Adobe Photoshop Elements 3 throughout the book, I refer to it simply as Elements. Adobe makes other products that bear the suffix Elements, including Premiere Elements and the Acrobat Elements; wherever the name Elements alone appears in this book, it refers to Photoshop Elements 3.

How This Book Came to Be

The story of creating this book is, in large part, the story of how Photoshop Elements 3 came to be.

I first became involved in digital photography in 1999, when digital cameras made the leap from 1 to 2 megapixels, providing enough resolution to enable good 8 × 10 inch prints. From the day I began using a 2-megapixel digital camera, I never shot another roll of film—but I was exasperated with the complexity of working with photos on my PC. I was so convinced that there was a better way that I changed careers and cofounded a company, initially called PhotoTablet, to pursue a new approach.

The company, then renamed Fotiva, was acquired by Adobe at the end of 2001, and Fotiva's software evolved into Adobe Photoshop Album. Aimed at mainstream consumers who are making the shift from film to digital photography, Photoshop Album focuses on easy photo organizing and sharing, and includes only simple, automatic image-enhancement tools.

To address the needs of more demanding hobbyists, Adobe integrated an enhanced version of the Photoshop Album organizer with the powerful editing engine of Photoshop Elements, creating a potent solution for a variety of photo-related tasks.

Once you grasp Elements' design and structure, you'll find it easy to use for most tasks. This book is designed to guide you through the program so that you'll get all the benefits that the program can deliver.

Who Should Read This Book

Most books on Photoshop Elements focus on photo editing because of the program's history as an editing program and the relative newness of its organizing and sharing features. For many people, however, delving deeply into the complexities of editing is less important than effectively using the organizing and sharing features that are essential to the everyday tasks people commonly want to perform with their digital photos.

In this book, I've focused on the organizing, sharing, and quick-enhancement features of Photoshop Elements. I wrote this book with the following people in mind:

  • Those who have accumulated lots of digital photos but have been getting by with software that came with their camera, or with the features built into Windows XP

  • People new to digital photography who are looking for a complete, integrated solution for their photo needs

  • Users of Photoshop Album who want to switch to Photoshop Elements 3 for its more advanced organizing and sharing capabilities, as well as its rich editing functions

  • Users of earlier versions of Photoshop Elements who want to upgrade and learn how to use the new organizing and sharing capabilities

How to Read This Book

The first four chapters of this book lay the foundation for effectively using the Elements Organizer. I recommend that you read these chapters in order and in their entirety to get a firm grounding in the heart of the program:

  • Chapter 1, “Getting Started,” explains the two main modes of Photoshop Elements (the Organizer and the Editor) and their various aspects. This background information will help you maintain a clear conceptual model of the entire program, and find the function you're looking for.

  • Chapter 2, “Managing Your Files,” explains how to create your catalog and use the file system efficiently. The catalog, which indexes all your photos and video clips, is the key to freeing yourself from the tyranny of file and folder names.

  • Chapter 3, “Organizing Your Photos,” and Chapter 4, “Viewing and Finding Photos and Videos,” teach you how to use dates, tags, and collections to organize your photos, and then how to find the ones you want and view them in the way most suited to your task.

After reading these four core chapters, you can then jump directly to any other chapter of interest:

  • Chapter 5, “Fixing Your Photos,” shows you how to make quick enhancements to your photos and fix common problems.

  • Chapter 6, “Using the Standard Photo Editor,” goes beyond simple photo enhancements and provides you with an introduction to the Editor. (For a more in-depth treatment of photo editing, refer to the resources listed at www.enjoyingdp.com/resources.)

  • Chapter 7, “Sharing Photos,” describes how to use Elements to share photos using various email formats or using the Adobe Photoshop Services online service, as well as via a mobile phone, PDA, TV, or digital picture frame.

  • Chapter 8, “Making Creations,” explains how to make albums, slide shows, cards, calendars, and Video CDs.

  • Chapter 9, “Printing Your Photos,” helps you create great prints in the sizes you want and order prints from Adobe Photoshop Services.

  • Chapter 10, “Keeping Your Photos Safe,” explains how to take essential precautions to safeguard your digital photos against loss, theft, or damage.

  • Appendix A, “Keyboard Shortcuts,” lists some handy keystrokes to make working with Elements quick and easy.

Finally, be sure to visit my Web site, www.enjoyingdp.com, where you'll find hot tips and additional material, as well as links to other books and Web sites for exploring digital photography and Photoshop Elements in more depth. I'll post updates and modifications to the book on the site, and you can also ask me questions about any issues you have concerning your digital photos or Elements.

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