Monday, January 14, 2013

Why I've Stopped Teaching Photoshop Elements

Today's image really doesn't have anything to do with the topic of today's post.  It's there more for eye candy to possibly attract someone to the Gallery.  For the past four or five years I've been teaching Adobe Photoshop Elements (PSE) in the evenings for an adult continuing education department in the next town over.  For the first couple years I'd try to teach the group all sorts of neat tips and tricks that would make their images sing.  More and more it became apparent that 1) the "tricks" were beyond the "students" level of knowledge and 2) they were more interested in cropping, sharpening and auto retouching their images.  Not doing tricks with them.  There were the occasional "interesting" problems that a person would ask about.  One was a woman who's only purpose in taking the class was restoring images that had a blown out center.  She's an artist and would have the problem when shooting her paintings and sculptures.   I finally asked if I could go to her studio and look at the problem firsthand.  I asked her to shoot one of her paintings.  She put the painting on an easel, her camera on a tripod with the lens perpendicular to the painting.  So far so good.  She hit the shutter, the flash popped up and flashed the shot.  She asked me to look at the screen on the back of the camera and said "see, this is exactly what I get".  I explained that she didn't have a "photoshop" problem.  I told he to put the camera on Program rather than Auto and the problem would go away.  The whole trick was to keep the flash from popping up and giving her a big light splash in the middle of her paintings.  It wasn't silly things like that that made me decide to end teaching PSE.  To find out what drove me to stop, hit the "Read More".

It's really a simple reason.  The people taking the class only wanted to "correct" the images that came out of their cameras.  Nothing fancy, nothing tricky or cute.  Just crop and correct the images they took.  The answer to that problem is Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 (LR4).  It's actually simpler than PSE and the list price isn't that much more than PSE.  $99.00 versus $149.00.  When LR4 was $299.00 it was an issue telling people to spend three times the price.  At a fifty percent premium it isn't prohibitive.

LR4 is totally nondestructive.  PSE has the ability to ruin the image.  LR4 has better database functions than PSE.  Right across the main screen of LR4 it has all the options for what you might want to do with your images.  Do you want to Develop (enhance) the image?  Do you want to make a book, a slideshow or make a website?  It's all there, right across the top.

Is your image to dark?  Move some sliders.  It really does matter which ones.  You're not going to hurt to file.  Does it look better?  Good.  Does it look worse?  Move the slider back (or back so far you go in the opposite direction.  If whatever slider you moved didn't help, move another one.  There's a Reset button on the bottom right.  You can always get back to where you started. 

LR4 is understandable.  You, typically, don't have to know that you can right click on an icon and bring up a whole expanded world of options. 

Finally, you can start out on day one and get a feel for the program.  As you progress, you will learn more and more about what LR4 can do.  But, fifteen minutes in on day one you can make corrections to your shots.

Rather than take several weeks of classes for PSE, I could have the students in and out in one hour on one night with LR4.  It's just that easy (to get started).