I learned Something New About PSE 6

I think I learned something new about how the Organizer in Photoshop Elements works in various versions, regarding its handling of Version Sets. Right now at the Griffith Center in Torrance, we are still using PSE 4. At the South Bay Adult School PSE 6 is used. At SBAS we were going over editing a photo without including it in a Version Set. As I was about to explain, how edited copies of photos retained whatever Tags were assigned to the original, I suddenly noticed that our edited copy had no tags assigned to it. That took me totally by surprise.

I have been using Version Sets almost exclusively since they were introduced in PSE 3 and only occasionally do not use them. However, I was sure that whenever I did chose not to put the edited copy in a Version Set, it still inherited the Tags that the original was assigned.

Later, I checked my recollection. Sure enough PSE 5 and earlier versions retain the Tags of the original even if they are not part of a Version Set. However, in PSE 6 if you do not save the edited copy in a Version Set, there are no Tags assigned to it. To the best of my knowledge, there are no Preferences that control this behavior and I have not seen it mentioned in the Help file or other documentation. Have any of you seen this?

For those of you new to PSE and its use of Version Sets, the diagram below shows where you select the option when you are saving the edited copy. The option is on the bottom line of this figure. When the Version Set option is selected the images are stacked on top of each other in the Photo Browser with the edited copy on top. And the filename of the edited copy is automatically generated by PSE.


Increasing Mid Tone Contrast Safely

Here is something you may find useful. We know that using the Levels command you can increase the contrast of an image by dragging the two outer sliders inward. However, you can only drag them to where the histogram just lifts off of the bottom horizontal line. If you drag them any further, you will be clipping the data. This means that depending upon which slider is moved too far inward, you are blocking up the shadows and losing detail there, or blowing out the highlights. What we really want to do is increase the contrast of the mid tones.

There are many ways to do this. In PSE 5/6, you can use the Color Curves command (Enhance > Adjust Color > Adjust Color Curves). If you are using an older version of PSE or just don’t want to use the Color Curves, try this.

Click on Enhance > Adjust Lighting > Shadows/Highlights. Assuming that you do not want to lighten the shadows of your image, Move the Lighten Shadows slider all the way to the left. Now you can adjust the contrast of the image by using the bottom slider, Mid Tone Contrast without fear of blowing out the highlights or losing shadow detail in your image.

Until next time….


Question For The Day: Are you using Version Sets when saving your edited pictures? Let me know by using the Comments button below. I would to hear from you.


Using Microsoft’s Live Writer

This post is probably more for my benefit than for anyone who might read it. Up until now, my posts have been made using WordPress’ editor. Although it is reasonably friendly, it appears to do certain tasks and formatting you need to know HTML – I don’t. In reviewing some of my recent RSS feeds from Microsoft, I came across one talking about Live Writer. Live Writer is a free tool for writing blogs. It can be used with several of the popular blog hosting sites, of which WordPress is one.

I decided I would download it and see how it works for generating this post. What I discovered when downloading the program was that I already had it on my computer, along with some other components of Microsoft’s Live Windows suite. And I also discovered that I had already linked it to my Don’s Digital Photo Corner blog. I have a habit of downloading programs etc and then forgetting about them before I can find if they are useful or not. I have a backlog of these in my Downloads folder on my desktop. So little time, so many programs.

Using Vista’s Snipping Tool, I captured the right panel on Live Writer’s screen that shows tasks that I can do.


As long as I’m at it, I might as well show you what the Live Writer’s Menu bar looks like.


I am going to pause here and publish the post, or at least try to. OK. I’m back. I added the Category and Tag from the WordPress editor online. Now I am back to Live Writer working locally on my PC.

I am going to end this post now with the following thought you may want to consider. If you are currently posting pictures on the Internet, on a photo sharing site, you may want to consider a blog. For example, you could post your very best pictures on your blog which would give you a better forum to describe them and get comments back from your friends who view them. By the way, with most blog hosting sites, you can make it so your blog is visible only to those guests you invite.

See, I did finally get around to a digital photography in this post.


2008 Calendar Project

Well, it is the beginning of another new year and time to print a few picture calendars. Programs like Photoshop Elements generally include wizards and templates that make this very easy to do. But I like to have the entire year on a sheet, along with the picture of course. Unfortunately, Elements only includes templates that are laid out for one month per page. So, I generally go onto the internet and download a template. There is no shortage of free calendar templates that you can download.

This year I came across the following site: 


This particular site specializes in poster size calendars. Normally, I print my picture calendars on letter size paper. I ended up making one printed on 13 x 19 paper and then printed a second copy on 8-1/2 x 11 paper. Doing this was quite easy, so I decided it might be a good project to pass along here. Here is what I did.

  1. First I went to the web site above and downloaded a few templates. The site includes several styles and designs. The one I chose was for an 11 x 17 landscape layout, with US weeks that start on Sunday and end on Saturday.
  2. I then started PSE 6 in the Edit mode and opened the selected template.
  3. I already had a picture in mind, so I went to the Organizer, selected it, and opened it in the Editor.
  4. All of the templatesfrom this are designed for a resolution of 300 ppi. The one that I used was designed to hold a picture measuring 3200 pixels wide and 2400 pixels high, or 10.7 inches wide by 8 inches high. So, I used the PSE Crop Tool to crop my chosen image to that size and resolution.
  5. Now I had the cropped image in the main editing window and the calendar template in the Photo Bin (called the Project Bin in PSE 6) at the bottom if the screen.
  6. I then chose the Move Tool at the top of the Tool Box and drug my chosen picture down to my calendar template. It automatically was placed right in the center of the template, which is how the template was designed.
  7. I then printed the completed calendar on 13 x 19 paper using my wide carriage Epson R1800 printer. I now have it nicely displayed on my desk mat.

I also wanted a normal letter size calendar, so I needed to re-sample or more precisely down-sample my finished calendar accordingly. There are other and maybe easier ways to do this, but chose to use the Resize command in the Editor.

On the Menu, click on Image > Resize > Image Size.

  • Put a check in the Resample square and select Bicubic Sharper
  • I was going to print using the Borderless option on my printer and wanted to maintain the 11 inch width, so I entered 11 for the Width.
  • The Height was automatically set to about 7.1 inches.
  • I entered 300 for the Resolution and clicked OK.

I now had a version of my calendar that would pretty much fill an 8-1/2 x 11 inch page.

The whole process from downloading the templates to completing the printing of both copies took far less time than it did for me to write this. Try this yourself if you need a yearly calendar. Its another great way to make use of one of the hundreds of pictures you probably take throughout the year.

Here is a picture of my calendar.

2008 Calendar

My two favorite teams are UCLA and anyone playing SC.  🙂

Until next time…

Should I Upgrade to Photoshop Elements 6

School started for me this week, so I have been asked this question several times. And besides, the local CostCo stores have a real good deal going on now using an easily obtainable coupon. I believe I was told the final price is $50 for PSE 6.

My first answer is generally, ‘it depends’, which does no one any good. If you are using Version 2 or 3, the answer is pretty simple in me mind. You should upgrade, assuming your computer meets the minimum specifications. The answer is not quite is simple if you are currently using PSE 4 or PSE 5. Depending upon how you use the program and how much you use the program, the answer will very.

Personally, I like PSE 6 and have upgraded to it for my personal photos. It has a whole new look (dark background like, Lightroom) and has some new editing tools etc. But it is not perfect. I hate to admint that, since I was on the beta test team for this version. Some of the problems reported by the smart people on the team were apparently not fixed before the release date.

As time goes on, I will have more to say on this subject. I am currently still working through some catalog conversion issues myself. Do not be overly concerned about Catalog conversion. For most of you, I suspect it will proceed without a hitch. I believe my situation may have been caused by my paricular Catalog structure, as well as some program problems.

My website has some comments about PSE 6 and converting the Catalog from earlier versions, as well as some excellent links to sites that describe its features. Rather than repeat the same thing here, I have added the link to the information on my web site. I will expand upon this general subject, especially the Catalog conversion subject in future blogs. Here is the link.


If you have been wondering whether or not to upgrade or just want to know more about PSE 6, check out the link. Please leave a comment with any of your own thoughts or experiences with PSE 6. By the way, there are other features to this blog site I am using regarding discussions etc. As I go along I will introduce them — as I learn how to use them.

Until next time,



Photoshop Elements Tips 1

One of the goals for my blog is to pass on some tips and hints I have come across for doing things faster or better in Photoshop Elements. I read a lot of magazines and books on digital photography. Most of my students don’t have the time to do that. What I hope to do here is pass on some of these tips.

I do introduce a few keyboard shortcuts in my classes, but I generally leave it to the students to discover others on their own based on their needs and interest. Here are few hints to get going. I will add others in future posts.

Quickly Zoom to Fit on Screen or Actual Pixels (100%) 

To quickly set Fit on Screen, double click on the Hand Tool. To quickly zoom into Actual Pixels or 100%, double click on the Zoom Tool.

Quickly Select the Move Tool 

You can almost always quickly select the Move Tool by holding the Ctrl Key. Once you let go of the Ctrl Key Elements reverts back to whatever tool you were using. 

Easily Explore Blending Modes

 To quickly and easily cycle through layer blending modes to see how they affect the image, do the following. Select the Move Tool, and then select your layer. Press and hold the Shift key, and press the + key. Each time you press the + key the Blending Mode is changed. Pressing the minus sign key reverses the direction. 

Enlarging the Preview in the Filter Gallery

The Filter Gallery is great for playing with various filters and seeing how they interact with each other. Bring up the gallery by clicking on Filter > Filter Gallery on the Menu. To see a larger preview than what is shown initially, click on the triangle button facing upwards, just left of the OK button. This hides the list of filters and enlarges the preview of the filter you are currently working with.

Removing Stray Pixels in a Selection

Sometimes when making a selection with the Magic Wand, some pixels are not selected and are seen flashing on and off. To select these pixels, click on Select > Modify > Smooth and enter a Radius of 1; then click OK. The stray pixels should now be selected. 

Controlling the Magic Wand

The setting selected for the Eyedropper Tool also affects how the Magic Wand samples colors. The Color Picker has the following Sample Size options – Point Sample, 3×3 Average, and 5×5 Average. Thus, if the Color Picker is set to 5×5 Average, the Magic Wand will use that larger range of pixels to make its selection. So, if the Magic Wand is not working as you expected, check the Sample Size options you have set for the Eyedropper.  

Sample Colors Anywhere on the Desktop 

One of the uses of the Eye Dropper Tool is to set the Foreground Color. Normally you click somewhere in your open image to select that particular color. However, you can sample any color that is visible on your screen. Select the Eyedropper Tool, click on your image somewhere and drag the mouse to anywhere on your desktop, for example an open document. Once you are over the desired color, release the mouse button.   

Starting Off The New Year and New Blog

I was trying to think what I should have for my first post on my new blog. I decided to show off a sample of before and after photos from one of my students. Besides breaking the ice around my blog, it will also teach me how to go about adding photos to it.

During my classes, I encourage students to send me before/after pictures where they have used techniques we have covered in class. In the past, I have collected several of these, and then posted them on my web site. I will probably continue to do that, but it often takes some time to collect the photos and then get around to adding them to the site. Maybe this blog is a way to help me get them online quicker. We’ll see.

The first couple of pictures are from Laurel Woodley. She used the the mask on the Level Adjustment Layer of Photoshop Elements to correct a lighting problem we all have encountered. As Laurel put it,

I found this really “overexposed” background and followed today’s lesson to improve on it.  After getting this image in Venezuela I learned to use the fill-in flash the hard way.”


Above is the origianl

After Shadows/Highlights

The above photo resulted after using the mask on the Levels Adjustment Layer. Similar results are possibe using the Shadows/Highlights command.

Here are a couple of additional photos from Laurel. We were working on selections in class, and this was her first attempt on her own.




                  After Replacing the Background

Ok, see you next time.