Copying Captioned Pictures to CD

This post was prompted by a student’s question. She had a group of pictures she had added captions using Photoshop Elements. She wanted to make a CD for a friend that would contain the pictures and their captions. The problem was that using Share >  CD/DVD did copy the captions, but they were not visible using Windows XP Explorer.  The captions are there, but not easily seen by Windows Explorer. She knew she could make  a slide show that would display her captions and would even allow her to adjust their style and location. But she did not want to go to that trouble.

To be honest, after exchanging a couple of emails, I failed to give her a better way to do what she wanted than to make a slide show. Later it struck me that there was at least one alternative. Make an Online Album and save it to a CD. We generally do not cover this in my classes. Maybe we should, and I might include it in the future.

For now, I decided to make a video tutorial showing how to make the CD and then effectively play it back. The video runs for about 19 minutes. To watch the video, Click Here. After several seconds, it should begin to play. If you have trouble viewing it let me know by posting a comment below.

By the way, those of you reading this who are former students, both the South Bay Adult School and Torrance Adult Center are beginning formulate their plans for the fall term. I should have some news with regards to the classes I will be teaching at the two schools in a couple of weeks or so.  Stay tuned.

Until next time,



Photoshop Elements Quick Reference Guide Plus

Surfing the net today, I rediscovered a site I believe I’ve been to before. Its address is What you have here is a pretty large list of quick reference guides for many popular programs. They are in PDF format. When printed they look similar to those plastic laminated guides you can buy in a book store. Here is the link to the one they have for Photoshop Elements 6. Even if you are using PSE 7, you should still find this guide quite useful. They also have one for PSE 5.

Check out the guides they have for other programs. I downloaded and printed the one they have for Microsoft’s One Note, a program I use extensively. This site is probably not the only site providing free quick reference guides and it may not be the best. If you know of similar sites providing concise reference guides for PSE or other programs, let us know about them in the Comments section of this post.

Until next time,


Photoshop Elements Catalog File – The Critical Link

Are you backing up your pictures and your Photoshop Elements Catalog? Are you using the PSE Backup command, or some other software program to this? Some of my students, especially those that are new to PSE are doing little to protect their images from either a hard disk crash or some kind of virus. Both can strike without warning. If you have never experienced either one of these catastrophes, you will.

I personally use the PSE Backup command to do my backups. This command not only backs up all of my pictures, audio files, and videos, but also the Catalog file that is the heart of PSE’s Organizer. The number of pictures in my catalog is rapidly approaching 23,000. There are a lot of memories contained in those photos. My ability to find any given picture within 1-2 minutes using the Categories, Sub-Categories, and Tags I have assigned them over the years is critical to me. It’s the Catalog file that contains all of this information about my pictures, including the link as to where a given image is stored on my computer.

I have been using the built-in Backup command since it became available in PSE 3. It has worked well for me, and on more than one occasion, its companion command Restore prevented an inconvenience from becoming a disaster. This command can also be used when moving your pictures and Catalog to a new computer. I wrote a couple of articles here about a year ago discussing the Backup and Restore commands. Click here.

Many of my students are backing up their pictures and other data using dedicated backup software that may run automatically. In general, this is a very good approach. However, when I ask them if they are backing up their Catalog file with their chosen program, they normally can’t tell me. The Catalog file is absolutely essential if you ever have to recover your pictures and get the Organizer working properly again. This file holds the pointers to the physical location of your pictures, all of the category, sub-category, and tag assignments, as well as all of the other information you or PSE has generated about your pictures.

Most of us, don’t even know where this file is stored. However, it is easy to find this out right from within the program. From the Organizer’s Menu, click on Help > System Info. A screen like the figure below will be displayed. You can print it or copy it to a document. As you can see, it contains a lot of useful information in addition to the location of the Catalog file.

PSE 7 Sys Info From Organizer 

The Catalog file is not a large file. It does not contain your pictures, just the critical information about them. In my case, my Catalog file is only 89 Mb. This is for my catalog that contains almost 23,000 images and takes about 115 Gb of storage space to back up.

So what does all this mean to you? Well, if you are not doing any backups now, you should do one immediately using the built-in Backup Command in PSE. If you are already backing up your computer with other software, verify that the Catalog file is included. If it is not add it to the list of folders/files being backed up, or at least routinely back it separately.

One final suggestion, if you are having trouble with your computer and have it repaired by technician, make sure they are aware of this important file. I have helped several people get PSE running properly again, after they had their PC worked on. Although all of their pictures were recovered, PSE could not find them, because the Catalog file itself was not properly restored.

Until next time,


Microsoft’s Photo Collage Program


Those of you that just finished the photo editing class at Torrance Griffith Adult Center remember we made a very simple photo collage consisting of only two photos and a background image. The key technique we used to blend the photos together was to borrow the Layer Mask that is part of an Adjustment Layer and apply it to a normal layer. PSE does not have the capability to apply masks to normal image layers like Photoshop CS4.

Expanding the technique to more pictures and making a more interesting collage is possible, but it would take a fair amount of time. The process is only slightly shortened if you use a plug-in that directly gives PSE Layer Masks for normal image layers. By the way we do deal with such plug-ins in the Advanced Editing classes I teach.

But there is a much easier way thanks to Microsoft’s Research Labs. They have created a program called AutoCollage 2008, and it’s free to download. Here is the link to its home page.


There is a link there to download the program, which is Version 1.1 now. It is very easy to use. After you start the program, you basically just select your images and it does the rest. You do not have very much control of the placement, but you are done in a couple of minutes. One thing I did learn about using it is to avoid select portrait mode images. The program tends to rotate these, which normal you would not want to do.

I find this program to be very useful for making title slides for slide shows and videos. Using it for that, I just select a few of the pictures from the slide show. If you are using PSE, you can use the File > Export command to copy your chosen pictures to a temporary folder. Run AutoCollage using the pictures from that folder, and then delete them after you are done. Remember, since you used the Export command, they were copies that PSE disowned once they were copied. The originals are untouched. Below is an example from a recent slide show I made.

Auto Collage Example

Download the program and try it out.  Let me and others know what you think by leaving a comment below.

Until next time,


Getting the Most From This Blog

Some of you reading this may not be that familiar with reading blogs, or at least the way mine is laid out. So I thought it might be a good idea to orient you a bit. To begin with, blogs show the latest post on the top and older posts in reverse order as you scroll down the page. This is similar to how forums on the internet are organized.

At the bottom of each post or article there is link you can click on to leave a comment or a question. I encourage you to do exactly that if you have a question or a comment. I get an email message any time someone adds a comment.

Blogs can be laid out in any number of ways. In my blog, you will see Page tabs at the top. Pages can be used for a variety of things. I tend to use Pages for those articles and information that I do not want to scroll off the screen in time. For the past several months, I have devoted most of the pages to providing student handouts for the classes I’m currently teaching. These are password protected and will be locked or removed shortly now that school is over for me until the fall.

The Blogroll in the right hand pane is simply a list of some interesting web sites. I will probably be adding to my Blogroll soon. Since a blog is just a long list of articles, you need a quick way to get to previous articles of interest. One way to do this is the Calendar in the right pane. For a given month, those dates that are blue are dates when a post was added. Clicking on a blue date takes you directly to the article.

At the top of the left pane are links to the Pages. It is important to look here for a complete list of Pages, because only so many page tabs can fit across the top.  Below that are the Categories and Sub-Categories which I have assigned to each post or article. It’s a good way to quickly get to a post on a particular subject. Below the Categories are the Archives showing links to previous months.

Blogs are intended to be updated frequently. Due to my teaching schedule, mine does not get updated nearly as much as it should. However, now that it is summer, I should be able to update it much more often. I encourage you to check back periodically. For my students, this will be one of the first places you will see what my teaching schedule will be for the fall at both the Torrance Griffith Adult Center and the South Bay Adult School.

The Entries RSS  and Comments RSS links near the top left of the page, can be used to set up an email reminder/link back to the blog whenever a post has been updated or a new one added. The RSS Comments link will send an email whenever a comment has been added to a post. To set up an RSS feed is different in each browser and/or email program. The figure at this link, shows what you should see if you click on the Entries RSS button from the Internet Explorer browser. I use Outlook as my email program. When I subscribe to a given web site using the RSS feature, I get notices sent to an RSS folder, not my Inbox whenever that site/blog is updated.  Each browser and email program may require different steps to set up an RSS feed for a given web site or blog.

In a day or so, I will add my first post for the summer, a very quick yet effective wa to make a photo collage.  Stay tuned.