So you have been using Photoshop Elements for some time and are reasonably comfortable with it, at least for the tools and techniques you routinely use.
Why would you want to learn how to use Photoshop CS5? After all, it does have a reputation of having a steep learning curve. To answer that question, here are some points to consider.
Photoshop Elements is Built With the Same Engine Beneath its Hood
Many of the commands and internal routines of Elements are based on or identical to those used in Photoshop. That means that once you get into command, say Levels, the two programs work exactly or nearly the same. A typical scenario is that Photoshop often includes additional sliders within a command to fine tune the results. The basic user interface between classic versions of Elements (pre PSE 11) is quite similar to Photoshop.
Elements and Photoshop Share Many of the Same Tools
The core Tools in the Tool box on the left side of the screen are essentially the same. But again, Photoshop has additional tools and some have options that Elements does not. But if you know how to use a tool in Elements, you will have little trouble adapting to its use in Photoshop.
Photoshop has a Large Number of Presets
These are easy to access and provide essentially one click fixes to the image in a similar way that Elements works. But again, there are more of them. These were added into Photoshop by Adobe, not so much as training wheels, but rather to boost the productivity of a busy photographers. So much for the steep learning curve. To use these presets requires little knowledge.
Photoshop Editing Techniques can Often be Directly Used in Elements
Since Elements supports using capabilities such as Layers, Selections, and Masks, specific techniques on learns using Photoshop, can be directly applied in Elements, or using a simple workaround for a missing command.
The Two Programs Work Well Together
If you use the Organizer in Elements, you can select a photo and send it to Photoshop directly instead of the Editor in Elements. Upon returning, you will have the edited file as part of a Version Set.
So What Does all of this mean?
I will be teaching my Photoshop CS5 and Camera RAW class at the Torrance Adult School in January on Thursday evenings. I will not be teaching the Basic Photo Editing class or the Advanced Photo Editing class using Photoshop Elements this winter.
So, if you have taken the Basic Photo Editing with Elements class and would like to learn some more advanced techniques, the Photoshop CS5 class may be what you are looking for.
Also, as a student you will be able to buy Photoshop CS6 for about $200 instead of the normal $700+.
Please leave any comments or questions you may have in the Comments section below.