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PET News Premier Episode

By Larry Becker  |  February 25th, 2013

This is the first ever episode of “PET News” and there’s all kinds of great news inside! Contests are coming, discounts are here and more are on the way, Photoshop Elements Techniques magazine is changing (for the better) and MORE. Links mentioned in the show are below the video.

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The B&H Discount details
Digital Anarchy tutorial is coming soon, but here’s the discount info…

The popular plug-ins from Digital Anarchy called ToonIt Photo and Beauty Box Photo are each available at a 25% discount by using the code PET25 when checking out. Larry’s tutorial on using and installing plug-ins is coming soon, but if you already know how, feel free to grab either (or both) of these plug-ins at a discount. And keep in mind, there’s a free version so you can try them out before you buy, it just has a watermark on the finished image. So try before you buy and save when you do!

BIG News Coming Monday

By Larry Becker  |  February 22nd, 2013


Hey PET subscribers! Here’s a big announcement:

Starting Monday we’re launching PET News! It will be a regular (bi-weekly) news video all about the world of Photoshop Elements Techniques. We’ll keep you posted on all the cool stuff that’s happening and trust me, LOTS of new stuff is coming. For example, we’ve added a few discounts but we have more on the way! We already have great video tips but more are on the way. And did I mention contests and great giveaways? Well, now you know there will be all kinds of reasons to pay attention to So come back Monday for the premier episode of PET News right here on the site. See you then!!

Get Organized With The Organizer, Part 2

By Elizabeth  |  February 15th, 2013

In part 2 of Jeff Carlson’s series, he’ll teach you about how to tag your images, use groups and albums, and how to remove pesky, unwanted images.

3. Tag Images

Ratings will help you find images you deem good or poor, but that’s just one aspect of a photo. You want to be able to quickly locate any photo later, not wade through everything—even if you’re looking at just the good stuff. Keyword tags spotlight the content of your images, not just their quality.

Unlike rating images, however, assigning keyword tags is a bit more work (and a bit less fun), which is why many people skip right past this step. But it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s possible to tag many images at once, and speed up the process so you gain all the benefits later when you’re trying to find specific images.

I approach tagging in two steps. First, I recommend tagging photos in bulk as much as possible, assigning them broad categories like “vacation” or “camping.” (You can add more specific tags to photos later, if you want.) Then, I enlist the Organizer’s help in identifying characteristics such as poor exposure or blur, as well as locating shots with people in them.

To start, choose Find > Untagged Items and select a group of photos you want to tag.

In the Keyword Tags panel, type one or more tag names, separated by commas, into the Tag Selected Media field (called the Add Custom Keywords field in Elements 11). Click the Apply button to assign the tags to the selected images. Any tags that don’t already exist in your Keyword Tags list are automatically created. If you prefer to use the mouse, drag a tag icon from the Keyword Tags panel onto one of the selected photos to apply it to all of them.


Apply multiple tags to your images at once by typing them in.


Tags appear below each photo thumbnail. In this example, two tag icons appear because the tags belong to separate tag groups.

As always, I want the Organizer to do much of the work for me, so after I apply tags manually, I turn to two features that automatically assign some helpful tags.

First, the Auto Analyzer scans your library and applies smart tags based on what it finds in each image, such as whether shots are blurred, over- or under-exposed, and other attributes. You’ll find the Auto Analyzer option in the Preferences dialog. To access it, choose Edit>Preferences (Mac: Adobe Elements Organizer>Preferences). In the Preferences dialog, click Media-Analysis from the column on the left. Then, under the Auto Analyzer Options, check the Analyze Media for Smart Tags Automatically option. To scan your entire catalog, click OK. If you’d like to scan only a range of photos, select them and then choose Edit>Run Auto-Analyzer (Elements 8–10; Elements 9–10 for Mac) or File>Run Auto-Analyzer (Elements 11). Media analysis takes a while, so it’s probably something you want to run overnight, especially if you’re scanning a year’s worth of photos.

When the analysis is complete, a purple tag appears beneath the photos; hover over the tag icon or double-click the photo to reveal what the Organizer found. You can then select a smart tag in the Keyword Tags panel (called just the Tags panel in Elements 11) to view only photos with that tag, and remove or hide shots that are problematic.


The Organizer can analyze photos automatically.


Smart tags applied.


A list of different Smart Tags you can use.

The other tagging tool I use is the Organizer’s feature for locating people. If you’ve used the Organizer’s people tags before, you may be rolling your eyes that I would suggest a feature that has the potential to suck away vast quantities of free time. If so, I offer a suggestion: Tag only the handful of people who are important to you. Don’t worry about maintaining an encyclopedia of everyone who’s passed before your lens.

In Elements 10 and earlier, click the Start People Recognition button in the Keyword Tags panel, or choose Find>Find People For Tagging. In Elements 11, click the Add People button in the task bar at the bottom of the screen. The Organizer locates photos with faces in them, and asks you to identify them.


Elements 10 tucks the Start People Recognition button into the Keyword Tags panel.


Elements 11 includes a prominent Add People button in the task bar.


In asking to identify people, the Organizer already suspects it might be someone.


Elements identifies people in new photos, so you don’t have to confirm each one.

The advantage of this feature is that once you’ve successfully tagged folks, the Organizer does a good job of identifying them in other pictures—with a little manual work on your part. The next time you add a batch of photos to the library, run the Find People for Tagging (or Add People) command on the newcomers. This time around, the Organizer identifies possible matches and gives you the option of excluding ones that are incorrect. When it asks you to identify other people, you can click Cancel to skip the step (unless you want to include those folks, too). Later, when you’re looking for an embarrassing photo of your brother, you can quickly bring up everything he’s in.


4. Group Images into Albums

I think of albums in their analog incarnation—paper books that contain a selection of photos pulled from a shoebox (or drawer, or cabinet, or steamer trunk). As such, I find myself creating albums only for specific events that I want to refer to later, rather than trying to organize everything into discrete albums.

When I do create an album, though, I like this trick: Instead of creating an empty album and then dragging photos into it, select all (or most) of the photos first, and then click the Add (+) button in the Albums panel and choose New Album. Everything selected is added to the album, so all you have to do is give it a name and click Done.

A digital album doesn’t need to have the same permanence that a physical one does, however. I mentioned earlier that it’s best to finish rating photos before editing them to avoid getting bogged down. Here’s a tip: Create a temporary album and, as you review, add photos that you definitely want to go back and edit, so you don’t have to scan your library again later on (even if the images are already set apart by their star ratings). This approach lets you stay focused on organizing, and gives you a handful of images you can start editing when you’re done.


Selected photos are automatically added to a new album.


Hovering over the Album icon next to your thumbnails will reveal what album it’s a part of.


5. Remove Unwanted Images

And now we come to the “clean up” portion of the new-year cleanup. You can push toys into the corners of your room for only so long before you run out of space or can’t open the closet door. Although it’s unlikely you’re going to run out of disk space for your photos (and you can easily buy a larger hard disk), the clutter can get in the way.

Using some of the techniques I’ve outlined, identify the photos that can be deleted, hidden, or archived. If you want to deal with the rejects in one step, create a temporary album into which you can sweep the photos you locate using the following options:

  • If you haven’t already, locate duplicates.
  • Use the smart album or saved search you created to view all unrated photos.
  • Click the name of a smart tag, like Blur, to review only those shots to see if they’re keepers (with interesting potential) or just shooting errors you want to remove.

How you act on these files is a personal choice. I used to think I should keep everything, just in case that out-of-focus shot of the top of my shoe might turn out to be a masterpiece of surrealistic color. In that case, hiding the photos is the solution: Select the images and choose Edit>Visibility>Mark As Hidden. This command effectively removes them from your library without actually trashing the files.

However, even in an age when hard disk storage is relatively cheap, I realize I don’t need to keep all my crummy photos. To remove them, select them and press Delete. You’ll be asked to confirm that you want to remove the images from the catalog and given the option to also delete them from the hard disk.

Or, there’s a middle-ground option. Create an archive by dragging the photos from the Organizer’s window to a new folder on your desktop (or on another disk or network volume) and then delete the originals from your catalog.


Clean Sweep for a New Year

Whether you’re actually sorting photos at the start of a new calendar year or just stealing time during a long weekend, you’ll end up with a cleaner library that contains the photos you want to see, organized in ways that make it easy to locate specific shots. Most important, you won’t have a chaotic library waiting for you when you start importing new batches of images.



Jeff Carlson is the author of Adobe Photoshop Elements 11: Visual QuickStart Guide (2012; Peachpit Press) and all editions of the book back to Version 5, as well as The iPad for Photographers. He’s also a columnist for the Seattle Times and believes there’s never enough coffee.

Get Organized With The Organizer, Part 1

By Diana K  |  February 10th, 2013

If you’re like me, last year’s photos are cluttering up your Elements library, the good shots buried amid those you probably don’t want to scroll through—or even keep. You probably never rated and tagged all those shots when you imported them, putting it off until another day when you’d have some free time.

Well, that day has arrived. But it doesn’t have to be the massive undertaking that it seems. Here’s a five-point strategy for cleaning up your library in the Organizer that will make it easy to locate good photos, hide or remove unwanted photos, and begin a new year of capturing images. Feel free, however, to skip those parts of the process that aren’t important to you. The goal is to make it easier to find the photos you care about, not to have the process overwhelm your life.

Throughout this article, I’ve assumed you’re using Elements 10 or another fairly recent version. For those of you who’ve upgraded to Elements 11, which features a revamped look and feel, I’ve also noted where commands or interface items have changed.

Read more »

Introducing Michelle Stelling of

By Elizabeth  |  February 8th, 2013


All of us here at Photoshop Elements Techniques are pleased to welcome Michelle Stelling of the National Association of Digital Scrapbookers ( to our team of video authors and contributing writers. Her first video, an Introduction to Digital Scrapbooking, is live on our Video Tutorial page and will be the first of many on the subject!

Michelle, a wife and mother living in Colorado, took a few moments to answer some of my questions about how she got involved with photography and the digital scrapbooking world:


Read more »

B&H deals for PET subscribers!

By Larry Becker  |  February 4th, 2013


There’s no question that photography is a big part of the Photoshop Elements community. And there’s no question that B&H Photo in New York is the single biggest camera and photo gear vendor in the world. So we’re thrilled the B&H has agreed to provide a special level of customer service and shipping just for Photoshop Elements Techniques subscribers.

As a customer myself, I wasn’t surprised to hear that B&H was recently voted number 1 in customer service for ALL Internet retailers by Consumer Reports. The other great thing is that their prices are amazingly competitive. So how can you top that?

Well, let’s start with a special toll free number just for Photoshop Elements Techniques subscribers. It’s 800-661-7594. And on top of that, they’ll give free shipping to every PET member in the continental US. While it’s true that many of their products are marked as “free shipping,” the free shipping for our subscribers is upgraded free shipping and your orders will get there even faster. And with the special 800 number, you’ll talk to a product specialist who knows all about the special deals just for our subscribers.

So if you’re in the market for ANYTHING related to photography, including computers, software, used gear, point and shoots, high end DSLRs, bags, etc. you need check out B&H and then use your special priority service order number. Now you’ve got friends at the biggest camera store on the planet!

Cheatsheets are up!

By Elizabeth  |  January 8th, 2013

After a bit of a delay, cheatsheets for the last 3 videos are live on the site! Note that this does not include Lesa Snider’s Flawless Fades video, as it is linked to her magazine article from November/December 2012. That one is here.

If you’d like to take a look, visit the Related Links below!

January/February issue online

By Rick LePage  |  January 2nd, 2013

v10-n1-500pxJust a quick note to let PET subscribers know that the January/February 2013 issue — the first of our 10th year!!! — is now online and downloadable as a PDF.

If you’re a print magazine subscriber, issues started mailing December 21. US subscribers should receive their copies by January 7. Canadian subscribers should receive their issues by January 15; delivery worldwide should be complete by January 22.

If you’re missing your issue after the dates listed above, send us a note via our contact form on the website. (If you subscribed after December 6, 2012, note that our second mailing will go out from the printer in late January for an early February delivery. After that, you’ll be on the schedule for the initial mailing.)

We’re working on a true digital version of the magazine for later this year, so stay tuned for that and lots more!

Emailing P.E.T. Customer Support

By Tom  |  December 14th, 2012

We just finished switching to a new email server, and if you sent us a message or request between the time we unplugged our old server and plugged in the new one, your message may have bounced back.

We have now completed the whole process and everything is working smoothly!

If you have a question or concern and haven’t heard back from us since last night, please send another message to

We’re here and happy to help, and thank you for your continued support!

Finding the Elements manual (Elements 11 update)

By Rick LePage  |  December 7th, 2012

The most common question (complaint, really) that we hear from new Photoshop Elements users is, “Why isn’t there a manual? And, why isn’t it in the box?”

We’re not Adobe, so we can’t answer the why, but we do tell people that Adobe does provide a solid help system for Elements. Plus, if you want something a bit more traditional, you can download a PDF of the full manual online. I thought it would be good to post the locations of the online help areas–which include links for downloading the PDFs for the most recent versions.
Read more »

Making a Photo Book with Blurb Books – Quick Tip + Discount

By Dave  |  December 4th, 2012


One of the nicest ways to display our work is to put together collections of photos in books, and there are a number of online options for getting this done with varying degrees of complexity.

We have a deal with a little company called Blurb Books that will give PET subscribers a 25 percent discount on orders placed before December 16. Use the discount code KLBYVID456.

In the video above, Matt Kloskowski walks us through the process of laying out your book, but if you’re planning on doing it, select and export the images you want to use from your Elements Organizer to a new folder on your computer. That way when it’s time to upload your photos to your book, you can put them all up at once.

Build your book here:
Promo code: KLBYVID456


Offer valid through December 16, 2012 (11:59 p.m. local time). A 25 percent discount is applied toward your product total. Valid for printed books only. This offer is good for one-time use, and cannot be combined with volume discounts, other promotional codes, gift cards, or used for adjustments on previous orders.

Water Photo Challenge: Top Picks

By Elizabeth  |  November 28th, 2012

Thank you to all the photographers who participated in our September Photo Challenge. We were stunned by the splashes, sprays and speckles that entered our ‘Water’ competition. Here are the finalists who stood out to our judges.

Read more »

Landscape Photo Challenge: Top Picks

By Elizabeth  |  November 22nd, 2012

Thank you to all the photographers who participated in our August Photo Challenge. With such a classic photographic topic, we saw some exceptional examples! Here are the finalists who stood out to our judges.

Read more »

November Photo Challenge: Square

By Elizabeth  |  November 2nd, 2012

Cooper by Elizabeth LePage

Square format photography has been one of the most popular forms of the craft since the early 1900’s and has become truly quintessential. When the twin lens Rolleiflex camera was first introduced in 1929, square composition exploded – both in the commercial and amateur worlds. Photographers such as Richard Avedon and Diane Arbus were made famous not just by their unbelievable eyes for the world around them, but were also captivating just by taking off a little space on the edges of an image. Cameras went from advanced medium formats, such as the original Hasselblad 1600F (used by many top professional photographers) to the introduction of ‘toy cameras’ such as the Holga and Diana. When metal-framed 35mms were still expensive, cheap square format cameras were accessible to anyone with $20 to spare.

Who knew something so simple could improve a photograph and its artistry? When looking at an image that’s square, the viewer’s eye goes around the whole image in a circle, honing in on its focus. This can help get rid of superfluous elements, changing the way you shoot and process.

Brian by Elizabeth LePage

For the month of November, take a moment to readjust how you look through that viewfinder. Take out an antique medium format and shoot a roll of 120 black and white film. Visit your local camera store, buy or borrow a square format plastic camera and experiment for some zany results. Use your digital camera and mentally slice up your photo before you start the editing process – just because you’re taking photos in rectangles, think about how you would crop your image before you take it. Or pull out that smart phone and install Instagram – with the introduction of this free app (for iPhones and Androids alike), square format is making a beautiful comeback. Test not only the format of your image, but also the film-inspired filters that you can apply to your photos as well!

iPhone Photos of Portland, Oregon by Elizabeth LePage

To participate in the November Photo Challenge, simply upload your image to either the PET Subscriber Gallery or the Elements Village Gallery between November 1st and December 1st. Remember that photos should be taken within the challenge month.

Please be sure to place the phrase “Photo-Challenge” exactly as shown (without the quotes) in the Keywords field if uploading to the Elements Village Gallery, or in the Caption field if uploading to the PET Gallery. This is how we identify images intended for the challenge. If you’re having trouble figuring out the process, check out our Contests page, which offers more detailed instructions, as well as screenshots.

The possibilities are truly endless, so get out there and shoot!

November/December issue and extras online

By Rick LePage  |  October 30th, 2012

Just a quick note to let everyone know that the digital edition of the November/December issue has been posted in the Magazine section of the Photoshop Elements Techniques website, along with the sample files and other online extras.

If you’re a print magazine subscriber, issues started mailing from the printer on October 26. We hope that most US subscribers should receive their copies by November 8, although Hurricane Sandy might cause some delivery delays on the East Coast. If you’re in Canada, you should receive your issues by November 16, and we anticipate that delivery worldwide will be completed by November 23.

The gorgeous cover image was shot in Southeastern Oregon by subscriber Lori Ziegenhagen. Thanks for letting us use your photo, Lori!

Food Photo Challenge: Top Picks

By Elizabeth  |  October 15th, 2012

Thank you to all the photographers who participated in our July Photo Challenge – hopefully all the food was just as delicious as it was gorgeous! We saw some extremely interesting ideas for how everyone interprets the concept of food.  Here are the finalists who stood out to our judges.
Read more »

2013 calendar templates online

By Rick LePage  |  October 9th, 2012

The 2014 calendar template are available here.

It’s that time of year: for pumpkins, fall foliage and yes, calendar templates. We’ve uploaded the 2013 calendar files for one of our longtime reader-favorite articles, “Quick and Easy Calendars from Templates,” which originally ran in the November/December 2009 issue of Photoshop Elements Techniques. This year’s set has 11 different templates, including a triplet-style (for quarterly calendar pages), three styles for CD jewel-case-style calendars, an old-style template, and both portrait- and landscape-oriented templates. We’ve also included the Photoshop Elements page template for the jewel case.

You can download the templates via this link. Just save the ZIP file on your computer, and double-click it (or use a utility like WinZip) to decompress it. The instructions in the article show you some ideas for creating your own calendar pages, but essentially, all you need to do to add a month to an Elements document is use the File > Place command, navigate to the PDF template you would like to use, open it and choose the month from the ‘Place PDF’ dialog box that follows. Click OK, and it will put the month into your document on a new layer as a Smart Object.

Once you’ve placed your month, you can resize it, move it and apply other adjustments to it as desired. And, because it’s a Smart Object, you can continue to resize it until you have it just the way you’d like it to be. Note that some versions of Photoshop Elements place the template page at a pretty large size on-screen. You might have to use Ctrl– (Mac: Command–) [that’s the ‘minus’, or ‘dash’ key on your keyboard] to change the Zoom view so that you can resize the page template.

If you’d like help with the jewel case template, check out last year’s blog post about the templates: there are tips and screen shots there for creating an awesome, personalized gift.


October Photo Challenge: Fresh Perspective

By Elizabeth  |  October 4th, 2012

“Spencer at the Carnival,” by Elizabeth LePage

One of my favorite quotes by a photographer is by Ansel Adams: “A good photograph is knowing where to stand.” It’s such a simple idea, and still rings true all these decades later. Even though he was born into a world of emulsion-coated glass plates and cameras over triple the size of the ones we use today, Adams knew that sometimes, all we need is to take a step back (or up, or down, or sideways!) and get a fresh perspective.

Sometimes, we get bogged down in a typical way of shooting. We are constantly sticking our cameras up to our own eye-level and surveying the world from a single vantage point. In the process, a lot can be missed – a beautifully crafted ceiling, the close up of a cat’s whiskers, how everything appears bigger when you shoot from foot-level, the depth of a landscape from a higher viewpoint, lacking focus to get a lovely bokeh of city lights. Many of our favorite photographs are unexpected, ones that break the mold of conventional photography and really get you wondering – how did they shoot that?

For the month of October, take your camera out and find a way to get a fresh perspective – on an old scene you’ve photographed before or a completely new idea that you’ve been antsy to try. Give your camera some new angles to try out, instead of just keeping it at eye-level. Crouch down and shoot from a lower vantage point than you’re used to. Climb up high and shoot from a bird’s eye view. Get up close and personal, instead of staying at arm’s length. Take a look above you, below you or behind you and shoot something you may have never glanced at. Try out a brand new lens that you might not be used to (fish-eyes can be fun!), blow the dust off that film camera and take a few chances with some one-shot wonders (they still develop film, including scanning it onto a CD for you!), come up with a conceptual image instead of just pointing and shooting (try creating a funky, home-made set).

“Through the Weeds,” by Elizabeth LePage

To participate in the October Photo Challenge, simply upload your image to either the PET Subscriber Gallery or the Elements Village Gallery between October 1st and November 1st. Remember that photos should be taken within the challenge month.

Please be sure to place the phrase “Photo-Challenge” exactly as shown (without the quotes) in the Keywords field if uploading to the Elements Village Gallery, or in the Caption field if uploading to the PET Gallery. This is how we identify images intended for the challenge. If you’re having trouble figuring out the process, check out our Contests page, which offers more detailed instructions, as well as screenshots.
The possibilities are truly endless, so get out there and shoot!

Photoshop Elements 11 Arrives

By Kelly  |  September 24th, 2012

It’s that time of year, my friends! The leaves are changing, the air is turning cooler, and a new version of Photoshop Elements has made its debut.

Photoshop Elements 11, which is available for Windows and the Mac, marks a significant departure from recent versions. Adobe has spent the past year—longer, in fact—completely redesigning the program’s interface to make it more approachable. There’s also a very welcome improvement to the program’s compositing tools, an interesting selection of new guided edits and filters, and several new options for viewing your image library in the Organizer. Here’s a closer look at some of the biggest changes. (To see many of these new features in action, be sure to check out the video collection in our Elements 11 Learning Center.)
Read more »

September Photo Challenge: Water

By Kelly  |  September 6th, 2012

To kids, water is nothing short of magical. You can drink it, swim in it, even walk on it if it gets cold enough. Shine a light through it at just the right angle and you’ll see a rainbow. Perhaps most amazing of all, the stuff might fall from the sky at any moment.


“Water” by Damien Weidner (Flickr)

This versatility also makes water a great source of inspiration for photographers. It can flow through a scene in a dreamy haze or freeze mid-splash so each drop gleams like a little jewel. It clings to webs, turns distant mountains white, and provides a beautiful resting spot for a setting sun. Catch it at the right angle and it’ll even reflect our own world back at us.

Read more »

Learn Elements Today!

Learn Elements Today DVD boxIf you’re looking for the quickest way to get up to speed with Adobe Photoshop Elements 13 (or earlier versions, both Windows and Mac), check out our "Learn Elements Today" training course DVD. Our gurus will help you use Elements to take your photos from good to Great!

Who Are We?

We are Photo One Media, a small company based in lovely Portland, Oregon. Our passion is helping people create, enhance, and share photos; designing cards, calendars, books and scrapbooks; and getting the most out of your digital camera.

Photo Elements Techniques is a magazine and website devoted to helping folks get the most out of Adobe Photoshop Elements. Subscribers get six feature-packed issues per year, with weekly tutorial videos and more on this site. If you would like to see the magazine for yourself, you can get two free sample issues.

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