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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.

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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.
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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.)
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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.

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September/October issue update

By Rick LePage  |  August 27th, 2012

The September/October 2012 issue of Photoshop Elements Techniques has left the printer and should be winging its way around the US and far-flung reaches of the globe. Subscribers in the US should receive their issues by September 6, and in Canada by September 14. Worldwide mailing should completed by September 22.

The PDF of the issue for all print and digital subscribers will be available for download from our Magazine page on Saturday, September 1.

Once you receive your issue, don’t forget to check out our Extras/Downloads page to find the sample files for five of the tutorials in the magazine. You can also find all of the website links mentioned in the issue from our September/October Linked List page.

If you haven’t received your issue (or any issue, for that matter) by its estimated mailing deadline for your area, drop us a note via our Contact Us page. Include your name, address, and which issue you’re missing, and we’ll put a replacement copy in the mail right away.

P.E.T. website refreshed!

By Tom  |  August 20th, 2012

If you tried to log in on Saturday or Sunday, you probably saw a “Website down for maintenance” notice on the home page. We’re sorry about the inconvenience, and thank you for your patience as we fine tune the last details.
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Portrait Photo Challenge: Top Picks

By Kelly  |  August 15th, 2012

Thank you to all the photographers who participated in our June Photo Challenge—as well as to all the patient friends and loved-ones who agreed to sit still long enough for the shutter to snap. We saw many wonderful and creative interpretations of what makes a portrait. Here are the finalists who stood out to our judges.
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August Photo Challenge: Landscapes

By Kelly  |  August 6th, 2012

Icelandic landscape 13

“Icelandic landscape 13″ by shchukin, on Flickr

Many of our recent challenges have focused on practicing our close-up skills, so it’s nice to take a step back every now and then to look at the big picture.

This month, get out and celebrate the natural world with a great landscape photo. Keep in mind that you don’t have to be in an exotic land to get  great landscape shots. With a little creativity, you can often find interesting spots fairly close to home: a playground at dusk, a local running trail in the morning light, even a long, straight stretch of road can make for a compelling shot.
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Architecture Photo Challenge: Top Picks

By Kelly  |  July 26th, 2012

Our May Photo Challenge gave us glimpses of many interesting homes, buildings, architectural details, and engineering wonders. Here are the images that stood out to our panel of judges.
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July Photo Challenge: Food

By Kelly  |  June 30th, 2012

Blackberry Cobbler

Blackberry Cobbler by Back to the Cutting Board, on Flickr

I admit to being the type of person who buys cookbooks based solely on how pretty the photos are. A beautifully executed shot of blackberry cobbler covered in ice cream? That’s not just fruit and sugar, my friends. To me, that is the joy of summer and family vacations gone-by wrapped up in a single mouthwatering image.

For the month of July, see if you can capture your own beautiful food shots. Keep in mind that you don’t have to personally cook the food that you photograph. Bring your camera to the local farmer’s market, bakery, or ice cream store to find your own inspiration. Or consider this your excuse to track down the perfect summer cocktail. You can call it research.

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Animals Photo Challenge: Top Picks

By Kelly  |  June 18th, 2012

When we decided to dedicate the April Photo Challenge to our furry and feathered friends, we had no idea just how much of the animal kingdom we’d get to see. In addition to many wonderful and humorous shots of dogs and cats, we were also treated to wrinkled elephants, lazy lions, curious cows, mesmerizing jellyfish, and much more. It was truly a treat judging this month’s entries. Kudos to everyone who participated!

Here are the images that got the top votes from our judges.
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June Photo Challenge: Portrait

By Kelly  |  June 7th, 2012

"workstation" by striatic

"workstation" by striatic

As a photographer, I find that one of the hardest things to do is capture a really great portrait. For one thing, we humans aren’t great at sitting still. We blink. We fidget. We look in the wrong direction. Heck, I’m lucky if I can even keep my son in the same room as the camera.

Perhaps this is why I’m so drawn to successful portraits—images that really seem to capture the spirit and personality of the person being photographed. I know how much work likely went into getting that deceptively simple shot.

This month, try to capture an interesting portrait of someone in your life. It can be a family member, a friend, your favorite barista—even yourself.

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Close-Up Photo Challenge: Top Picks

By Kelly  |  May 24th, 2012

The March Photo Challenge let us get up close and personal with some stunning flowers, bugs, textures, and rain drops. It was a great collection, and we definitely had a tough time narrowing down our winners. Many of our top picks stood out not only for their composition and selective focus, but also for the interesting story or intimate feelings they suggested to us.

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May Photo Challenge: Architecture

By Kelly  |  May 9th, 2012

I know that we are very behind on posting winners to our March Photo Challenge. I promise it hasn’t been forgotten! As Rick mentioned the most recent newsletter, I’ve been on a bit of an adventure the last few weeks. Specifically, I’ve been busy moving my family from our beloved, foggy San Francisco Bay all the way to New York City. (I’m just hoping that my sanity got packed away in one of the many unmarked boxes waiting for me.) But we will have the March winners posted soon, with April winners quickly following. Thank you all for being patient.

Now on to May! The theme for this month’s Photo Challenge is Architecture. Take a closer look at the buildings, homes, and other structures around you this month. Try to see them in a new way. In particular, keep an eye out for interesting angles, repeating patterns, and unusual perspectives.

* by Peter Writer (PeterWriter) on

*, by Peter Writer (

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May/June issue & April Editor’s Note online

By Rick LePage  |  April 30th, 2012

The May/June issue is in the mails, winging its way around the world. US subscribers should receive their copies by May 10, Canadian subscribers by May 15, and delivery worldwide should be complete by May 22. The extras for the magazine have been posted, as has the full PDF; you can find those files and the magazine’s link list on the May/June 2012 issue page.

The cover photo for May/June is from subscriber Dan DellaChiesa. Congrats, Dan, on a lovely shot!

This past week, we also sent out the April Letter from the Editor email, which includes notes about our new email notifications system–check out the “Get PET Site Updates” box on the bottom right side of this window–and the magazine mailing schedule for the rest of 2012.

If you have your email preferences set so that you don’t want email from us, you can find the April edition on our From the Editor home page. If you didn’t get the email, check to make sure that it didn’t get trapped in your junk folder, or double-check to make sure that we have your correct email address on file, by logging into the site and clicking on the Profile link next to your username above.

April Photo Challenge: Animals

By Kelly  |  April 3rd, 2012

For many of us, our pets hold a special place in the family—at times ranking a few notches higher even than some of the two-legged members. I remember many mornings as a child waking up to find my dog snuggled under the covers with me, her head resting on my pillow a few inches from mine.

hello, kitty

Hello, kitty by bloomgal, on Flickr

For the month of April, your challenge is to capture a good photo of the furry, feathered, or scaly members of your household. Don’t have an animal friend at home? Take this as an opportunity to visit a local zoo, aquarium, or dog park—or to simply take a long walk with your eyes open to the tiny creatures all around us.

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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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