Years ago, when I was first learning the ropes of digital photography, there were few things I enjoyed less about editing than having to make selections. For one thing, they were hard, requiring infinite patience and a steady hand. But also, selections seemed like something akin to a parlor trick—swap a head here, add a third eye there, magically relocate everyone to a sandy beach. I’ve never really been one for gags.
So it’s funny that today selections (and their close cousin, layer masks) are such an integral part of my editing process. Why the change of heart? For one thing, selection tools have come a long way in recent years, making the process far less time-consuming. Also, I discovered that there’s much more to selections than just goofy compositing tricks. Want to lighten one part of an image without messing with the rest? Need a quick vignette to help focus attention? Looking to subtly blur your background to fake a shallow depth of field? These are just a few of the wonders that selections can do. So yeah, call me a convert.
Considering the staring role selections play in so many editing tasks, it’s perhaps no surprise they appear repeatedly in this month’s issue. To start, Elements guru Matt Kloskowski offers a hands-on tour of the various selection tools and their uses—as well as several step-by-step tutorials for common selection tasks (page 11). Matt has a wonderful knack for making even complex selections seem effortless. Once you’re done with the basics, Diana Day offers another interesting use for selections: turning photos into silhouettes (page 24). They even pop up in our tips for putting Elements 10’s new text-on-a-path tools to work (page 31). If you’ve felt intimidated by the variety and scope of selection tools in Elements, or wondered how to put them to better use in your own images, I hope this issue gives you the confidence to keep exploring.
The image on the cover was shot by subscriber Dan DellaChiesa. Dan says that the flower caught his eye as he was taking out the garbage, and despite some reservations about the fading light, he decided to give it a try anyway. He edited the JPEG in Camera Raw, added some texture to it, and then finished with a Photoshop Essentials 3 frame. Here at Photoshop Elements Techniques, we’re always on the lookout for great shots by subscribers. If you’d like to be considered, be sure to submit your best recent work to Subscriber Showcase or one of the monthly photo challenges (see page 35 for details).
I hope your spring is off to a wonderful start. The whole world seems to be waking up at the moment—make sure your camera is ready to go.