Farewell to the Flip

A moment of silence for the Flip video camera. Today, Cisco announced that it’s closing down its Flip camera unit. A pity for the people who’ll be losing their jobs, but this really shouldn’t surprise anyone, since there are so many other ways to take really good quality video these days. Gone are the days when you needed to lug around a separate camera to get halfway decent video.

Most people are familiar with the wonderful little film, Apple of My Eye, shot with the iPhone 4 and edited entirely in iMovie on the iPhone. If you haven’t seen it, you can view it here.

And if you have a newer still camera, the odds are it can do well with video, too. Lots of pro shooting these days is using DSLR, and for a lot of uses you can do some pretty amazing things even with many point and shoot models. Here’s a really useful tutorial on pushing a Canon point and shoot beyond what you might think you can do. Even if you’re not a Canon person you might find some of the tips adaptable to your camera.

Photoshop for iPad?

Well, well, who’d  have thunk it? If you’ve tried Adobe’s Photoshop Express for iPad, you know that it’s not bad, but also not a shining star among the many apps available for gussying up your photos, and not much like either Photoshop or Photoshop Elements.

But according to Photography Bay, Adobe just demoed a new app that’s a kind of Photoshop for iPad with layers and all. You can read more about it and watch a demo here.

Very interesting idea, but I have to wonder how they’ll work around two big problems with this kind of stuff: the white points for iPads are all over the place and there’s currently no way to calibrate one, and it’s hard to be ultra-precise for things like masking when using your finger (or a capacitive stylus). Still, I bet it would be really interesting for quickly editing an image to upload out in the field.

If you currently use PS or PSE and you find masking to be a difficult concept, it’s worth watching the video just to see their animated layers example. Very clear visual of how masking works. (Incidentally, the demo is Flash so you can’t watch it on your iPad.)

Using Bridge with Photoshop Elements 9

A lot of Mac folks are unhappy about Adobe’s decision to include Organizer with Elements 9 in place of Adobe Bridge, which came with previous Mac versions. (The Organizer used to be just for Windows.) If you have an older version of PSE that included Bridge, you can still use it with Elements 9, although there’s one big issue with doing so. More on that in a bit.

One thing that’s going to be different is navigation. Obviously you can’t launch Bridge from  the handy button in the PSE editor’s interface anymore. So just go into your Applications folder, find the Adobe Bridge folder for your version of Bridge, find the Adobe Bridge application itself, and launch it. Then go over to the Dock, and click-hold its icon->Options->Keep in Dock. From now on use the Dock icon to launch Bridge or make it the front application when it’s running.

Choose to keep Bridge in the Dock

If you left your old version of Elements installed when you installed Elements 9, Bridge should work just the same way it always did. As a matter of fact, if you upgraded from PSE 8, Bridge CS4 should automatically choose PSE 9 instead of PSE 8 for all the file formats you had it set to open in Elements.

If for some reason that doesn’t happen, it’s easy to fix: Go to the Bridge preferences:

Location of Bridge preferences menu option

and then choose File Type Associations. Go through and find the various file types you want Bridge to automatically send to Elements, then choose Elements 9 from the pulldown menu to the right of the file name:

choose Elements 9 as the application to open a file type from Bridge
Click for larger image

That’s all there is to it. You can continue to use Bridge just the way you always did.

Now as for the one big issue: The big problem with continuing to use your old copy of Bridge is that you can no longer updater the Bridge version of the raw converter. If you get a new model camera, you won’t see thumbnails for your raw files, only the image names, and you can’t use the Bridge version of the raw converter with those images. But you can still send them to Elements to work on them with the PSE version of the raw converter. (If your PSE 9 raw converter isn’t up to date, just go to Help->Updates and Elements should update it automatically. This is a change from earlier versions of Elements, where you had to install raw converter updates manually.)

If you’d already uninstalled Elements 6 or 8 and you’d still like to use Bridge, just reinstall the older version of Elements and follow the steps above.

If you have Windows and you happen to have Adobe Bridge (maybe you have Illustrator, for example), then you can do more or less the same thing, adjusting for the system differences (no Dock, for instance).

Introducing Photoshop Elements 9

Today’s the day! Photoshop Elements 9 is here, and there are a lot of major new features, so let’s take a look:

Organizer for Mac. People have been begging for this for a long time, and if you’re a Windows switcher, or if you have a household where people are using both Windows computers and Macs, this is going to be really, really helpful.

Mac Organizer
The Organizer for Mac

However, it was evidently a big project to get the Organizer ported over to OS X, so this time around the Mac version is lacking a lot of the favorite features in the Windows version, like the Slide Show Editor, Watched Folders, and Yahoo Maps, for instance. Still, if you’re moving from Windows to Mac, it’s a big help.

To convert your Windows catalog, install Elements 9 on your Windows computer and upgrade your catalog, then back up to a removable hard drive (even a thumb drive, if it will hold your catalog and photos) and then install Elements on your Mac and restore the catalog there. (If you won’t need Elements 9 on the Windows computer anymore, deactivate it and uninstall it once you’ve got everything transferred over, so you won’t be using one of your two activations needlessly.)

Cross Platform. When you buy Elements 9, you get both platform versions (Windows and Mac) on the same disk, so you can install it on two Macs, two Windows computers or one of each. No need to buy the program again to install it on the other platform.

EDIT: Adobe says that you only get a serial number that works with both versions with the boxed version, not the download. They suggest that if you need PSE right away, order the boxed version, then install both trials and enter the serial number from the disc version into the trials once you get it. Also, the boxed version includes two discs, one for each platform.

Layer Masks. If you’ve used Elements before, you know that this is probably THE most requested feature that Elements has been missing since version 1.

layers panel with mask
The blown out sky is masked out, ready for a replacement

Adobe finally listened, and brought them to Elements 9. If you haven’t used Elements before, you won’t understand yet all that this means, but for now suffice it to say that it’s going to make following tutorials written for full Photoshop a whole lot easier, as well as giving you a lot more options for changing your mind about your edits later on. If you’ve used one of the add-on tools to add masks to an earlier version of Elements, you’ll love how much easier it is when they’re built right into the program.

Tip: Elements doesn’t have the Quick Mask, but you can get pretty much the same effect by painting a mask with the Selection brush in Mask mode.

Fun Edits. This is one of my favorite things in the new mobile mifi 2200 Now Guided Edit walks you through creating an Apple style reflection like you see everywhere in ads these days, a Lomo effect, Out of Bounds (where the subject appears to be leaping or moving out of the photo), and a 60s Warhol-style pop art portrait. These are really fun, even for advanced Elements folks.

Content Aware Fill. This was the biggy in Photoshop CS5, and it comes to Elements too, sort of. In Elements it’s only in the Spot Healing Brush and as an option for filling in the edges of a panorama, but at least it’s here.

Style Matching. Did you ever spend hours creating a special look for one of your photos and then wish you could just copy it over to another image? Elements 9 includes a new style merge, which lets you crib the overall look from one image and copy it to another. The results can be pretty unpredictable, but that’s part of the fun.

Getting Social. Finally–finally!–you can upload photos direct to Facebook from Elements. (That sure took long enough!)

New Creations. The whole Create process (for photobooks, cards, collages, etc.) got a major makeover this time. It’s a tad confusing the first time, but now you can do almost anything you can do in Elements as you create a new project, and there’s a heap of new graphics, backgrounds and so on to help you do it, too.

Move that Photo. If you’ve been driven batty by the Elements 8 Print Window, you’ll be happy to know that Elements 9 lets you put your photo where you want it on the page.

So that’s what’s hot in Elements 9. What’s not? Well, if you hate the dark color scheme, you won’t be much happier with Elements 9. Dark again, and no option to change it, although they did work on improving the contrast over Elements 7 and 8. Some old bugs got fixed (you can finally set the frame rate for an animated gif in the Mac version this time, but you can’t edit an existing animated gif), but there are some new ones to make up for it. Each version of Elements seems to make more demands on your operating system, and Elements 9 is no exception. (EDIT Alas, it appears the frame rate problem is back in the version of PSE 9 for Mac that got shipped out. It was fixed at one point.)

So if you have Elements, should you upgrade? For a lot of people Layer Masks alone will be worth it, aside from the other new features, but I’d always suggest downloading the trial version first and giving that a good hard test drive to see if it’s worth it for you and if it runs well on your computer.