Photoshop Elements 9.0.3

If you use Photoshop Elements 9, you’ve probably gotten a nag from the Adobe Updater to install the new 9.0.3 update. However, you may want to think twice about whether or not you want to do this. The update does include some bug fixes and supposedly some improvements for using graphics tablets with PSE, but it also brings one feature that you may not want.

If you’ve been using floating windows for your images, once you apply this update all images will now open in tabs and you’ll have to rip them loose to have them floating again. Every time. Always.

Adobe says:

“In PSE 9, by default behavior if the preference ‘Allow floating Documents in Full Edit Mode’ was checked then the files use to open as floating windows.

In PSE 9.0.3 update, we have changed the behavior that in such a settings the files will open in tabbed view but you can still grab the tab through mouse and pull it out and thus will be able to make it floating window. This was done based on some user feedback.”

So you’re warned. I myself totally don’t believe in the existence of this supposed user, and even if there were such a person (and there can’t possibly be more than one who would want this), it’s just plain silly to change program behavior that isn’t a bug with an update like this.

If you have applied the update and you want to get rid of it, you’ll need to uninstall Elements 9 (this won’t affect your catalog or your photos if you use Organizer) via Control Panel (Windows) or with the uninstaller in Applications>Adobe Photoshop Elements 9.

Then reinstall, but don’t run the update from the Adobe Updater. Instead, go here for Windows:

and here for Mac:

and install the earlier update for your operating system, then ignore the updater when it wants to bring you to 9.0.3.

EDIT 4-20-11: Adobe has set up a web page where you can weigh in with your thoughts on this change, whether you like it or hate it. Tell them here.

AutoPainter Express

If you’re interested in making your photos look like paintings, of course the long-time standard for doing this is Corel Painter, and that’s still the best way to create something that really looks painted. However, it also requires some artistic ability and a high level of skill and has quite a learning curve.

For those who prefer to let the computer do the work, by far the best solution I’ve found is Dynamic Auto Painter from MediaChance. Unfortunately, it’s only available for Windows, which has been a big disappointment to lots of Mac folks.

However, there’s good news: They’ve just come out with a sort of a kind of a version for Mac, called AutoPainter Express, as well as a version of Express for iPhone/iPod. (There’s an iPad version on the way, but it’s not out yet.)

I’m so happy to finally see a Mac version of this program, but unfortunately this one has a long way to go to get to the level of the Windows version. In Windows you have many options for customizing and controlling the result, while the Mac version is limited to four presets. You choose one, and the only other choice you have is to stop it before it’s finished, if you like your painting where it’s at right now and don’t want more work done on it. It’s not a very Mac-like application, either. For example, closing the window closes the program, just like in Windows, and there’s no way to close an image without saving it except by quitting out of the whole thing.

Still, it’s a nice start. Here are examples of what each preset came up with for this photo from a previous entry:

original photo of happyowl clutch

Using the Aquarell preset, described as “Running colors, water droplets, traces and scratches, it’s all there”:

aquarell painting of clutch
Click for larger version.

With the Benson preset, described as “a sunny palette with Mediterranean tones”:

clutch painted with benson preset
Click for larger image.

With the Cezanne preset, described as “warm reds and yellows with quick brush layers and chalk”:

clutch painted with Cezanne preset
Click for larger image.

And finally with the Van Gogh preset, “inspired by the Starry Night painting”:

clutch painted with the Van Gogh preset
Click for larger image.

There’s really quite a lot of detail in the full resolution images afterwards (WordPress won’t accept files that large), and it runs pretty quickly, even on my old C2D iMac.

Are any of these going to deceive people into thinking that you’re a brilliant painter? No, of course not, but they’re handy for created a quick illustrated look. The results vary a lot, depending on the ┬ásource image, but with fussier, more detailed images you’ll often get better results if you run the photo through something like Topaz Simplify first.

While it’s a little disappointing that this app is so basic compared to the Windows version, hopefully this is just the beginning and it won’t be long before there’s parity between the two.

Available in the Mac App Store for $7.99.

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.