The world of photography has changed massively over the past few years, and we’re not just talking about Instagram.

Sure, Instagram did something to democratize the expectation that all photos should look “special.” But hardware, including mobile phone cameras and consumer-grade point-and-shoots, has revolutionized the skill level needed to take great images.

Today, Adobe is responding to that shift with a whole new version of Photoshop Elements, its entry-level photo editing software.

Traditionally, this app has been a stripped-down, super basic version of Photoshop. You couldn’t do much with it, and it didn’t give you too much room to learn and grow (and eventually work your way up to Photoshop proper).

Today’s release introduces a bunch of new features: group albums, advanced editing, tools for organizing your mobile pics, and of course, filters. Photoshop Elements 12 is, in short, the perfect companion for the consumer-photographer who wants to up her game, from workflows to finished photos.

“For Elements, we used to just strip out the features and sell it for less,” said Elements product manager Bob Gager in a meeting with VentureBeat.

“But over the past few years, we’ve done something very different. It’s still easy to use and easy to get started, but now it isn’t limiting. There’s headroom to grow. [Users] don’t hit a wall as their skills increase.”

Here’s a look at some of the new components of Elements 12:

  • The software’s photo organizer now has a new section called Mobile Albums, which works with the Adobe Revel app on iOS devices. Mobile Albums are available anywhere to create, access, organize, and add pictures to. Albums also sync automatically, and camera phone pics and videos are added to the organizer automatically. Android users can access the mobile web version of Revel and get all the same features.
  • The beginner-level editing mode now has a small range of filters, textures, and frames, which used to be buried in Expert mode. Now that consumers have been “trained” on these features by apps like Instagram, Adobe wanted to make those features one-click simple. “We’ve taken the top ten most popular looks from our users and brought them to life,” said Gager. “For novice users, this is exactly the kind of thing they want to do, they want to get creative without having to work to hard at it.”
  • Guided Mode, the intermediate tab that gives users Elements tutorials along with new features, has a few new tutorials. The most interesting to us is a tool to restore old photographs by fixing tears and discolorations in vintage print photos.
  • Expert Mode, the top tier for experienced Elements users, has a content-aware tool for straightening crooked pics. It’s also got a content-aware move tool, which lets you select and move any object/person in a picture, then Elements fills in the empty space “magically” with content that matches the surrounding pixels.
  • Expert Mode also has a special checkbox just for correcting those spooky “demon eyes” that pop up in photos of pets and adjusting tones in a picture. The latter feature also gets “smarter” based on your preference over time.
  • Premiere Elements, the video side of the software, has a slew of new features, such as object tracking, tutorials, four new “film” looks, and a huge library of music that can be dragged and dropped into a clip — and that automatically adjusts in length to exactly fit the clip, awkward fade-out not included.

“The Elements products serve the consumer audience,” said Gager. “They like the capabilities that a lot of the pro tools have, and with Elements, we’re bringing those to life in a very consumer-friendly way.”


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