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Adobe Photoshop Express beta

Adobe Photoshop ExpressIn this post Peter Carey takes a look at the new Adobe Photoshop Express.

Adobe is entering the online photo storage and editing field with its latest entry Photoshop Express, still in beta testing. The product looks to be a strong offshoot of the popular image editing software many of us rely upon. At the current time the service is free, but what can it do? Let’s take a look.

HOW IT WORKSClick to view larger image

First and foremost, Express is an online tool. Current limits for storage stand at 2GB and only JPG files are accepted, noting TIFF and other files tend to be too large. Size limit is 4000×4000 and 10MB. Assuming the average JPG is about 2.5MB, you will be able to store about 800 images online. To me, this seems a bit small but the program is still in beta. If gmail is any indication of storage growth, more space should be available in the future, possibly for a fee if you’re a poweruser.

The screenshot at right is taken from the Test Drive portfolio which anyone can play with. It is located here and will give you a useful demo of what the service has to offer. The look of the site is muted in order to let your photos take center stage. The screen is thankfully clutter free, presenting just the tools needed in an orderly fashion.

You’ll first need to register for the service, which is currently only open to US residents. Once your account is setup and you have chosen your personal sharing URL (e.g. http://something.photoshop.com), you can start uploading and playing with your photos. The service would be just another photosharing site if it wasn’t for the handy tools Adobe is packing into this product.

TOOLS A PLENTY

Photoshop Express first presents the most basic of tools with just a single click of a picture. Referring to the image above, these are

  • Edit (more on that powerful option in a moment)
  • Rotate
  • Email Photo
  • Link
  • Embed (in a blog, webpage, Facebook or other service)
  • Download

These are the quick and easy tasks performed with a click or two of the mouse. The meat and potatoes of the product is located in the first item, Edit Image.

EDITING POWER

Click for a larger image

The screen shot at left highlights the Edit screen. What makes this tool so useful is the real time previews at the top of the screen. In the example at left I have selected the White Balance option and the service presents me with a strip of different options above the photograph. Each box will represent a different White Balance, beginning with Auto then Sunlight then Cloudy and so on. Even better than the small previews, when I hover my mouse over a preview, the main image takes on that setting so I can see better what the result will be. If I like what I see, one click of the mouse transforms my image losslessly, meaning I can always click the multi-step Undo button at the bottom of the screen to return to my original image (keyboard shortcuts such as Ctrl+Z do not work with this service).

The Touchup tool leverages automatic Healing Brush like qualities making dust removal and slight changes a snap. After dragging a circle over the area needing Touchup, the service will automatically pick the most likely spot to help mask over the blemish, while noting it on the screen. If the sampling spot isn’t acceptable, click the sample circle and drag it to an appropriate area of the photo. Multiple Touchups are possible for a particularly messy photograph. Click to view larger image

Pop Color is a fun tool allowing for the isolation of one particular color in the image while turning the rest to grayscale. After the color is selected, other options are presented at the top of the photo allowing for color swaps for some interesting effects. In the example at right, I have taken out the green and replaced it with a lovely pink, while other options are presented along the top. While not an every day tool, fun options like this make it easy to spice up an image.

Other standard editing tools are available and work remarkably well:

  • Crop & Rotate (with a very handy Straighten feature)
  • Auto Correct
  • Exposure
  • Red-eye Removal
  • Saturation
  • Recover Blown Highlights
  • Add Fill Light
  • Sharpen
  • Soft Focus

In the Effects group there is the already mentioned Pop Color along with:

  • Adjust Hue
  • Black & White
  • Tint
  • Sketch
  • Distort

SHARING THE RESULTS

As with many other online photosharing sites, Adobe has made it easy to email and share images. The user is in control of what content is shared out to the world at large and what is kept private. Photos are arranged into albums, which can also be linked or embedded, as the My Dog Spot album is embedded below. Clicking on the image will take you to a slideshow of this demo album (after approving Adobe’s mismatch in certificate names). With one click on the Embed feature, the proper HTML language was loaded into my computers clipboard for easy pasting into my blogging software.

WHO WILL GET THE BEST USE OF THIS SERVICE

While this service is not for everyone, it does have a place. As it is an entirely online service, there is nothing to load on a computer that may or may not be locked down by a company’s IT department. And these are Photoshop quality tools, not a mishmash of applications pre-loaded on a PC. Further, it can be used from anywhere the Internet can be accessed; a cyber cafe, a friend’s house, a library, etc…

For a current price of free, Adobe Photoshop Express beta delivers some very compelling tools in one handy website. Sharing and editing photos while online has become a bit easier.

A discussion of this new service exists in the Digital Photography School Forums if you’d like more in-depth information.

Peter and his wife Kim are avid photographers who enjoy travel, portraiture and wildlife photography. They recently launched a new “photo of the day” site called Focus of the Day and are accepting submissions if you’d like to showcase your work. A travel related blog of their past and current shenanigans can be found at The Carey Adventures.

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Peter West Carey
Peter West Carey

leads photo tours and workshops in Nepal, Bhutan, Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles and beyond. He is also the creator of Photography Basics – A 43 Day Adventure & 40 Photography Experiments, web-based tutorials taking curious photographers on a fun ride through the basics of learning photography.

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