Pixel Power

By Allison Dolan Premium

Dabbling in digital imaging? Now you can preserve your clan’s pix like the pros&#151and on the cheap. The newest version of Adobe’s powerful Photoshop software brings you the same nifty image-editing tools used by professional designers. But unlike its $600 parent program, Photoshop Elements (www.adobe.com/elements) adds handy help features for novices and sells for only $99 (or less if you already own a program included in Adobe’s $30 rebate).

Photoshop Elements’ tech-assistance tools should eliminate the guesswork (or guidebooks) needed to master the original. Hints windows tell you what each tool does. Step-by-step “Recipes” guide you through the tough stuff. You’ll also find pictures that illustrate the program’s different effects.

As with most consumer image-editing programs, you can correct common photo faux pas such as red eye and poor lighting. Photoshop Elements also borrows many of Photoshop’s power-user features: for example, filters that create special effects and layers, which let you create one image from several pictures, add text or modify parts of a photo, all without altering the original. The History palette provides multiple “undos,” so you can experiment without worrying you’ll accidentally erase Uncle Pete’s mustache or turn Grandma’s hair blue. And Internet-imaging tools such as templates and file compression help prep your pix for uploading to your family Web site.

Adobe offers Photoshop Elements for both Mac and PC. Mac users need a PowerPC running Mac OS 8.6 or higher. PC users require a Pentium-speed processor equipped with Windows 98 or higher. You’ll need 64 MB RAM and 150 MB hard disk space on both platforms. Visit Adobe’s Web site to order or download a free 30-day trial.