All that beautiful light. What is real and what is dodged and burned in PSE and the Free Layer Mask?
Since my start with digital photography I have been a Photoshop Elements (PSE) user and never a full Photoshop Creative Suite (CS) user. When Lightroom came along I finally had what I needed to wrap the capabilities of PSE with a great digital processing workflow. Now, years later, and with all the excitement of new release of CS5, I figured it was time to re-evaluate my decision. Well, I did and I’m still a PSE user.
When I started using PSE there were extremely good reasons for me not to use CS3 (the version at the time) not the least of which was the complexity of the program. I started with PSE 4 (Mac version), upgraded to 6 (finally! Adobe was woeful in supporting Mac users), and most recently to PSE 8. There haven’t been any real significant changes to the program based on the features that I use, but since I make my living in the software field, I understand the pitfalls of not staying reasonably current.
So how has Lightroom + PSE managed to support my photographic digital desires? The one absolutely cannot live without feature of CS not found in PSE is the ability to add a Layer Mask to any layer. But for as long as I have been a PSE a simple web search for the keywords free layer mask photoshop elements will bring back as the first hit Sue Chastain’s page on About.com for a Free Layer Mask Tool for Photoshop Elements.
I works just like the Layer Mask in CS. It is not some weird work-around. Just someone out there understands how to dig into the PSE API and keep getting this addition to work. (Actually, I don’t understand why Adobe doesn’t just add layer masks to PSE. Come on guys, we know how to get the free one. Maybe they just want to keep giving Sue her due.)
Here is a PDF document tutorial I wrote for the local camera club on how to get, install, and use the Free Layer Mask from Sue Chastain. I hope you find this useful.