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Special Effects in Guided Mode (the Only Time to Use It)

When you use Guided mode, it walks you through a bunch of popular editing options, like cropping, enhancing colors, retouching, and sharpening. They’re kind of like built-in tutorials in Elements—they don’t do all of the work for you, they just explain to you what tools you should use and the order in which to use them. However, there are some other options in Guided mode that can be more useful, because they can help you to easily create some special effects. (Note: We look at some other Guided mode special effects in Chapter 10.)

Step One:

Open a photo and click on Guided at the top of the Editor window. The Palette Bin on the right has four sections: Touchups, Photo Effects, Camera Effects, and Photo Play. Forget about the Touchups section—keep it collapsed. (Again, the options there are basically tutorials with guided walkthroughs. They’re the kinds of things we cover in this book, so if you weren’t reading this book, then that would be a good section to check out. Since you are reading this book [I’m psychic, you know], I’d stick with the tutorials in the book you just paid for.)

Step Two:

This brings us to the Photo Effects and Camera Effects sections. You could do some of these effects in Expert mode if you wanted to, but you’d have to use a bunch of tools, dialogs, layers, and filters to do them. So, if the effect you want is here, it’s not a bad place to get to know. Here, we’ll look at the Orton Effect in the Camera Effects section. By the way, the rest of the effects pretty much work exactly the same—remember, this is “Guided” mode, so Elements will walk you through each step. The Orton Effect comes from traditional film photography, where a photo was created by “sandwiching” two photos—one in focus, one out of focus. It adds a semi-soft-focus look and almost a dreamy style to the photo, while still looking overall sharp. Go ahead and click on Orton Effect.

Step Three:

You’ll see the Palette Bin on the right side of the window change to show all of the settings you have control over for the effect. The first thing you’ll want to do is click the Add Orton Effect button. This adds an overall contrasty feel to your photo, and it also makes the colors look a little more saturated.

Step Four:

Next, move the Blur slider to the right a little, and when I say “a little,” I mean a little. Be careful when cranking this slider up, as things can get bad really quickly. Just drag it over slightly—somewhere between 5 and 10 should do it (you’ll see the number appear in a white box above the slider knob when you click on it).

Step Five:

The Noise setting is totally optional here. It gives a slightly more nostalgic film grain look to the photo. I dragged to around 500 here. Unless you really zoom in on the photo, it’s kinda hard to see, but you should be able to see a little texture (I temporarily reset the Blur slider to 0 here, so you can see the effect better).

Step Six:

Another characteristic of the Orton effect is overexposure (the photos were deliberately overexposed before they were sandwiched together). This part is also optional, but you’ll usually find that what we did in Step Three (clicking the Add Orton Effect button) darkened the photo, so I always increase the Brightness setting a little. Somewhere between 20 and 30 usually works well. Here, though, I only went to 20.

Step Seven:

When you’re ready, click the Done button at the bottom right. If you then click on Expert at the top of the window and look in the Layers palette, you’ll see Elements has added some layers here: one layer adds the blur and the other works more with the overall focus and brightness of the image. Since the whole effect is layer based, you can always reduce the opacity of either of the layers to pull back the overall effect if you find it’s too strong.

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