Quick Review: Photoshop Elements 11- The Missing Manual

I don’t often read, books. They’re big and the ones for computer programs are even bigger. But with my recent attempt to understand and review Photoshop Elements 11, I knew I needed help.

Along comes Barbara Brundage and O Reilly publishing with a 630 page monster. Intimidated at first, I find, just three days later, I’m already on page 165 and soaking up all kinds of info I was clueless about before reading the manual.

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I am not a manual reader. Have I mentioned that? Thank God Brundage wrote this manual for people like me. The text is easy to read and likely at a 6th grade level, which is perfect when I have to take in a lot of information. If I wanted something deeper, I’d pick up some Kurt Vonnegut. I want easy to digest and not superfluous material. I also don’t want a disc of crap at the end of the book that I am going to throw away or turn into a mobile.

Brundage’s style is smooth in flowing and so far the book is well organized. I wouldn’t mind the corner tabs to be different colors to differentiate the various chapters, that would help. I enjoy her directness, “The Magic Wand is a slightly temperamental – and occasionally highly effective – tool…” and this under ‘sharpening’, “The sad truth is that there really isn’t any way to improve the focus of a photo once you click the shutter.”

She has suggested workflows in most sections so I am not left figuring most of it out for myself. That may seem lame, but when learning a new program I like to be lead through the first time so I can get the flow, then I will branch out and tweak things to my liking.

I also like that she writes with small bits of humor that isn’t forced, nor is it too much or over the top. Speaking to Elements’ red-eye reduction capabilities, “…those glowing, demonic pupils that make your little cherub look like a character from an Anne Rice novel.”

Why am I able to skim through this book so quickly? Because of the layout. Well, not completely. Again, I wish the tabs were colored keyed to the chapters. But besides that, the book is full of illustrations and images which do an excellent job of showing you what I would see on a screen if I were in a class with Brundage. Second, there are all kinds of “Tip”s and call-out boxes which I tend to read first. The text thus far is telling me a lot of things I know (e.g. using the marque took, layers, etc…) but those tip boxes are rife with things I didn’t know.

And that’s why this book is valuable for me. It is blocked off in sections that work by themselves so I don’t need to read the whole thing (and likely never will) and it has ample tips and tricks to speed up my learning and make my work with Elements 11 easier.


As much as I don’t like instruction manuals, this one has been worthwhile so far. It has helped me dive into Photoshop Elements 11 and make sense of the changed layout (compared to Photoshop CS) and uncover some aspects I wasn’t aware of, like the Polygonal Lasso. I have a feeling it will be worth the $29 it costs at Amazon.

The book retails for $44.99 but you can find the paperback for $28.51 at Amazon or just $19.79 for the Kindle version.

Paperback Edition   Kindle Edition

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Peter Carey

Peter West Carey is a world traveling professional photographer currently leading photo tours to Bhutan, Nepal and Hawaii. He also hosts basic photography workshops along the West Coast of the USA as well as the free 31 Days TO Better Photography series on his blog.