i've been sort of bored with photoshop elements (7) lately and i've been really wanting to upgrade to CS5. the price tag is sorta stopping that (since it costs about $700) but i got an email from adobe yesterday saying how they are offering a special for elements users to upgrade for only $299. that is an awesome bargain. you can't even get the student edition for that price.
in the mean time, as in the past week, i've been discovering some things about elements that i didn't know i could do (and you can easily do with programs like CS5 and lightroom). they are called actions. basically pre-programmed effects that you can use as to speed up repetitive effects, like color balancing, lightening, burnt edges/vignette, b&w, etc. photoshop elements is not an action based program so you can't exactly purchase pre-programmed actions for it like you can CS5 - BUT, some people have created some action-type things for it and even offer it for free or purchase on the internet (such as pioneer woman actions and mcp actions).
anyway, i downloaded the ones from pioneer woman yesterday and i've had the most fun playing with them. there are mostly things that i did already but now it is easier since i just have to select one button and let the program do the work (rather than tinkering with all the balances like i was doing before...). NICE!!!
just a few examples. the first picture is the "original" only had the autocorrect done.
i hesitate to even add this one on here because my eyes look crazy. it is REALLY hard to take a picture of yourself in the mirror... with a camera in low light with a wide aperture (shallow depth of field to compensate for the low light). the camera wanted to focus on everything but me. but, i'm putting it on here just for the example.