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New Year’s Resolutions… so cliche, I know. But you can’t deny that the turn of the year is a good time to evaluate your life and make some goals for the next year. I’m in the process of defining my photography goals and resolutions for the upcoming year, in part thanks to Andrew Boyd and his list of “Photographer’s New Year’s Resolutions” (and it seems as though his goals are very much in line with my own). I find that writing them down helps me out, so here are my big ones for 2010.
TAKE MORE PHOTOS
After pulling together my favorite photos from the past year, I realized that I had been very passive about taking photos. Several months were filled with family photos, but no art/commercial photos. The reason for this is because I didn’t make the effort to get out and take photos of new things. So this year, I’m planning on getting out there more often, either by myself or with friends.
I also want to get the kids taking more photos. They both shoot 35mm now, and they love to print their stuff in the darkroom. The problem is that I don’t take them out enough to have a good base of negatives to choose from.
WHAT’S THE PLAN?
At best, I can probably afford to get out once each week with the the cameras. At worst, I should be hitting twice per month. I’ll be making an effort to head out each weekend, even if just for a local walk-around to fire off a single roll of film. I’m also going to be bringing the kids with me more often so they can start building up their archive for printing. And every one or two months, I want to do a bigger outing that requires me to be out most of the day shooting.
PRINT MORE PHOTOS
I’ve been investing a lot of time and money into my darkroom, so I should make better use of it. At first, I was getting in there a few times each week learning how it all works. Lately, I’ll be lucky to print something once every two months. This sucks, mostly because the chemicals go bad before I can finish them and I waste even more money. And now that I’m almost ready to print color in addition to b/w, I’ll need to be a lot better about conserving money for those expensive chemicals and papers.
WHAT’S THE PLAN?
I think at least one night per week is a reasonable goal. This will allow me to keep producing a constant flow of prints (most of which are for my personal portfolio or living room wall). I’ll probably also have to allot one of these nights per month to develop film since I’m doing my own b/w and color stuff now. The rotary processor will allow me to run more rolls at once, so a month’s worth of film in one night shouldn’t be unreasonable.
NO NEW EQUIPMENT
I have a confession to make… I have G.A.S. Yes, it’s true. I can’t help myself when I see a good deal on a great piece of equipment — I just have to buy it. I do use most of the stuff I’ve purchased, but I also have a cabinet full of cameras that rarely get used because there are so many of them. At this point, I pretty much have all the cameras I could need. The only thing I’ve been craving lately is a large format camera, but that needs to be put on hold for a while.
I’m also just about there with the darkroom and I don’t anticipate needing any big ticket items. The last outstanding item is a power supply for the dichro head. After that, I’m all set for b/w and color, film developing, and prints up to 16×20″. This is another reason I don’t want a large format camera yet — my current setup is only good up to medium format (large format will require a whole new enlarger).
WHAT’S THE PLAN?
Well, hopefully I can resist the temptation to buy new toys. I’ve been really good about it lately, and the last purchase was the rotary processor for the darkroom. I haven’t bought any cameras for a while, so I think I’m in a good position to keep it up. I’ll have to keep buying film, paper, and chemicals, but the cost of developing my own color film should go down from $4/roll (at the lab) to $1/roll (in my darkroom).
TURN MORE PROFIT
There are two ways to turn a higher profit: make more money, or spend less money. So this resolution includes a little bit of both. I’ve been doing the photography and blogging thing for a few years now, but I don’t have much to show for it. My hobby barely pays for itself at this point, but I’m also spending every bit of my free time doing it. I wouldn’t mind making a few extra bucks by the end of the year.
WHAT’S THE PLAN?
The “spend less money” part is basically the point above: no new equipment. If I can manage to follow through, my profits should be considerably higher. The “make more money” part needs to come from selling photos and selling advertising space on the blog (I actually make more with the blog than with my photos). I’ve been slacking on my ImageKind uploads and Fine Art Photoblog posts (I don’t do stock, I just can’t get the hang of it) — so I need to spend more time on those things. I also need to make this blog more profitable because I know it makes far less than what it could. I have a plan for this point, but I’ll lay it out later this month.
MAKE TIME FOR BLOGGING
I spend far more time blogging about photography than I spend actually taking or working on photos. This thing is a huge time-sink, but I won’t give it up anytime soon. I’ve learned so much and met so many awesome people through blogging. My problem is having enough time to do it. I would love to spend every night with a clear agenda and a head full of ideas to write about, but that just isn’t the case.
WHAT’S THE PLAN?
First off, I need to be more productive and more organized about my time spent blogging. I usually just get around to it whenever I can, writing up the articles right before I publish them. This is not a good way to blog. I need to set aside at least 2.5 nights per week to write content, answer emails, update software, brainstorm, proofread, feed-read, etc. Eventually, I need to work my way back up to having a few finished articles in the queue at any given time.
MAKE MORE TIME OFF
I have a full time job, a family, plus all this other junk. So I thoroughly enjoy my time off when I can afford to take it. Every once in a while I’ll just drop everything and lay around for a few days watching movies or playing video games… then I spend a solid week catching up on things. This sucks. I need to give myself breaks and nights off here and there so I don’t burn out and go AWOL.
WHAT’S THE PLAN?
It ultimately boils down to the fact that I need to schedule my time better. Work time means work, lazy time means no work. I’ve scheduled my time in the past, but it never stuck because it was either too aggressive or too inflexible. Having a family to look after means that my time comes second, so I have to be flexible with it. But seriously, I love turning off the computer and wasting time with movies and video games.
THE FINAL VERDICT
It’s obvious to me that I need a schedule of some sort. Like I said, I want it to be somewhat flexible, but I also want to cover my bases each week so I don’t put off the important things for too long. What I came up with is a method of blocking off 2 or 4 hours at a time for individual tasks (and the day job eating up 8-9 hours). Some of the pieces can be moved around from day to day so I can adapt to my seemingly chaotic life. Here’s a sample of what my week might look like… keeping in mind that “day job” and “family” time blocks are universal constants and completely inflexible.
I’ll have to give it a shot for a few weeks to see if the time blocks work out for me. But the idea is that each block of time can be moved around to any day of the week to accommodate my life at that time. Oh, and this is also assuming about 16 hours of blocked time, 6 hours of sleep, and 2 hours of “who knows what” time that manages to escape me every day (probably eating food or something else stupid like that).
What about you guys? Do you have any “New Year Resolutions” for 2010? And are you so busy that you have to schedule your time with chunks of paper?
The technique outlined here really just applies to a first round of processing — this might be acceptable for posting to Flickr, but a fine art print would require much more time and effort on your part. Also, I’m not talking about doing black and white conversions, crazy artistic interpretations, creative cropping, etc. We just want to make the photo look more natural at this point.
60 seconds may sound fast to some people, but it may sound like an eternity to others. Sure, it’s way too short for print preparation and it’s way too long for working through hundreds of stock submissions that might have basically the same white balance, exposure, and/or subject matter. But this method is intended to use your time effectively while giving each photo individual attention.
The steps below are for Lightroom or ACR users working with raw digital files.
SHARPEN AND REDUCE NOISE (0 SECONDS)
In most situations, the sharpening and noise reduction settings can be applied in batches for any given camera and ISO range. Just build a sharpening and noise reduction preset and apply it to all the images you’ll be processing further. This can be done before or after any other editing, but I like to get it done up front so I don’t forget.
The exception to this rule of batch processing is when you have photos outside the “normal” camera setting ranges. This means that photos with high ISO or long handheld shutter speeds will typically require some individual attention, but everything else can be processed with presets for typical use.
STRAIGHTEN AND CROP (+10 SECONDS)
Not every photo is going to require this step, but let’s just include it as a worst case scenario. The main intent should be straightening anything that’s slightly misaligned from what you want. I’d say keep the creative cropping to a minimum at this point — you can go back during in-depth processing and toy around with it.
To straighten, just use the Straighten tool and drag your horizontal or vertical line. The rotated crop will automatically be applied and you can move on to the next step.
WHITE BALANCE (+15 SECONDS)
Cameras aren’t very good at picking white balance, so some adjustment is usually beneficial. By default, your image white balance may be set to As Shot. What I like to do is highlight the pull-down menu and scroll through the auto and predefined settings to see which one gets me the closest. In some cases this will be enough, in other cases you’ll have to make a slight adjustment manually. If you have a good neutral gray source in the photo, you can also use the White Balance Tool to save some time.
I would suggest doing this step before making any basic adjustments because I’ve noticed that different white balances will give different automatic exposure settings in the next step.
BASIC ADJUSTMENTS (+25 SECONDS)
This is an area that you could spend a lot of time messing with, but you can also get a really good result with minimal effort. The first thing I do is hit the Auto and Default adjustment a few times back and forth so I can evaluate which one gives a better starting point.
Once I have my basic starting point, I take a quick look at the histogram to evaluate where things are at (I’ll actually do a separate article for working with histograms). Then I just run down the group of sliders from top to bottom until I get things pretty close.
- Modify your Exposure if the image is inherently too dark or bright.
- Add Recovery to pull back heavy or clipped highlights.
- Add Fill Light to push up heavy or clipped shadows.
- Add Blacks if your shadows look dull.
- Modify your Brightness to shift the overall brightness or darkness.
- Modify your Contrast if the image looks too flat or too punchy.
You could end your processing right there if you punch up the contrast enough, but I like to leave it a little flat for the next step. I also don’t usually apply any Clarity, Vibrance, or Saturation adjustments in this round of editing. You’ll find that a good contrast and tone adjustment will really boost the colors.
TONE ADJUSTMENT (+10 SECONDS)
I actually find that the Tone Adjustment does a better job at dealing with contrast because it offers more control by splitting the highlights and shadows. Most of the time, I’ll only adjust the Lights and Darks sliders until I see a pleasing contrast level. Many images will only require a slight “S curve” to get you where you need to be.
Now, if you don’t leave the Basic Adjustments slightly flat, you’ll get really exaggerated contrast results after applying Tone Adjustments. Then you’ll have to go back to the other panel and turn things down — which of course takes more time.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Am I way off base here? Am I spending too much time on basic first-round adjustments? Am I not spending enough time per image? What do you do with your images you intend to post or share through informal mediums? Here’s the before with the example photo used above:
Not a huge difference, but quite noticeable at full screen. At any rate, it’s in a more “natural” state and it should be much easier to evaluate and detail process from here.
I would say that the 60 seconds could be reduced to 30 if several things fall into place: straight horizons out of the camera, correct white balance out of the camera, and good exposure out of the camera. A well captured image requires very little post work, but it should require some if it’s a raw image. On the other hand, you could easily require 2 or 3 minutes per photo if you’re doing a lot of corrections due to a poor capture.
A lot of photographers produce a ton of photos, and those photos usually need some amount of post processing to at least make them look natural. Those who are doing stock photography process a lot of photos, but a lot of us also post a decent amount to blogs or photo sharing websites. It doesn’t take too long to figure out that saving time during post is good.
So in this article, I’m sharing a small tip for using Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw presets for sharpening and noise reduction settings. These are settings that generally don’t change much between photos and they can effectively be applied to batches of photos to save time. I should also note that this tutorial is based on Adobe Camera Raw, and Lightroom should be very similar (though I don’t have the software to confirm that). If you guys see any huge differences, let me know and I’ll update the article.
HOW TO CREATE YOUR PRESET
Here are the basic steps in Adobe Camera Raw (similar to Lightroom) for creating a sharpen and noise reduction preset that can be applied in batches. Screenshots for each step are shown below — click for larger versions.
- Pick a good baseline photo — well exposed, somewhere around ISO200-400 (unless you typically shoot somewhere else), a shutter speed of 1/125 seconds or faster (again, unless you typically shoot somewhere else), and with good sharp focus.
- Open it up for processing, zoom to 100% or 200% in a sharp area, and go to your “Detail” panel with the sharpening and noise reduction settings. You can see my before and after settings for my baseline photo.
- Adjust the sliders until you get a decent result. Don’t over-do it — over-processed photos are much more noticeable than under-processed photos.
- Now save the settings in a Preset by going to your preset panel and creating a new one. Uncheck everything except for “Sharpening” and the two “Noise Reduction” boxes.
HOW TO APPLY YOUR PRESET
Now that you have a preset (or set of presets for various cameras and/or ISO settings) you can apply it to many photos at the same time. With Bridge, you can select the photos you want to adjust, right click, go to “Develop Settings”, and choose your preset. Within Adobe Camera Raw, you can select the photos you want to adjust, go to the “Presets” panel, and choose your preset. With Lightroom, you can probably do it either way but it’s been a while since I used Lightroom and I no longer have the software installed — so you Lightroom users will have to correct me if I’m wrong.
WHAT ELSE DO YOU PRESET?
You can save pretty much any setting as a preset with Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw. So what do you guys have in your list of presets that you use all the time? Lens corrections? Camera calibration? Basic settings? Black and white conversions? Do share!
I included this topic in the Guide to Adobe Bridge: Organizing a while back (has it really been over a year?), but I wanted to mention it again. This quick little tip is aimed directly at the users of Adobe Bridge and/or Adobe Lightroom, though it may apply to other photo organization software as well.
Sometimes we get busy with things and the photo archive keeps filling up. If you don’t have time to process all your photos immediately, you should at least label the photos and/or their containing folders rather than try to remember which photos have been processed. Simply adding a color-coded label to my folders and photos has saved me a ton of time by eliminating the need to sift through thousands of photos each time I want to process a few.
As soon as I create a new folder in the archive, it gets a red label (that’s my “To Do” color). As I start to work on photos in that folder, I’ll change it to yellow (“In Process”). And when I’m done, I’ll change it to green (“Complete”). These labels at the folder level keep me on track and tell me which sets of photos are being worked on or still need work. As you can see in the image above, there’s no guessing at what needs to be done next.
I do the same type of labeling system with my photos — red, yellow, green. One of the first things I do after importing is apply red labels. These are the photos that I’ll consider for processing at some later date, usually 1/4 to 1/3 of the full set. Now, using your label filters, you can weed out the junk and focus on the good stuff. After a photo has been processed and exported, I’ll apply a green label so I don’t have to keep looking at it while processing the unfinished photos. This method also gives you a sense of accomplishment as you watch the red counter go down and the green counter go up over in the filter panel.
What do you use to keep track of your unfinished and finished photos as they stack up in the archive? Labels, tags, stars, folders, something else? Everybody seems to have a different way of handling these things, so I’m curious what’s working and not working for others.
I’ve been putting this one off for way too long. If you remember back a few months, I announced the 8th Epic Edits project: “Action and Preset Extravaganza“. The deadline was over a month ago, and we had 6 people contribute 15 different Photoshop Actions and Lightroom Presets.
Neil Cowley of Make Light Real, sponsored the project and gave out three grand prizes to the best entries. He’s also hosting the package of presets and actions as a free download, so don’t forget to jump over to his site and grab them!
- Tasha Schalk with her Rock Concert Photoshop Actions.
- Martin Kimeldorf with his Photoshop Action for exposure blending.
- Phill Price with his monochrome architecture pink Lightroom Preset.
- 1ST PLACE: LIGHTSPEED WORKFLOW PACKAGE
Valued at $290, this prize includes a Nostromo n52 left-hand keypad, “ONE” Lightroom/ACR preset, “ONE” Photoshop Action, and tutorials. This is an awesome package! This winner will also receive a $39 credit to use toward any additional items from Neil.
- 2ND PLACE: PHOTOSHOP LIGHT REAL VIRTUAL COURSE
Valued at $250, this prize includes the “ONE ACTION” workflow scripts plus a 4 hour training course covering the workflow scripts and working in LAB color space. This winner will also receive a $39 credit to use toward any additional items from Neil.
- 3RD PLACE: ONE ACTION AND GOLDEN TOUCH PACKAGES
Valued at $79 and $49, respectively, this prize includes the “ONE ACTION” scripts and presets for Photoshop and Lightroom, plus extra training materials along with additional Photoshop actions and 30 textures.
A BIG THANK YOU!
First of all, I want to thank all the participants that took the time to post their actions and presets for the greater good of the community. It’s great to see people willing to share their knowledge and their tools with fellow photographers.
I’d also like to thank Neil for sponsoring the project and hosting the final download package. He’s had a very active role in this project, and I look forward to working with him again in the future.
Backing-up your photos is definitely important, but more important is getting in the habit of doing so. As time goes on and our skills increase, we tend to take more photos. Cameras keep getting bigger and pumping out more pixels too. I recently wrote about my exponential photo collection, and this illustrates what I’m talking about. If you don’t have good habits with your backups right now, you’ll be in a world of hurt one or two years down the road.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting articles in a series about photo backups. We’ll cover all the major methods of doing backups, including RAID towers, external hard drives, DVDs, online solutions, and more (but not necessarily in that order). At the end of the series, I’ll pull everything together in a eBook like we did with the Guide to Adobe Bridge.
To start things off, here are some articles that I’ve come across that cover various aspects of photo backups. Leave a link in the comments if you have some others in your own bookmarks.
- Backup – Wikipedia
This entry goes seriously into backup methods and the management of backups. Most of it is probably overkill for many photographers, but it’s interesting to see just how far this stuff goes.
- 5 Ways To Never Lose Your Photos
Jim Goldstein presents some good solid methods for backing-up, and some things to think about while securing your photos for the long haul.
- My Photo and Computer Back-up Strategy
Scott Kelby lays out his backup techniques and some of the hardware he uses to do so.
- 5 Ways to Store Your Photos
Five of the basic methods and pieces of hardware for storing your photos outside of your internal hard drive.
- Digital Workflow: Preserve Those Captures
If you think you’re doing enough to backup your photos, take a look at this article by Jim Talkington. From a pro’s perspective, this is all just a part of doing business.
- Organize: Part 3 – Seeing it Through
Neil Creek touches on the topic of backups in this article about photo organization.
- Back Up Your Files Regularly
A good reminder for doing that totally necessary thing that we hate (and sometimes forget) to do.
- Back Up Your Work On the Road
An overview of portable gadgets for backing up your photos on the run.
- Back Up Your Photos on DVD
The DVD backup may not be the best method of backup, but it should still be considered essential as a secondary method.
- 5 Steps to Securing your Data
Backing-up is just one part of securing your data (photos). Here are some tips for additional activities you should be doing.
Over the course of seven articles, we’ve covered many features of Adobe’s file management software: Bridge. The links to each article are listed below, along with short descriptions of the content contained. And don’t forget to bookmark this page so you can refer back to the series later!
Even better, why don’t you download the eBook version of this series? Download Your Complete Guide to Adobe Bridge [PDF-30pg-3.3MB].
Oh, and one more thing… I found a nice collection of videos that cover various aspects of Adobe Bridge. So even if you’ve read through the articles, be sure to check them out again and watch the video I’ve embedded at the bottom of each post.
PART 1 of this series covers basic introductions to the software and the concept of using Adobe Bridge as a photo management tool. We explain what the software is, what it can do for you, why it’s better than other software, and some basic computer requirements for running the application. If you’re totally new to this software or if you’ve never even tried it, start here and get your bearings.
PART 2 of this series covers the concept of workspace within Adobe Bridge. We take a look at some default workspaces, the parts that make them up, and how you can use those parts to define your own custom workspace. Having a solid understanding of your worspace will present you with an increased comfort level with the software, thus increasing your productivity and effectiveness.
PART 3 of this series goes into importing photos from your camera and a few features of Adobe Bridge that are associated with this action. Each of the options within the import dialog are covered in detail, and we look at metadata templates and how they can be used to automatically apply extra information to your photos.
PART 4 of the series talks about preparing our photos after import and before processing. We go over some basic workflow topics such as deleting photos, applying location metadata, basic keywording, and batch renaming of the files. Though not all of these steps are critical for every photographer, they are presented as a method of good practice.
PART 5 in the series introduces the notion of bulk processing photos. Not intended to be an in-depth guide on the Adobe Camera Raw software, we walk through some of the basic adjustments that you’ll need to make your photos look better than when they came out of the camera. We also look at a method for applying image adjustments without even opening the files in ACR.
PART 6 covers more detailed methods of organizing your photo collection. We look at some of the tools available in Adobe Bridge such as the star system, labels, and search functions. And as an extension of search capabilities, we talk about how to create collections and a few possible ways to use them for organizing and maintaining your archive.
PART 7, the final installment of this series, lays out various tools and tricks not covered in the previous 6 discussions. We look at a few different ways of applying keywords, a more detailed discussion of the keyword panel, a good use for copy & paste functionality with ACR settings, batch processing with Photoshop via Bridge, and using stacks for those larger photo shoots.
In the last part of this series, we went over Organizing your photos with Adobe Bridge. That marked kind of an endpoint for my basic workflow, but I still had a few Bridge features that I wanted to talk about and expand upon.
This article will cover the Bridge keywording features, more productive ways to process RAW files, taking care of dust bunnies, hooking into Photoshop’s batch processing feature, and clearing up some visual archive clutter with stacks. This article also marks the near end for the whole series, and the final article will recap everything we’ve talked about.
Back in the File Preparation article, I briefly mentioned keywording, but I didn’t talk a whole lot about how to do it. Keywording can be done in one of two ways with Adobe Bridge: typing semicolon-separated keywords into the Metadata Panel or clicking the check-boxes in the Keyword Panel. I use both methods depending on the situation.
Keywording via the Metadata Panel is generally faster than searching through lists of keywords that you have archived. The problem with using this method is that it can’t be used when you have multiple images selected that already contain different keyword values. In the “Keywords” box you’ll see “(Multiple Values)” rather than the keywords. If you type anything in that box, you replace whatever information was there with the new information. So this method of keywording is good for groups of images with no previous keywords or single images regardless of their keyword situation.
Keywording via the Keyword Panel is a little slower than typing things by hand. The nice thing about it, though, is that it can handle adding keywords to multiple files with pre-existing keywords (even if they’re different from each other). The other great thing about the Keyword Panel is that it serves as a keyword archive and it sort of reminds you to use keywords that you may have otherwise missed. I’ll typically use this method of keywording for the more detailed work after the images have already had a first coat of keywords.
USING THE KEYWORD PANEL
Organizing the keyword archive is fairly simple, but it’s not a completely automated process. When you keyword things by hand in the Metadata Panel, Bridge makes a note of this and places these keywords and phrases in your Keyword Panel under “Other Keywords”. These keywords can be moved around and stuffed into other categories for permanent archiving.
To create a new category, simply click on the plus sign at the bottom of the panel for a “New Keyword”. This inserts a top level keyword that can be used as a category or grouping for other keywords. Once you have some top level keywords, you can add “New Sub Keywords” by selecting they keyword you want it under and clicking the plus sign with an arrow next to it. Sub Keywords can even have their own Sub Keywords, as shown in the screen shot for my “film” category.
Moving and organizing existing keywords is simply a drag-n-drop operation. Keywords can also be renamed and deleted. The easiest way to build up your keyword archive is to do it as you go. Don’t bother spending hours plugging in keywords that you think you’ll use later — make good use of your time and do it while you’re actually keywording photos. And one last tip for the Keyword Panel… try to keep your keyword groups filled with less than 10 or 15 keywords. Any more than that and you can probably create some new sub-groups. Too many keywords in one list only makes it more difficult to find them.
Do your keyword archiving correctly and adding those words and phrases will be a snap. You’ll be amazed at how many keywords you would have forgotten if you hadn’t run down your list and started diving into your categories and sub categories.
COPY AND PASTE ACR SETTINGS
As I mentioned in the File Processing article of this series, you can process multiple images inside of ACR to speed things up. Well, we can do the same thing without even bringing the images into ACR or Photoshop. If you have a group of photos with nearly identical lighting conditions and exposure, you can process one file and apply those settings to the other files from Bridge (I also mentioned this as an afterthought in the article).
To review: after you process your file, select the thumbnail inside of Bridge and copy the “Development Settings” via the right click menu, edit menu, or press Ctrl+Alt+C. Then select the images you want to apply the settings to and use the menus or press Ctrl+Alt+V to bring up the dialog that lets you choose which settings to paste over.
One of those settings is for “Spot Removal”. A neat trick you can do if you have a bunch of images with nasty spots on them, is to remove the spots on one image (via ACR’s healing tool) and do a copy & paste to the other images for only the spot removal. Now you don’t have to click every spot in every image.
BATCH WITH PHOTOSHOP
One thing I absolutely love about Bridge is the ability to batch process photos with Photoshop Actions… without manually opening those images in Photoshop and running the actions. If I process a photo with ACR and it doesn’t need to be opened in Photoshop, I don’t open it in Photoshop. But if I want to post that photo to Flickr at a smaller size, correct color space, etc., I have to use Photoshop.
But since I created a few actions for resizing my Flickr photos, I can carry out that task as a batch process. Just select one or more photos that you want to batch, go to your “Tools” menu, navigate down to the “Photoshop” menu, and select “Batch…” to bring up a dialog box. In fact, it’s the same dialog box that you can access from Photoshop itself.
The “Batch” dialog gives you options for the photo source, destination, and errors. Explaining every option in this dialog would constitute an article of its own, so I won’t mention everything about it. When I’m working with Bridge, my source will be set to “Bridge” — this just uses your previous selections for the batch. I also suppress open file dialogs and color profile warnings to ensure that the batch can run uninterrupted. These things can be dealt with in your Photoshop preferences. For my destination, I leave it as “none” when I’m just resizing for Flickr since my action saves the downsized file.
Do you ever end up with hundreds of photos from a single shoot that end up in a single folder? Are any of those photos basically the same as some others? If you don’t want to get rid of those similar photos, you can at least condense your archive visually. Stacks are kind of like miniature folders, but without the folders.
To create a stack, select the similar images and press Ctrl+G to “Group as Stack” or use your “Stack” menu or right click menu. This brings all the selected photos together and frees up some space on your screen. The stack can be expanded, condensed again, or ungrouped (check the Stack menu for the shortcuts).
I don’t typically use them unless I have a lot of photos in a single folder. They’re handy if you like to go crazy with the rapid fire, because a lot of bulk comes from all those slightly different photos.
That’s pretty much all I’ve got in me at this point. The last article in this series will be a recap, or course outline, for everything we’ve covered. I’ve only been using Bridge for a few months now, so I’m sure there are other features, methods, and tricks that I haven’t touched on. There’s always a possibility for a follow-up article sometime down the road.
If you guys are interested, I could possibly start another series on Adobe Camera RAW. I’ve been using it heavily for a little while now, and I’m getting to the point where I’m comfortable with the basic stuff for working with color and black & white photos. It’s really not that scary! And it uses the same RAW processing tools at Lightroom.
Here’s a video I found that goes well with the content discussed in this article.
In the last part of this series, we went over File Processing with Adobe Bridge. So now that the images have been skimmed and processed on a very basic level, it’s now time to start picking out the good ones and organizing.
Before I spend any more time keywording or adding titles and descriptions, I thin out the herd so I’m not wasting time on photos that will never be used for anything. To do this, Adobe Bridge offers several tools such as stars and labels. Bridge also offers tools for finding images, so we’ll cover searching and creating collections.
Adobe Bridge offers the ability to star your photos based on a five point scale. This gives you six levels of separation to use however you like. I personally don’t use the stars because my own organizing scheme works fine without them, but you may find a use for them. Once you add stars to a photo you’ll have the option of filtering your files by this rating system.
I say that I don’t use the stars, but I actually utilize them as a temporary means of choosing files. If I have several photos of a very similar scene, I typically want to choose just one of them. So I add stars to photos in the group based on technical and artistic merits. This helps me narrow down my selection to just a few photos that can be compared side by side. After I choose the winner, all the stars are removed.
Labels are similar to stars, but they’re not so centered around a ranking scale. I use labels heavily because they can be filtered easily and the colors associated with them make it very convenient to spot labeled photos and folders. In addition, the label system can be customized to match your needs. Labels can be applied via the right-click menu or by pressing “Ctrl+(6-9)” while one or more items are selected.
The default labels offered in CS3 are No Label, Select, Second, Approved, Review, and To Do. These may be fine for your particular workflow, but I’ve customized the text of my labels to make them more recognizable. This can be done through the “Edit >> Preferences… >> Labels” dialog. I use To Do (need to be processed), In Process (started but not finished), Complete (finished processing), Revisit (reprocess later), and For Sale (anything on the market).
I only apply labels to the photos I’m going to process on a deeper level, so very few of them actually get a label. I also label my folders with red, yellow, or green based on what I have going on inside. Red folders have not been processed at all. Yellow folders have some photos started. Green folders are complete and need no attention at the moment. And Blue folders were complete but need more attention now. So while looking at my folders, it’s easy to see what needs working on and what doesn’t. Once inside of the folder, it’s a simple matter of selecting the “To Do” or “In Process” filter to see what needs work. The filter is also handy for bringing up the completed photos in case I’m looking for new material to sell.
Filters are fine if you’re working in a single folder of photos, but sometimes you need to expand your reach to a set of folders encompassing multiple photo shoots, months, or years. Finding what you’re looking for is no problem if you’ve done your job with adding keywords, labels, and other metadata.
Most of us are familiar with search and find functions commonly found in software. Bridge is no exception, but the tool is much more powerful than most. Before you start your search, be sure to navigate to the location you want to search under (this will make your job easier). To open the “Find Dialog” just press Ctrl+F or find the item under the “Edit” menu. Here’s what we see:
The Source option will be pre-filled with your current location, but you can also choose other common locations or browse for a specific directory. Criteria can be added or removed to suit your needs, and there are a vast number of metadata options that can be used for the search. In my example, I’m searching for a “beach” photo that I need “To Do”. There are several other options for the Results that dictate how the search behaves. When you’re ready to search, hit the “Find” button.
If you find yourself conducting the same search over and over again, a collection is what you need. Collections are like saved searches, but can be carried out from any location with the same criteria. The results are similar to albums in other organization software, but it’s not quite a drag-n-drop operation.
For example, I’d like to be able to find all of my “To Do” photos without having to look in each folder and filter things down. By creating a collection with the criteria for the label “To Do”, I can run the collection for a set of photo shoots, an entire year, or the whole archive. You can also create collections to search for specific keywords or other items in the metadata.
To start a collection, follow the instructions for a regular search. But instead of hitting “Find” we’re going to hit “Save As Collection”, which will bring up a save file dialog box. Choose a location for your collection, give it a name, and save it — I store mine in a top level directory called “Collections” within my photo archive. Also in that save dialog, you’ll see a couple of other options down near the bottom. I typically select the “Start Search From Current Folder” option so I can execute the collection from any location.
To run a collection search from any directory, you’ll need to also add that collection to your “Favorites” so you can access it while browsing your folders. When you get to the level that you want to search from, just run the collection by double clicking it and the search will begin from your current location. Some collections I’ve put together include one for each of my labels and one for seeking images that I’ve posted on various websites (I keyword them with things like “Flickr” and “ImageKind” after I’ve posted them online).
Features such as searches and collections only work well when you’ve put the effort into your photos up-front. Keywording, labeling, starring, and adding other metadata is a key process that has substantial benefits down the road.
I’m sure we could drag this thing out for many more weeks, but I think we’ve covered a majority of the key points with the software. In the next part of the series, I’ll talk about various tips, tools, and techniques for using Adobe Bridge efficiently and effectively.
Here’s a video I found that goes well with the content discussed in this article.