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Editor's Note: This is one of a continuing series of interviews with notables in the creative industry. This week, since none of my interviewees responded in time, I interviewed myself!


Your Name

Sally Cox


My love of tech aside, I was born in the wrong century.

Dickens Faire, San Francisco



#1 What is your primary job title?

Instructional Designer/eLearning Developer/Adobe Community Professional


#2 Who or what inspires you?

The colors and shapes of Nature, my amazing daughter, and the strong independent thinkers I have surrounded myself with, continue to inspire me.


#3 What do you think about when alone in your car?

  1. Did I close the garage door?
  2. What new adventures can I find today? I am still learning my way around beautiful Reno/Tahoe.


Washoe Lake.jpg

Looking west toward the Sierra Nevada Mountains and Lake Tahoe from Washoe Valley – Carson City to the left and Reno to the right. Just beautiful!



#4 Share a life lesson you learned?

YOU are in charge of your own destiny. Take the reins of your own life, and watch things change for the better.

Took some hard lessons and many years to learn this, but putting control of my life in someone else's hands is foolish and I won't do it.


#5 Favorite period of history?

Early 1900s until 1930s. Such an incredible time of art, development, and invention. And the clothing!



An eLearning course I created on Flappers – I love the 1920s!



#6 What projects are you working on right now?

Creating a series of eLearning modules on parking safety, some rebranding for Intel, and continuing the work I do for Adobe.

Also creating an eLearning video training course that will be released in early 2017.


#7 Describe your personal style.

Work – flat design, colorful cartoon-like imagery and clean typography

Personal – denim, vintage jewelry, dresses, and flip flops


#8 What tech tools do you use in your work?

I use anything Adobe, also Storyline, Camtasia, Snagit, Dropbox, GoogleDrive, OneDrive, PowerPoint, Keynote.


#9 When did you know you'd found your calling?

When I realized I love what I do – if you don't wake up every day excited to work, it's time to switch careers.


#10 What's your super power?

I am able to cry at the drop of a hat, and I have the ability to build rapport with (almost) anyone.


#11 Peanut Butter: Creamy or Chunky?

Chunky, but I have been known to mix the two. I am a peanut butter junkie.



My design work is colorful and flat.



#12 What makes you happy?

Kindness, spending time with my daughter, dog kisses, strong coffee, and travel


#13 What do you do to relax?

Play with my dogs, watch old movies, organize, bake, sketch and draw


#14 Your place of birth?

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA


#15 Favorite artist or art movement?

Love them all, but Gustav Klimt is king. I appreciate his mix of art and design.


#16 Share a funny moment from your career?

I worked for "Mister Rogers Neighborhood" early in my career, 1980s. Mr. Rogers was a delight to be around, as you can imagine. On my birthday one year, he called out for champagne and everyone sang while he played "Happy Birthday" to me on the piano. Will never be another moment to match that one ... what an honor to have known this kind, gentle man.

mr rogers.jpg

Me on the set of "Mister Rogers Neighborhood" with Art Director Jack Guest (middle with glasses) and the rest of the crew. Family Communications studio, Pittsburgh, 1980s



#17 Color of the car you drive?



#18 Any new skills you'd like to learn?

  1. Mastering Adobe Animate CC because there is so much I can do with it, in regards to eLearning
  2. Improving my current skill set – I never want to stop learning
  3. Hanging my clothes up at the end of the day, instead of throwing them on the chair


#19 How do you get your news?

Twitter, other online sites, CNN and all major networks, NPR, PBS, Fox news, BBC – important to hear all points of view


#20 Advice to other creatives?

  1. Take charge of your own career.
  2. Reinvent yourself, and take the steps necessary to get where you want to be.
  3. It's more important to be smart than to be pretty.
  4. Create a portfolio of your own "fake" projects until you accumulate real ones.
  5. Surround yourself with smart, forward-thinking people who inspire you.
  6. Stop waiting for motivation and luck to come your way – make your own luck!
  7. Stay positive and keep focused on your goals, and how you present yourself to the world.
  8. Don't burn bridges.
  9. Continue to put good things out into the Universe, and good will come back to you. Works for me!


Sally on Twitter

Sally's portfolio

Winter is here – enjoy these winter driving tips, created in Adobe Illustrator CC 2017. I love infographics.

Drive safely!

Winter Driving Tips.png

Part 3 in a 3-part Series on how to use Adobe Bridge


[Part 1] [Part 2] [Part 3]


Whether you are looking at the contents of a single folder or the contents of multiple-folders-within-folders. The ability to find a specific image or a category of images in an easy fashion can only save you time. While it may seem that the work involved to make it easier and faster to find images may seem  like wasted time, it really isn't. When you are looking for "THAT" one image, the time spent in preparation will be moot. The question is: do you want to spend time preparing to find any image (at any time) or do you want to spend all your time finding any one image?

There are three different ways to find your images in Bridge:

  1. Utilizing the original Metadata
  2. Ratings and Labels (that you ascribe to specific images)
  3. Keywording (that you ascribe to specific images).


Each of these has different levels of interaction, from least to most comprehensive. In other words, the more you want to get out of finding your images, the more you have to put into the investment.


The Basics: Taking Advantage of the Metadata

Every time you take a photo, the camera is very likely to collect data on that image such as the aperture, the date, whether the camera was being held portrait or landscape, the ISO, the focal length, etc. All of these attributes become data as part of the image and this data can be seen and selected from Bridge's Filter menu. The Filter menu allows you to filter the images seen in the Content Panel. When used properly, utilizing the metadata helps to eliminate the wheat from the chaff so that there are fewer images to have to dig through to find the image you are looking for. For example, if you knew that you were looking for an image taken in portrait mode and you are looking in a folder containing 500 images but only 50 were taken in Portrait mode, than 450 images do not have to be dealt with.

[Note  that different cameras can only collect the Metadata that they are designed to collect. For example, if the camera does not have GPS capabilities, than it cannot collect the GPS Metadata.]


When you click on any of the displayed Metadata, images with that Metadata will be displayed in the Contents Panel. If you click on two (or more) Metadata options that can be concurrent such as images that were taken with f/3.5 AND f/4.0, than all images that have those settings will be displayed. But if you click on images with f/3.5 AND Portrait and no images in that folder have both of these attributes concurrently, than no image will show up in the Contents Panel.

The place where this often becomes an issue is if you do not cancel (re-click) out of a previous selection. For example, let's say you clicked on the Portrait images and then clicked on images that have Labels and suddenly there are no images in the Content Panel. Again, because this is a cumulative feature, not an additive feature. Thus, clicking on both will  NOT display all Portrait AND Label images. Bridge will only show images that have BOTH, Portrait AND Label attributes. If no images have both, no images will be shown. So, if you are not seeing what you think you should be seeing, examine the Filter menu and see if you have something checked that you no longer need to have checked.


There are several other things to be aware of as you look at this Panel. First of all, if you are looking for an attribute that is not in existence with any of the images in the folder you are looking within, that attribute tag will not show up. So, for example, if I add a Rating and a Label to some images, THEN, those attributes will show up in the Filter Panel where they were not showing up at all prior to my adding those items. If you look at the image below, there are no single, double, or five start ratings in any of the images in this folder so therefore those rating options do not show up in the Ratings category. (There are some exceptions to this such as "Keywords" as that is baked into this Panel.)


Ratings and Labels

Now for simple interaction for finding images you want to work with.

Let's say you have a folder with 500 or so images. You need to whittle that down to a more reasonable amount to figure out which images you want to spend time enhancing. If you are like me, you may occasionally take multiple shots of the same thing just to make sure that you have a several options of the image to review. This is one of the values of Bridge where you can easily see in the Preview Panel a respectable sized view of your images as you play Keep & Toss. (See the 1st article I wrote on how to customize Bridge's interface so that the Preview Panel is much larger than how Bridge initially presents the Preview Panel. You can read that article here.)

At any time you can provide a rating to your images from one star to 5 stars (Command/Control-1 through -5).  These can be used later as they are easy to search for when you want to see all of the images with ratings that are (say) 4 or better. You can also have Labels for images that add a color-bar to the image. This makes it very easy to have Red Labels images that are 4 stars or greater shown to one person while the Green Label images that are 4 stars or better shown to a different person.


[Note: If you do not wish to press the Control or Command key with the number key when setting Ratings or Labels, that can be set in Bridge's Preferences. Also note that you can change the wording for the various Labels that shows up in the Menus in the same Preference tab to something that works better for your workflow.]


I find that the ratings and labels are excellent mechanism to organize my images as I work. I take a LOT of HDR images and when I do HDR or especially HDR - Panorama images, processing and finding my results used to be confusing. That is until I started using BOTH ratings and Labels. First I'd assign each triplet of images a 2-star rating. Something easy to assign and not rated high enough to confuse with  images that (by themselves) I've  rated with a higher rating. Then I'd take each of these marked proto-HDR images and process them into HDR images. Then as each image completed processing within ACR, I'd assign the resultant HDR-image, and proto-panorama image, with a Label.


So below you see the Content Panel after processing eight sets of image for an HDR - Panorama. That means that I had 24 images to combine into 8 HDR images and then I have to find these 8 images, select them, and then process them. It can be done without the rating and labeling but it's a whole lot faster and easier to do  this using this approach.


Then, to view only the images I want to see I go to the Filter Panel and filter out everything but the images I want to see by clicking on "2 stars" and "Label - Seconds."



Admittedly, in this case I'd only need to click on the "Second" Label  to get the eight proto-panorama images. However if I had multiple many-image panorama proto-images I might have given the other one(s) a different Label  to help make each group easily identifiable and unique. Nonetheless, from a folder with 241 images, instantly I am looking only at the eight I need to do the panorama. [Note, in the images above and below, the reason why you are seeing "2*" in stead of "**" is that I decreased the size of the thumbnails to make it easier to get a screenshot that fit in this blog 2* is Bridge's way to truncate the Rating. If the thumbnails were larger, you'd see "**."]


Once I've created the panorama, the panorama will automatically be given a 2-star rating and the Second Label. At that point I'd give it either 3-star because it's nice, a 4-star because it's impressive, or a 5-star because all I want to do is to stare at the image. Anything without a Rating is going to be ignored (and tossing non-rated images is also possible).


Meanwhile, if I've assigned my "impressive" images a 4 rating, than by clicking on the 4 (or greater) rating in the Filter Panel, all I will be seeing are images that I gave a 4 or 5 star rating. If I decide that a particular image is no longer a contender, I can give it (say) a 3 star rating and it will be removed from the Content Panel view and it is now out of view (but has not been removed from the folder).


When you add the ability to select an image via all of the other parameters available to the user in the Filter Panel, it's very easy to narrow down the potential number of images you may be looking for.


Lastly, if you look in the Path Bar region on the right hand side, you can see the dropdown menu to select ranges of Ratings. So besides the Filter Panel, this is also a very quick mechanism to find images with which you've done some selection.


[Note: if an image has any Ratings and/or Label and is subsequently saved into a different format (e.g., you've saved a DNG image into a JPEG image), the new image will inherent the attributes that it had prior to the saving. So once a 4-star, always a 4-star -- until you change that to something else.]



If you want the greatest control to find specific images, you need to use Keywords. The biggest problem with Keywords is that they require "some" to "extensively" more work to create depending on how specific you want your Keywords. Simply, Keywords require more work than simply applying Ratings or Labels and as such, some people may rather dig through 1000 images rather than spending a few minutes applying Keywords to the images during the initial processing. Actually, the initial processing time is the best time to apply Keywords: when you are first examining the images  and the background content and details are still fresh in your mind.

When you first open Bridge there will be some default Keywords listed in the Keyword Panel but I found them mostly irrelevant and soon deleted most of them and created my own. Creating Keywords that satisfy your needs is probably one of the biggest challenges about this whole process depending on how When you first open Bridge there will be some default Keywords listed in the Keyword Panel but I found them mostly irrelevant and soon deleted most of them and created my own.


Creating Keywords that satisfy your needs is probably one of the biggest challenges about this whole process depending on how compulsive you are and how specific you wish to be. For example, if you wish to rely solely on the main location, say Nova Scotia, than the process is very very fast. If you want to add cities, it can take a bit longer, and if you then start to add the name of tourist sites, geographic features, construction details, etc., it just adds to the time. As a woodworker, I also take photos of woodworking tools and early furniture as well as architectural construction details. As you might gather, my Keywording can get a bit detailed. If you are into gardens and plants, you might want to have keywords for specific trees and specific plants. And there is always family members and friends. you are and how specific you wish to be. For example, if you wish to rely solely on the main location, say Nova Scotia, than the process is very very fast. If you want to add cities, it can take a bit longer, and if you then start to add the name of tourist sites, geographic features, construction details, etc., it just adds to the time. As a woodworker, I also take photos of woodworking tools and early furniture as well as architectural construction details. As you might gather, my Keywording can get a bit detailed. If you are into gardens and plants, you might want to have keywords for specific trees and specific plants. And there is always family members and friends.


So you can see that creating the Keywords is almost a never ending process. Well, it is a never ending process because there are always new friends and you will always be encountering new tools and new plants. However, the true value of Keywords is that they are actually added to the image file and are not placed in some cache within Bridge. As such, all you need to do is have the folder you wish to examine within ANY folder you are looking in. So, for example, I have my Vacations folder and within the Vacation folder is my Nova Scotia Folder and inside that are the various folders I visited during my trip. If I have my Vacations folder open and I do a Command-f in Bridge and search for a specific Keyword, in milliseconds I will have the images with those Keywords front and center in the Content Panel.


To create Keywords, open or display the Keyword Panel. As stated, there are a few pre-made Keywords set within that Panel, but it's probable that most of these  are not relevant to you and these can be ignored or deleted as you so see fit. Adding new Keywords is easy and can be done either by clicking on the Flyout menu for the Keywords Panel


An alternative location to create new Keywords (with fewer options) is found by right-clicking on the Keywords within the Panel itself.



Applying Keywords

Notice the difference between Keywords and Sub Keywords. Sub Keywords are indented from the Keyword they were created from. [You may see this relationship  also  referred to as a Parent - Child relationship.] This provides a certain amount of extra control: If I were to simply click on "Blacksmith-handmade," only that Keyword would be checked. If I  also wanted "Hardware" selected, I'd have to click on each option separately. However, if I press the Shift key at the same time I click on any subcategory, any parent Keyword(s) is also selected. So if I click on "Blacksmith-handmade" with the Shift key pressed, Hardware AND Architectural/Furniture  are automatically and concurrently selected.


The Keywords you create become part of Bridge and will show up in any folders you subsequently open. This is both good if you are adding Keywords to new folders of similar nature but could be in the way for folder containing images of a completely different nature (e.g., a wedding). Nonetheless, this problem is worth the overall benefits of Keywords.


Keywording your images  is obviously a  time-filling operation. The good news is that the more you do this, the more of the likely Keywords will have already been created and once created it's only a matter of checking them off. By the way, if you mis-spell or decide on a different word for any category, renaming does not remove any previous selections made with that Keyword. Any previous selections will simply take the new fixed or altered name.

Finding images with Keywords

So once you've done all this Keywording, now what? Well, if you look at the 2nd or 3rd screenshot above, you will see an option for "Find…" and if you go to the Edit menu, halfway down you'll find "Find," and if you press the Command/Control-f keys you will get the same Find window.


The advantage of using this approach to Finding your keywords is that you can also look for a variety of other parameters and/or constraints at the same time. In addition, this approach allows you to dig into any of the children folders. I'll explain this in a moment.


It would be easier if this window displayed the same view of the Keywords Panel as we  see in the Keywords Panel. Rather, it allows us to search for Keywords and any other option we chose to select from the Metadata Panel.


While the interface for Finding your Keywords with this window is not the best, the results are spectacular. First off, remember that you do not have to be directly "in" the folder to find what you are looking for, only higher in the folder tree. So, let's say you want to find all your photos of Aunt Maude and you have opened your "Family Photos" folder. Within that folder you have vacation folders (and contained with that are the many vacation trips you've done) and also contained within Family Photos is the Holiday folder and all of the Holiday folders that you've photographed, etc. There might also be folders of family gatherings and many other  folders that could potentially contain Aunt Maude as well.


However, if you just want to find Aunt Maude's images only from the Holidays folder, look in the Holidays folder and only images will show up from that folder. Any folders contained within the Holiday folder such as "Holloween-2012," Thanksgiving-2011," "Holloween-1999," etc. will be displayed. The display of these images will be milliseconds.


Please note that if you are looking in the Holidays folder, no images from the Vacation Folder will be found as those are parallel folders nestled in the Parent folder.

By the way, if you are curious as to where the found images were located, You have several options: as you select each image, looking at the Path Bar  the Bird's Trail of where the image resides in the folders can be seen. However, a Right-click on any image will give you the option to "Display in Finder," and you have immediate access to the images from that approach as well.


There is an alternate approach to finding your images that uses the Filter Panel. The Filter Panel can also display Keywords and will in fact display any and all Keywords contained within the images on display. Unfortunately these are displayed in alphabetical order and not in the hierarchal order that they were created in.

To find a specific image, all you have to do is to click on any of the Keywords in the list and POP, those images will show up in the Content Panel. Shift-clicking will select multiple Keywords even if the Keywords are not continuous on the list.


The biggest negative for this approach is that it will ONLY work within a single folder. That is, when you use the previous approach, using the "Find…" command, any image with a Keyword attached will be found no matter how deep that file is contained within the folder you started from. This approach, while easier (because you do not need to remember how to spell your Keyword or what words were used in a Keyword, you only need to look) will not look for items contained within folders within folders.

Bridge and Lightroom

After doing all this Keywording, Labeling, Rating, and adjustments you've done, one question you may have is can all of the work you've done creating Keywords import into Lightroom if you chose to move this folder of images into your LR catalog?


The answer is mostly yes. The Ratings you set for the images will all be there but the Labels will not. Neither the color or even the fact that they had a label of any kind will transfer. The Keywords will also transfer but depending on how many Keywords you have in your Lightroom collection may make it a tad of a challenge to find them. But they should transfer. Additionally, any image enhancements you've done in ACR or Photoshop will also transfer. However, they will come over as a completed work in progress and none of the "History" steps of any enhancements you've done in Adobe Camera Raw or Photoshop will be listed. Any subsequent corrections you do after Importing the images into Lightroom will be included in the History. Since Lightroom was not involved in any of the initial operations, it has no way of knowing what was done.

A Recap on Finding Your Images

There's no getting around the fact that as we take more and more images, finding the images we want to share can be a tortuous ordeal. From the features within Bridge, that ordeal can be focused by using the Metadata already built into each image. Unfortunately, Metadata does not automatically display how we felt about any image and that requires us to interact with Bridge to add either Ratings and/or Label. Lastly, if we want to easily find just those images of "trains" we've seen on all of our vacations, "steam engines" we've seen on all of our vacations, or "steam engines that are still functioning" on all of our vacations, we need to add keywords to quickly find those images. Otherwise our guests will need to be very patient as we say "I know it's here somewhere, give me a second..."

Editor's Note: This is one of a continuing series of interviews with notables in the creative industry. This week, we talk with the immensely talented digital artist Brian Middleton.


Your Name

Brian Middleton



#1 What is your primary job title?

Professional Visual Artist

#2 Who or what inspires you

Oh ! So many and so much:

  • The colour spectrum and how Light affects whatever I see: reflecting, refracting, abstracting reality.
  • My husband Carl McLuhan who is a wonderful writer and pianist and thinker.
  • Artists : Gerhard Richter, Lucian Freud, Pierre Bonnard.
  • My parents who are 93 and 91 and survived WWII and faced many challenges but remain positive.

#3 What do you think about when alone in your car?

  • Being a kinder driver.
  • How beautiful the sky looks.
  • Paying attention to the road.


#4 Share a life lesson you learn?

Be kinder than necessary - always. Every person I meet is facing a challenge about which I know nothing.


#5 Favorite period of history?

I am currently fascinated by the period 1930 - 55 ( just before, during and the decade right after the Second World War.)


#6 What projects are you working on right now?

I am learning about video and sound editing and I have a commission for a public artwork to honour search and rescue workers in the province of British Columbia.


#7 Describe your personal style.

Now THAT is a toughie to answer ! I worked with traditional art media and tools for forty years before switching to digital painting apps three years ago. I think " explorer and experimenter " would best describe what I try to do.


#8 What tech tools do you use in your work?

I paint digitally ( no stylus ) on my iPad and iPhone using the apps Procreate, ArtStudio and Art Rage. I also use SparkPost and SparkVideo and iMovie for text and video editing.


#9 When did you know you'd found your calling?

44 years ago while I was studying in France I discovered an overwhelming need to draw and paint. It took me totally by surprise!


#10 What's your super power?



#11 Peanut Butter: Creamy or Chunky?

I love Creamy on hot buttered toast.


#12 What makes you happy?

  • Being with my loved ones.
  • Sharing meals.
  • Puppies and Dogs


#13 What do you do to relax?

Take 45 minute walks on trails near the Pacific.


#14 Your place of birth?

Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada


#15 Favorite artist or art movement?

See #2



#16 Share a funny moment from your career?

A nervous kindergarten kid during a Christmas concert nativity scene who began pulling on his balloon/udder as one of the cows in the manger. The audience started laughing and couldn't stop and he didn't have a clue!


#17 Color of the car you drive?



#18 Any new skills you'd like to learn?

Making a documentary film.


#19 How do you get your news?

  • BBC International News
  • CBC
  • PBS / NPR
  • Twitter

#20 Advice to other creatives?

  • Hold on tight to your dreams.
  • Trust your intuition.
  • Keep an open mind.


Learn more about Brian's work:


Instagram: BrianMiddletonArt

FaceBook: @BrianMiddletonArt

Video Link:

In my fantasy world, every learner who partakes of one of my courses would be tech savvy, so I can try lots of cool new things to keep them interested. The truth is, we all bring our own experiences to the table and there will be always be learners who are tech-challenged and might need a little extra guidance. As an Instructional Designer, I don’t want to leave any students out in the cold. That being said, I’ll share some simple tips to help make ALL your courses user-friendly for ALL learners.



Using the same color buttons and hyperlinks makes it easy to engage with the content. Keep NEXT and PREVIOUS buttons in the same location – help your learner become familiar with the process and at the same time, get comfortable with online learning.


Consistency is also key when it comes to voice. If you ask a learner to perform a task, make it clear what the task is and that they are to perform it. If you are demoing a process to the learner and they are NOT to interact with the content, but just watch the demo – make that clear to the learner, as well. I’ve seen courses that mix the two techniques without proper definition and clarity. That can be confusing, and the learner can miss important content!



In this example, I have included a direction to “select each stopwatch.”  This simple directive establishes that the learner is to interact with the content.




Regardless of whether you use the navigation features of the tool you are creating in, or create your own custom navigation, just make sure you cover all your bases. A learner may wish to return to the first scene and, provided you allow them to do it, make sure you give them an easy way to get back there.


Navigation or “nav bars” are very familiar to most learners, since websites have similar navigation and your users are most like accustomed to using them. And if you’re using “branching” within your course, ensure the learner can always find their way around if they move through the course in a non-linear fashion.



This graphic shows some of the aforementioned tips to make it easy for all learners to interact with my content, just as I intended.





Another tip for guiding the learner is to keep all the navigation in the same look and feel. Text links would be the same color as buttons, and so one. Again, it becomes familiar to the learner and removes any intimidation about interacting with the course.



Here’s an example of using one color to indicate interaction. Notice the orange buttons onscreen, as well as the orange NEXT and PREVIOUS. They don’t look alike but are the same color, so by now the learner is accustomed to interacting with the orange directives.

Part 2 in a 3-part series on Using Adobe Bridge


[Part 1] [Part 2] [Part 3]


Now that you've opened a folder full of images in Bridge, now what?


The common complaint on Bridge is that it "I can't see how  to DO anything to the images." While that is mostly kinda sorta correct, it doesn't tell the whole story. At a minimum, there are a few things that Bridge can do to the files contained within a folder. Bridge can certainly help organize the contents of your images and Bridge can certainly help you rename the files in your folder. [Quick tip: if you do the standard "Click" (on the name) and pause and then "click" again, the name is now selected so that you can rename it. If you now tap the Tab key, you will jump to the next image in succession with the name already selected ready to rename.] If you want to have personalized Metadata in your images, you need  Bridge. In addition, Bridge can interact with (say) Photoshop to do a variety of processing of your images as well as interact with Photoshop (and Illustrator) in a variety of ways that can save you inordinate amount of time. At a minimum, you can rate and/or label your images (more on that in Part 3), play Keep-&-Toss with the images, and open the images in Photoshop for enhancement.


But can Bridge lighten an image or place a vignette around the subject of your image? Not at all. Rather, Bridge is a multi-gateway that provides quick and easy access to "the next step" in processing your images. Whether you want to open your images in Photoshop or Adobe Camera Raw, it's easy to do from Bridge.


Bridge as a Doorway

Using a separate application to open files may seem strange. After all, since we can be viewing our images as thumbnails in Finder or Explorer, why use something else to do the same thing? Well, as shown in Part 1, we do not have to limit ourselves with a thumbnail for viewing an image and can use a large expanded view. But we do need to open the images into something else to "do" something with them. So let me start with:


Opening  raw and other image formats into Adobe Camera Raw

If your camera is set to save the images in a raw format (e.g., Canon (CR2), Nikon (NEF), Fuji (RAF), etc.), or if you use any DNG file, if you double-click on the raw or DNG file will initiate the process to  automatically open up ACR as Photoshop does not understand the data from a raw or DNG file and this file must be processed into an understandable file format (in a process  called demosaicing) before Photoshop can understand and display the image for processing.


[A brief explanation on the difference between a raw file and a DNG file: As just explained, a raw file is the image taken from your camera that was captured in the raw (unprocessed) format. This is quite different from the JPEG file that can also come from your camera. When importing your images from your camera (or camera card) into your computer, you have the option when using Photo Downloader (one of the features from within Bridge) to auto-convert the raw images to DNG.

If you do not convert to DNG, any changes made in ACR are stored in a 2nd file (called a side-car file) in an XMP format. The original image and the side-car file MUST be located in the same folder for ACR to see these adjustments at any time in the future.


Amongst the benefits of DNG formated images is that they are a "container" kind of file and they contain the XMP data within the DNG file. So, if you were to move the raw formated file to a different folder (or computer) from where the xmp file is located, all of your adjustments would not show up. As such, it's important to move the raw file AND the xmp file together. However, if you moved the DNG file to a different folder (or computer), all of your adjustments would appear as you last left them. Note in the screenshot below that the file size of the side-car files are very tiny. Also note that the size of the DNG file is typically smaller than the raw file it came from (but not always).


If you did not convert your raw images into the DNG format during the importing process, you can always do that at ANY time via Adobe's DNG Converter which can be downloaded from here. Note that the DNG Converter will automatically combine any XMP sidecar file with the raw file during the conversion process so that once complete any changes you made with the raw file are already "there" with the DNG file.


In addition to raw or DNG images, you can also open JPEG and TIFF images (but not PSD (Photoshop documents)) in ACR and do almost all of the adjustments that you can do with any raw image on those image types as well. To do this, you can either select the image and press Command/Control-r or right-click on an image and select "Open in Camera Raw...":


Or click on the four-sided wheel in Bridge's tool icons:


However, there are some settings in ACR's preferences you should be aware of. Bridge is unique in one special regard, when going for setting the preferences, you will find two: one for "Camera Raw Preferences..." and one for "Preferences..." (this being specifically for Bridge). Here you need to select the former. Toward the bottom you will see some dropdown menu options for JPEG and TIFF Handling. You will see three options for both. The top one, "Disable..." is if  you NEVER ever want to process that kind of image in ACR. The bottom one "Automatically..." will ONLY let you process a JPEG or TIFF image in ACR first. The middle one, "...with settings." lets you open either a JPEG or TIFF image into ACR using the same commands as shown above on raw images but if you select the image and then either double-click or press Command/Control-o, the image will open in Photoshop. In other words, it lets you process the image the way that YOU want to.


There are a couple of limitations to opening a non-raw image in ACR, most of which involve layers and thereby show up with TIFF images: if you've previously opened your TIFF image in Photoshop and created any layers of any kind, you cannot open that image in ACR. The annoying aspect about this is if you were to open the image and flatten it by deleting the layers or by flattening the image and go back to Bridge, you still will not be able to open that image in ACR via Bridge. At that point what you need to do is, after the flattening and closing the image, to go into Bridge's Tools menu -> Cache  and then select "Purge Cache for  folder "(name of folder)." Once you've done that, you can then open up that TIFF image in ACR. Keep in mind though that if you have any other images in the same folder with layers you will need to repeat that last step for each image. A more efficient approach is to flatten any and all of the images you want to work with AND THEN Purge the Cache for the folder.

After any image has been adjusted  in ACR, be it raw, JPEG, or TIFF image, you will see the icon in the image's thumbnail in Bridge showing that there's been  ACR adjustment.


Now, here's an important dynamic: the only Adobe applications that understand a raw/DNG image are either Bridge (only to properly display), or ACR or Lightroom (to display and enhance). Word, InDesign, Illustrator, and other Adobe applications do not understand and cannot display a raw image. But there's more. If you take a JPEG or TIFF image and do some alterations in that image in ACR, those changes can only be seen in Bridge, ACR, or Lightroom. If you try to open those ACR-adjusted images in either Word, InDesign, Illustrator, etc. the images will display as they did before the changes done in ACR. If you want those changes to be "sharable" with friends (who do not have ACR) or other applications, you need to do a "Save as..." with those images into new JPEG or TIFF format from ACR with the changes. These new images now like any normal JPG or TIFF images and can be placed within other applications and/or be emailed and shared with friends.


Sharing ACR adjustments  within Bridge

Despite all of this opportunity to open images in appropriate "other" applications, in fact, there's only a few things you can actually DO to an image by Bridge, in Bridge: one of the very few is the basic operation of rotating the image CW or CCW. The one special dynamic here is that once that's done, this new orientation will be recognized by any other Adobe application. In most DAM (Digital Asset Management) software that I've worked with lets you rotate the image in that application but is ignored when you place that image into another application. Otherwise, there  are some important processes you can do with ACR-altered images in Bridge and this has to do with Copying and Pasting any settings from ACR.


It's fairly common for more than one image to need the same general adjustments as other images in any given shoot. When selecting images to open in ACR, you can add to your image count by Shift-click to get continuous images from the Content Panel (or Command/Control-click to get discontinuous images), and double-clicking on one of the selected images will open all of the selected images  into ACR at once. Now, if you Select All (Command/Control-a) you can adjust all of the images at the same time. But let's say you've opened one image, made some adjustments and later see another image that has very similar issues. You can at that point, right-click on the image and select "Copy Settings." Note that when you select "Paste Settings...," that option has an ellipse after the command letting you know that there will be a new window popping up. From that window you can deselect some of the settings such as any cropping or other adjustments that you do NOT want pasted into this image. By the way, although these key-commands are not shown, you can also Option-Command/Alt-Control-c and Option-Command/Alt-Control-v to Copy and Paste your ACR settings.


Lastly, note that the last option is to Clear Settings. Where this is important is if you converted your images into DNG format, you cannot simply delete the xmp "sidecar" file in the Finder/Explorer to remove any alterations you've made on the image. The DNG format is a "container" type of file and contains the xmp data. So this option, the Clear Settings, removes any alterations you've made to a file for good. Simply, one of the dynamics of raw/DNG images is that you cannot change any pixels in the image, only how the pixels are interpreted by the software. If you remove any interpretation, all you have left is how the image is generically viewed.



But not everything about an image is done to the image. Rather, there's a lot that can be done to the image's data. The Metadata, or "along with data," encompasses potentially a lot of information about that image.


Each of these categories contain different types of information that you can elect to include with the file. For example, the IPTC contains information mostly about you and the image such as Creator (photographer, Job Title, City, State, Zip, email(s), website, Copyright Notice, Copyright Status, plus many other potential items of interest/importance. This is quite a bit different from the IPTC Extension which can contain information about the subject, especially if the subject of the image is a person so that information about if the Model has signed release documents, the age of the Model, if this was taken at an Event, etc.


The Camera Data only contains the original date and time that the image was taken while the GPS contains the Latitude, Longitude, and Altitude of the image (if that data was available from the camera). [Note: my older DSLR did not have a GPS unit built in. To capture the GPS data I'd often take an extra image with my iPhone and manually copy and paste that data into these fields since the iPhone  automatically collects this data.]


If you are a hobbyist, you may not wish to deal with much of anything here but if you are a professional, having the ability to easily edit and apply this data to your image can save you inordinate amount of time and energy.


One of the things that Adobe has done is to make it very easy to update, and apply this information into the Metadata as well as into the image from either Bridge or Photoshop. After selecting one or every image in a folder, from within Bridge's Content Panel, from the File menu, go to the bottom and select "Get info..." Then simply select the Template you wish to use and you are done.


Although not shown in the image from Part 1 of this series, when you download images from your camera into your computer, if you select the "Advanced" view of Photo Downloader, one of the other options is to automatically install the Metadata template you've created.


Working with other applications

Probably one of the least-known features in Bridge is Bridge's ability to control the color space for all Adobe applications. It's probable that you've opened an image and tried to move it into a different image only to be told that the color space of one image isn't the same as the other image. Or perhaps you've tried to move an image into a InDesign document only to be told something similar.


Color Settings

Within Bridge is a simple single option at the bottom of the Edit menu called "Color Settings." When selected, you can coordinate all of your applications color settings to the same setting. This means that if in the morning you are working on web design, you can select "North America Web/Internet" and in the afternoon you are working on a printed mailer, you then can switch to "North America General Purpose 2" and you will not get any of those "incompatible" messages. And yes, you can customize these settings.



Batch Rename

As I explained earlier, Bridge is sort of like a hallway where you can easily go to other applications as needed to do your job. These are best displayed from the Tools menu. However, even before you get to other applications, let's say you have a folder with 200+ images and you've selected 14 of them and now want to rename them and have consecutive numbers for those 14 images.


Piece of cake.


From the top of the Tools menu, select "Batch Rename..."

A new window pops up letting you custom design a wide parameter of components into the name you'd like these files to have. VERY fast and easy.



Process Operations from Bridge to Photoshop

And now, digging more deeply into what Bridge can do when interacting with other applications, if you go to the tools menu and drop down to Photoshop, you see these options:


So, in order:


(1) Batch…: Let's say you've selected 30 images that you want to run an action you've created that lets you place a Watermark on any image.

Select the images and then select Batch from Tools -> Photoshop ->Batch. You then have the following window: [Note: this window is sufficiently wide that when reducing it's with for this blog would make it too small to be viably visible. As such I'm showing first the left section then the right section.]


From here you can select your new Action in the Play section. Since you've selected the images in Bridge, select Bridge as the Source. Then check or uncheck the various options and set the Errors option as need be.


Then choose where you want the saved files to be located. It's good to check any "Override Action for any "Save As..." Command in an Action. Finally, you can set any new continuous renaming for the files.


Click OK and all of those files will be done in very short order.


While you can only process one Action at a time in Batch, you can create new Actions that are a combination of independent Actions. Such as an action that resizes the image, places the watermark, and does a final sharpening. Now save that Action with a recognizable name. In Batch, select that Action and all three actions will be done on the selected images.


2) Contact Sheet II...: The term "Contact Sheet" comes from the time when people were working with film. The developing lab would take the negatives, physically lay them in direct contact on a sheet of photographic paper, hit it with light and you then had "instant thumbnails." Contact Sheet II is essentially no different except that you can control the size of the thumbnails. What you can't do is to see what you've created before you create it. Nonetheless, what you will get will be pretty straightforward.


If you are starting from Bridge, after selecting the images you want to use, then go to Tools -> Photoshop -> Contact Sheet II... Once you've selected that, you are jumped to Photoshop.


On the top of the control widow, you can either accept the images you selected in Bridge and/or select other images and/or folders of images. For the Document, the default is set for a US letter size document, customize as needed. Finally on the bottom, for Thumbnails you select how many columns and rows. The more columns and rows, the smaller the thumbnails and vise versa. Lastly, you can use each file's name as the name shown on the Contact Sheet. This will be processed into a PSD document which you can either Print as is or convert it into a PDF that you can send to someone to look over the images.



3) Image Processor...: One of my favorite selections from the Tools -> Photoshop options. As you probably know, when you take an image from your 30 MegaPixel camera, you do NOT want to send that photo out to all of your friends via email. Similarly, you do not want to send those images out to your Facebook page. In the former, if you send 10 images out to your friend, these images will store at 20-30 MB each. Send 10 images that's one email with 200-300 MB of data. You will not make or keep friends that way. If you send these images to Facebook, you now have the extended wait time for these large images to upload to Facebook and then Facebook will decrease them down to a reasonable size to display. However, if you decrease the pixel size and set a reasonable compression before you send them off, you get to keep your friends as well as keep your uploading time to Facebook down to a reasonable amount.


Not only is the Image Processor (IP) very practical, it's easy to use. It has 4 steps and you are done. After selecting the images you want to process in the Content Panel, select Image Processor and those image are ready to process. Step 1). If you didn't select the images before opening IP, you can click on the Folder icon on the left and select the images in a Finder/Explorer view. Step 2). Figure out where you want the processed images to end up. Step 3). Here you determine if you want JPEG and/or PSD and/or TIFF images and what dimension do you want the final size of the processed images. [Note: if you place (say) 1000 in the W and H, this will automatically work for portrait and landscape images. It does NOT turn the image from a rectangle into a square.] If you are saving to JPEG, do set the quality (generally a 7 is a good compromise for quality versus reasonable compression size). If the images will be viewed on a monitor (e.g., email and/or browser), do set "Convert Profile to sRGB." For PSD images (Photoshop document), Maximize Compatibility will increase final storage size a tad but will be visible to more software. Lastly, for TIFF images selecting "LZW Compression" will decrease the storage size of the image (but not that much for 8-bit images) but at the expense of the images may not be opened by some other software (other than Adobe software). Lastly, 4). If you have any pre-made Actions, you can call them up here (such as a pre-made Sharpen Action) to finish up the processor's actions.


Once you've set all of the options you want, click the "Run" button. At this point Bridge and Photoshop will be dancing back and forth as the images you've selected are processed one-by-one. It doesn't take long and when completed, you'll have a group of photos you can send to your friend or Facebook and not worry about overloading anyone's system.


4) Lens Correction...:  While this is available from Bridge, I'm not a strong advocate of using it. This is an automated correction  that once set in motion,  applies what it thinks your image needs and then returns you back to Bridge. In effect, it's not different from selection Lens Correction from Photoshop's Filter menu, except that it provides zero option for you to do any fine-tuning or personal finesse. To be frank, you are better of selecting the Lens Correction... from Photoshop's Filter menu or use the Lens Correction from within ACR.


5) Load files into Photoshop Layers...: Like it says, select two or more images from the Content Panel and open those files with this command all of the files will open in one document and each file will open in a different layer. This is particularly handy when (for example) stacking multiple short depth of field shots from Macro Photography to obtain a fully focused image.


6) Merge to HDR Pro...: Like it says, if you have several images that were taken of the same view but with different shutter speeds to make the images lighter/darker, you can select the images and then by selecting this option you will automatically go to Photoshop's HDR Pro for processing.


7) Photomerge...: Just like #6 but for Panoramas, if you have multiple images you've taken as part of a panorama, selecting the images and then selecting this option, you will automatically open Photoshop in its Panorama creating capabilities with all of the images ready in place.


8) Process Collections in Photoshop:  The Collections Panel is used to store "Found" items. That is, you could have a Collection of all of the Aunt Maud photos you have. It's also a place where you can store all of your proto-HDR and proto-panoramic images in a Collection. If you were to do this, you'd see all of the related images automatically place themselves into Stacks. When you select this option, all of your HDR and Photoshop images will self-process themselves into HDR and Panoramic images. The good thing about this is that it is completely automatic and you do not have to do a thing. The bad thing about this is that it is completely automatic and there's nothing you can do. So, if you want to see all of your images processed letting you  determine which ones deserve more care and unique handling, this is great and lets you do that. But if you tend to want to spend your time finessing every image, this may not work out for you.


But there's also Adobe Illustrator

Just beneath Photoshop in the Tools menu is Illustrator. Alas there is only one option but it's a good one: "Image Trace..."

Select any PSD, TIFF, or JPEG image and then select "Image Trace..." If Illustrator is not open, it will open and process the bitmapped image into a vector image. Once the image is in Illustrator, and the basic processing is done, you can still tweak and work with the image. However, to be able to tweak the result, be sure to uncheck the option: "Save and Close Results." If you check that, whatever was processed in Illustrator will be saved and closed. The other option here: "Vectorize To Layers in Single Document" means that if you have more than one image selected, and this is checked, you will have 1 Illustrator document with as many layers as you had images processed. Otherwise, you will have one document per image.


Once in Illustrator, as long as the image is selected, you can continue to manipulate and finesse the image as you so chose. Remember you can bring up the Image Trace Panel to have complete access to all of the tools by either clicking on the Image Trace icon in the tools Panel, or selecting the Image Trace Panel from the Windows menu and select it from there.



And So…

So, as you can see, while you can do very little "on" an image in Bridge, there's a tremendous amount you can do "with" an image in Bridge. For those who find that Lightroom does all they need, that's great. I am an avid user of Lightroom as well and find it invaluable for family events, traveling, and any professional gigs that come my way. But when I have one-off image shoots or people send me some images. I do NOT wish to add that to any Lightroom Collection and am satisfied to only review, play Keep & Toss, or process the images and I'm done with those images. That can best be done in Bridge. When you add that I can see PDFs, InDesign documents, Illustrator documents, Word and Text documents, etc. in Bridge (which cannot be done in Lightroom), that means that I can work with and follow an entire project in Bridge.



In the 3rd and final section on Bridge I will discuss how to find particular images within folders in Bridge. This will include using Labels, Ratings, using Bridge's Filter Panel and Keywords.

Part 1 in a 3-part article on using Adobe Bridge


[Part 1] [Part 2] [Part 3]


Bridge grew out of a  single Palette from within Photoshop called "File Browser." . By the time Creative Suite 2 arrived, Bridge was an actual separate program and was part of the default installed applications. By removing File Browser from PS, all of the Adobe Applications could now interact with Bridge providing significant interactivity throughout most of Adobe's applications. Now, long overshadowed by Adobe Lightroom, Bridge seems almost as an afterthought. But do not be fooled, Bridge remains a very important and valuable tool in your software arsenal.


There are a specific times when I want to use Lightroom as when I've been on vacation or have had a professional shoot and I  need to have repeated access those images as well as the features that Lightroom provides. Alternatively, if I have been provided a collection of  files for a website or newsletter that I'm creating (not all images) and I only need to work with the files for a defined amount of time, and I do not need or want to work in Lightroom's catalog, I must have Bridge. Simply, I use both depending on the task at hand.


If you are unfamiliar with Bridge, it is a tool to let you quickly examine documents of all kinds with an emphasis on images of all kinds. One of the most common observations that people make when opening up Bridge for the 1st time is "It doesn't seem to 'do' anything." While that statement is kinda true, it doesn't tell the whole story. For this article I will focus on images but keep in mind that you can work with a wide variety of documents although you may not be able to have the same level of interaction with them as you can with images.


Simply, if you have a folder of images and you want to see what you've got and which images you want to spend some time on in Photoshop, and/or which images to use for (say) a newsletter, Bridge is the fastest and most convenient way to do that task. There's quite a bit more that Bridge can do, but at a minimum, it helps you navigate your images, helps you narrow down the images you want to keep, and/or helps you determine which  images you want to provide extra time with in Adobe Camera Raw and/or Photoshop.


By the way, this article will help you organize and customize Bridge so it can work for you. There is also a 2nd article explaining how to do things in Bridge and a 3rd article on how find images in Bridge. Do look for them, they are nearby. Also note that I have a number of small tidbits of information about and how to use Bridge. If I included EVERYTHING about Bridge here, this would have been a significantly larger article.


Starting  Bridge

When you first open Bridge, it's probably going to look a bit confusing: there are three columns of Panels, some sharing the same column, some by themselves, and you may not be sure to know which way to look or why, and most important, there's not much feedback to know what to "do." One of the most common complaints is why does the image in the Preview Panel look barely larger than the size of the thumbnails in the Content Panel? Why bother, what good is such a small Preview?



Getting your images into your computer

While you may already have a number of folders of images, if you have images currently in your camera, Bridge can help you bring them into your computer. Yes, you can do this directly in the Finder or Explorer but there are several extra features by using Bridge's Photo Downloader.


Regardless whether you plug your camera directly into your computer or use a Card Reader (main benefit: doesn't require use of your camera's battery), you can transfer all of your images into your computer with Photo Downloader. PD can automatically start up (via Bridge's Preferences), or you can start it by clicking on the little camera icon in the upper left corner of Bridge's window, or select "Get Photos from Camera" from the File menu, the PD window opens up.


Since I do not have a camera card connected at the time of this screenshot, PD is letting me know that no device was found. Other than that, most of the settings are very straightforward about locating where you want to images to end up, subfolder names, etc. The points of note are further down. The checkbox for "Open Adobe Bridge" simply says that if not open already, Bridge will open and come to the front. "Convert to DNG" is an excellent thing to do at this point if you wish to do it. Read further on for some of the advantages of the DNG format.


I recommend that you do NOT select "Delete Original Files" as re-formating a card should be done in your camera. The last option "Save Copies to:" is great when you  wish to download your images to your camera AND an external hard drive at the same time to make sure you have backup copies.



Opening Folders in Bridge

Again, for this article we are focusing on images. Let's look at the way one can open folders in Bridge. Surprisingly, there are a number of ways to do this but none of them involve going to the "File" menu and selecting "Open Folder..." or any other menu operation. While you can open any number of new Bridge windows as you want, there's no menu mechanism to open a specific folder.


For the Mac and the PC:

  • From within Bridge you can go to the Folders Panel and navigate your way to the folder of your choice.
  • From within Bridge, select the Favorites Panel and select a folder that contains the folder you want or contains the folder you want. For example, if you click on the "Desktop" folder,  in the Contents Panel you will see all of the contents currently in the Desktop.
  • Then either by navigating within the Folders Panel, you can drill down into your desired folder, OR by double-clicking in the Contents Panel you can open and/or drill down to your desired folder to open that folder in Bridge. Also, if you come to a fork in your folders, you can always right-click on the containing folder and open that folder in a New window. This will give you two open Bridge windows. [Note: you can add custom folders to the Favorites Panel, this is discussed later.]

For the PC:

  • If you have a Shortcut to Bridge on your Desktop, you can drag a folder over that Shortcut and that folder will open in Bridge.
  • Similarly, let's say you have a folder of images already open in Explorer, you can drag a single image file onto the Shortcut and that will open that folder in Bridge.
  • If you have Bridge in your Task-bar and drag an image onto the Bridge icon in the Task-bar, that will add that image to the "Pinned" list. At any time you can double-click that pinned image and open that folder in Bridge. Dragging a folder of images to Bridge in the Task-bar will not do anything.

For the Mac

  • From the Finder, drag a folder of images to Bridge sitting in the (Mac's) Dock (running or not) and Bridge will open (if it isn't already) to that folder of images.
  • If you have a folder of images open in the Finder and drag anyone of those images onto the Bridge icon in the Dock (running or not), that will start Bridge (if it isn't running already) and display that folder's images in Bridge.
  • If you have a folder of images that is open, one other option is for you to  mouse-down on the folder's icon in the open window, you can then drag the folder's icon to Bridge's icon in the Dock.

As you scroll your eyes around the Bridge Window, you do start to notice a few things. First off, you can see thumbnails of all of the images in the folder in the Content Panel. In the upper right there's a Preview Panel that displays an image just a tad larger than the thumbnail shown in the Content Panel. On the lower right is a Metadata Panel, and adjacent to that is the Keywords Panel. In the upper left you see a Favorites Panel (with an option to add items). A Folder Panel is adjacent to that and below you see a Filter Panel as well as an adjacent Collections Panel.


Bridge, like all of Adobe's applications can be altered by the user to a new Workplace that suits your needs and work-flow. Adobe does supply a good range of pre-made Workspaces and these can be found both in a horizontal list across the top of Bridge's window or from the Workspace sub-menu from the Window (menu). Depending on how wide your window is, you may need to check these out via the dropdown arrow found just to the left of the Search field in the upper right corner. If you find that none of these Workspaces satisfy your needs you can make your own.


However, as pliable as Bridge is, there is one big limitation: there is only one window and there are the three columns and you need to work in that framework. Panels cannot float, but they can be removed from view if any specific panel is not relevant to you. However, you can open multiple windows of the same folder (or different folders) and each can have their own Workspace.


Customizing the Bridge Interface

If you wish to "customize" your Bridge Workspace, it is simply a matter of learning how to move the various Panels around. The good news is that NOTHING is going to break Bridge and at a minimum you can always go back to the original state of the Workspace from which you you  started. With that in mind, at any time you have Bridge open, you can mouse-down on any Panel's name and drag it to any other location in Bridge. So, for example, you can drag the Preview Panel into the Central Column as shown below.


In the image above, in the red outline, you can see the gray outline of the Preview Panel as it is being dragged over the Content Panel. When you see the entire Panel in blue outline, that means that that Panel will share the same space together as you can see in the Meta-data and Keywords region in the lower right.


Now, if you grab the Contents Panel tab and drag to the right, if you place your mouse toward the very top of the right-hand column, you can see a single horizontal dark blue line as opposed to a box around the entire item in the column as we saw before.


When you get that single horizontal blue line as opposed to a full rectangle, that means that the previous contents within that column will now slide down to make room for the moved Panel to exist above the previous Panels.


With that in mind, the following image shows how I like to have my Bridge laid out.


What I find is that this layout now provides a good quick view of the thumbnails and a larger view of the selected image. I have this set up to display the thumbnails 3 wide, I find that a comfortable number to scan but you can change that by changing the width of the right-side Panel or by increasing/decreasing the size of the thumbnails. To change the width of the Panels, move your cursor to the region between two Panels and notice when it changes from a regular black arrow to the "pushme-pullyou" cursor and then you can mouse-down and drag left or right


Alternatively, you can go down to the bottom of the window and change the size of the thumbnails by either clicking on the small rectangle or the large rectangle or by simply dragging the Size Guide left or right. Regardless how how you do this, there is a bit of a game of going back and forth between these two options to get the number of thumbnails you want at the size you want.


In my basic Workspace, at the upper left you have your navigation and in the lower left you can both look at the Metadata, your Keywords, and work with any filtering you wish to do to narrow down the items seen in the Content Panel. [More on this in Part 3.]


The Different Panels in Bridge

We've already discussed some of the Panels in Bridge, but there are many and some of them you may never need or want. You can turn the appearance of Panels On or Off from the Window menu. If you see a Panel with a checkmark, that means that that Panel is open. Selecting a Panel with a Checkmark will close that Panel. Here is a brief introduction to all of the Panels in Bridge. Remember these can be placed in either of the three Columns in Bridge's window.


  • Folders Panel: Displays the Folders on your Hard Drive as they appear in the Finder or Explorer
  • Favorites Panel: Displays a few of the Folders on your Hard Drive without having to "get to them." You can add specific folders to this Panel at any time.
  • Metadata Panel: Displays the unique Metadata of any file
  • Keywords Panel: if you've assigned keywords to your images, you can see what you've added from this Panel as well as assign other Keywords TO an image.
  • Filter Panel: When in a Folder of images, any images that have specific attributes will be displayed in this Panel. As such, if you have a mixture of (say) Landscape and Portrait images in the same folder and only wish to look at the Portrait images, by clicking on the Portrait images all of the Landscape images will be ignored. Similarly, if you have DNG, TIFF, and JPEG images in the same folder and have already selected Portrait images, if you then click on JPEG images, only Portrait images that are JPEG will be displayed.
  • Preview Panel: Will display any selected image(s) from the Contents Panel (no more than nine at a time).
  • Inspector Panel: This Panel is only useful for those making Scripts for Bridge. For more information see this information.
  • Collections Panel: Good for holding images of a given kind that may be across many folders. For example, if you've gone to many places that have lighthouses, you may chose to have a Lighthouse Collection. These are essentially aliases (Mac) or shortcuts (PC) and do not contain the actual image, only a link to that image. This also has "Smart Collections" where you can establish specific criteria for images in a given folder (or folders within a given folder) that if matched, will automatically place an alias/shortcut of the image into THAT Collection without you having to move it there yourself.
  • Publish Panel: This is a brand new panel in Bridge CC-2017 that lets users Publish directly to Adobe Stock. Because publishing to Adobe Stock is completely outside of the focus of these articles, I will direct you to this web page for more information on this new feature.
  • AOM Adobe Output Module Panel. This is the only Panel not automatically installed in Bridge and must be installed by the user. It can be downloaded here with full instructions at this page for how to install the Panel. In addition, it doesn't show up under the Windows menu and in fact can only be seen when the Workspace "Output" is selected. Although hidden and initial access is not very user friendly, what AOM does provide is the ability to create PDFs of your images placed on pages as well as images that can be placed on websites in either HTML or Flash based Galleries. This module is very dated and hopefully will be updated at some point. As such, it's value is limited but it does have some value.


The Non-panel Selection: the Path Bar

There is one extra option in the Widows menu that I always have "on" but is not a Panel: it's the Path Bar. When this is de-selected, it does provide a smidgen extra of vertical space that might be beneficial to laptop users who need/want that little bit of vertical space but the loss of that set of tools to me is not worth the loss of the space.


On the left of the Path Bar (shown below) shows the "Bird Trail" of where you are in your computer. From here you can always back up by clicking on a previous folder or location. In addition, if you are in a folder that contains many folders, you can right-click on the rightmost arrow-head and select "Show Items from Subfolders" which does exactly that. So, for example, if the folder you have opened is (say) San Diego and within that folder may be other folders such as "Old Town," "SD Zoo," and "Beach," rather than opening up each one separately you can see all of the San Diego photos all together. Be advised that that Bridge will need to Cache each image again (even if it has already for the individual folders) so viewing may require a minor pause while the viewing cache is created.


On the right side of the Path Bar (shown below) are some tools for Bridge. The left two are a dropdown menu as to how Bridge will display your images: "Embedded," "High Quality on Demand," or "Always High Quality." This will help either speed up Bridge or improve viewing quality of the images. The Rating dropdown menu is a quick access location to display the ratings and/or labels you've assigned to your images. The "Sort..." provides a variety of options to view you images and in which order. The third from the right icon lets you open up recent images into Photoshop. [If you want to open up a recently opened folder in Bridge, click on the "clock" icon in the above screenshot just to the left of the "boomerang" icon.] The second icon to right is the "New Folder" icon. If you have a bunch of images that deserve to be within their own folder, create that new folder, name it, and move this group of images into that folder. Remember, all actions you do within the views of Bridge will be concurrent with what takes place in either the Finder or Explorer. Lastly, the icon on the far right is the "Trash" icon, have an object selected in Bridge and click this and it will be deleted. The default Preference is to have a popup window asking if you really want to delete this/these items but you can check a box so that that (safety) popup does not show up. Your call.



Saving Workspaces in Bridge

After doing  all that customization, what you should do now is to save that workspace or you'll have to rebuild it any time you reset your workspace and/or delete your Bridge's preferences. Creating a custom workspace is easy to do: you only need to click on the name of the Workspace at the top of Bridge's window and open the dropdown list of Workspaces and select New Workspace. From there you can name it (I'd suggest something short, I use "Gary") and that's it. Your new Workspace will show up at the top of the list. You can create any number of custom Workspaces. If you do than it's best to select a name that is more informative than just your name.


At any time you can change the appearance of a Workspace to satisfy your needs for that moment. You can change the width of any Panel as well as the size of the entire Bridge window. You can remove Panels, add new Panels, whatever. If you wish to have the Panels returned to their original appearance, simply select Reset Workspace as shown at the top of this dropdown menu. If you create a new variation you like, you can keep it by simply selecting "New Workspace" and saving the new iteration.


You might have noticed that the Workspaces are listed not only in that Dropdown list just shown but also across the top of the Bridge's window. Personally I  almost exclusively use my workspace and occasionally the Light Table Workspace that is almost at the end of this list. If you want to make the latter more accessible, simply mouse-down on the Light Table Workspace (or whatever Workspace you wish to move) and drag to the left (or right) so that it lands in a location that is good for you. You can move all the Workspace names to the order you want. By the way, if you find that there is very little room for all of these names to show up on the top of your Bridge's window, note that there is a Vertical Bar on the left side of the Workspace names, this can also be moved left or right by simply clicking on the vertical line and dragging left or right as you see fit.



Customizing the Favorites Panel

Perhaps you are like me and do not keep your images in your computers default "Pictures" folder. Or you keep then on a 2nd hard drive. That, or you have your images in multiple folders across your hard drive that you want easy access to. That's why there is a Favorites Panel and the option to "Drag Favorites Here…"

Any folder you see in the Folders Panel or from the Content Panel can be transferred to the Favorites Folder simply by right-clicking and selecting "Add to Favorites"


In addition, from the Folders Panel or the Content Panel or from the Finder or Explorer you can also simply drag a folder to the bottom of the Favorites Panel to have quick and easy access to the contents of that folder.


Simply, the whole purpose of this article is to show that by customizing the Bridge interface, you can achieve a functional layout that meets your expectations.

As stated earlier in this article, while Bridge itself doesn't seem to "do" anything to a file, it is a great way to get to places to do things to files and is much more efficient that trying to do the same thing in either the Finder or Explorer.


Viewing your images

One of the things that sets Bridge apart from other DAM programs (Digital Asset Management) is that Bridge displays your images in the image's true color. Assuming that your monitor is calibrated, when you display an image, Bridge has gone into the guts of that file to display the true contents of that file, not the JPEG shortcut. It is because of this, Bridge may not be as lightning fast as other file management applications in displaying your images. In addition, when first opening up a folder of images, you are likely to see your images first appear with a black line around the image and then the line will disappear which will coincide with an improvement in the quality of the thumbnail. Below you can see the black line around the right image while the left image has been processed by Bridge.


Sometimes the quantity of images within a folder can be extensive. In addition, if you take panorama or HDR images (or panoramic HDR images), the number of total images can be overwhelming.


To help deal with this, one of the options you have is to select "Autostack HDR/Panorama" from the Stack menu or you can select a specific group of images and select Stack from the same menu. This adds the ability of "stacking" a group of images that are neither HDR or panorama images but could be manually collected as a Stack (e.g., all of the images of the cake cutting at a party).


I've found the Auto-Stack to not be reliable and can break HDR or panorama image sets into strange sets of Stacks. As such, when I use Stack, I prefer do it manually so I can insure the collection is what I want/expect it to be.


After images are set in Stacks, the "stacked" images will appear with a number in the upper left corner (and appear as a stacked group of cards). If you click on the number, they will expand so you can see all of the images in that stack. Re-click on the number and they will re-stack.




Bridge is a unique application that by itself doesn't really do all that much to your files. However, as a support application, it can save you extensive amount of time,  help to organize your files, and a host of other duties. However, it's initial user interface does not do the best job leading one to those potential benefits. As such it is up to you to work with Bridge and see what Panels you find useful and those that are not and manipulate the Bridge window to best let Bridge work for you, not hinder you. The good news is that nothing is held in concrete and you can change and adapt Bridge as you see fit any time you want.


In my next (2nd) article in this series, I will explain some of the nuances to opening  JPEG, or TIFF images into Adobe Camera Raw from within Bridge as well as Bridge's features to let you process many images with limited interaction by you, maintain color consistency throughout all of your Adobe applications, and a bunch of other bulk processing techniques.


In my third article I will show you what can be done  from within Bridge to find your images which will include using the images metadata, Rating, Labeling, and Keywording.


In the meantime, customize your Bridge, go play!

Editor's Note: This is one of a continuing series of interviews with notables in the creative industry. This week, we talk with the immensely talented Bert Monroy. Check out his amazing photo-realistic work here.


Your Name

Bert Monroy



#1 What is your primary job title?



#2 Who or what inspires you?

Maxfield Parrish, Richard Estes and life.


#3 What do you think about when alone in your car?

Whatever is important or cool that particular day. Sometimes what isn’t.


#4 Share a life lesson you learned?

Don’t put things off, get them done.


#5 Favorite period of history?




#6 What projects are you working on right now?

A street scene in Paris. It is a breakaway from my usual work in that, due to a new machine, I have increased the size and res of the image giving me more detail than ever before.


#7 Describe your personal style.

Work wise my style is Hyper-realistism. Life, intense and laid back at the same time.


#8 What tech tools do you use in your work?

Illustrator and Photoshop.


#9 When did you know you'd found your calling?

Been drawing since I was 2.


#10 What's your super power?



#11 Peanut Butter: Creamy or Chunky?



#12 What makes you happy?

The simple things in life like a hike in the woods or a good plate of pasta.


#13 What do you do to relax?




#14 Your place of birth?

New York City


#15 Favorite artist or art movement?

Richard Estes and the rest of the artist in the Photorealism movement.


#16 Share a funny moment from your career?

I was once in Chicago to do a demonstration of PixelPaint. I specified that the machine needed to have and 8-bit board to handle the 256 colors.


When I arrived, the machine was not as ordered. With the guts of the machine spread out all over the table, I had to stall and entertain the audience of about 500 people for 45 minutes while Apple Chicago brought the right video card so I could do my thing.


Fortunately not a single person left.


#17 Color of the car you drive?

Green Honda CRV


#18 Any new skills you'd like to learn?

Playing the piano.


#19 How do you get your news?

Ear to the ground. Newspapers, TV, Internet anything that comes at me.


#20 Advice to other creatives?

Do what you love and are passionate about. Don’t be swayed by what others think of your work, do what comes from your heart.