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.