Gear Talk
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Adobe Bridge and Photoshop Workflow

So if you follow this blog you’ll know I’m a huge fan of Photomechanic’s very impressive feature set. When it comes to culling and setting up a solid folder structure Photomechanic is the industry standard and over that last year I’ve been able to confirm this.

Import you card/s and let Photomechanic’s do the rest. Personally, I’ve setup my folder structure as follows:

  • Pictures
  • 2014
  • 2014.05.06 Project Name

So once that’s set up I used to just import that folder into Lightroom 5 and go about my usual workflow. Fast foward to today and the “folder” structure is still there. As an aside. I don’t know about you guys but I’m a folder kind of guy. Folders in my world as in business give hierachy, structure, and lends itself to have complete system to organize information. Folks, photography is just like anything else. A little order and simplification goes a long way in finding and perusing your images from previous weeks, days, months, and years.

So what’s up with Lightroom, it can do that as well

Yes, I know that but the thing is that after a lot of thought I realized that LR ways non destructive way of doing things RAW versus Edits was not something I really used. Once I processed an image or a set, I usually never really go back to them and do anything with them. So for me, that was a big realization which led to another thought, I never ever use Collections. Which I did, I really do but I never really got through its way of doing things. Again, if it isn’t in a folder structures chances of me going back and finding something are slim to none.

In comes Photoshop CS5 and Bridge

Recently, I’ve been buying videos from Ming Thein’s great collection and watching him and following his workflow has really enlightened me. Its almost like a little light bulb turned on in my brain. After this, I started watching Bridge videos in Youtube to get myself familiarized with its workflow and boy was I shocked in a positive way. I absolutely love it! Let me tell you why.

Leave it upto those Adobe guys to really think this through. Bridge was designed to be the central hub that ties into all the rest of the Adobe collection of apps, Indesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, etc. Well, for me Photoshop CS5 and Bridge was all I really needed it turns out.

In Bridge you can practically tear apart the way you can arrange any modules meaning you can arrange anything you want the way you work. In Lightroom, you can’t do that. The Develop module is just like you see and that’s it, like or leave it, it is what is. Is it nice, I think so but I just realized that I wasn’t really using Lightroom to the 10th degree. I used a few forked presets and had amassed a huge collection of them over the years but I really only used about 3-4. So without me noticing it, this started creating a little friction and I started to dislike the way I was doing things. I mean, I was pretty fast at working in Lightroom. After all, I had been using it ever since Lightroom 3 and all the way up to its latest iteration version 5 but still, the way I process and organized my images had not really changed.

Fast forward to today

Well, after pondeing how I was going to adapt to my new DAM ( digital asset management) I finally came to some basic configurations that really made visual sense to me.

I decided to create a folder structure based on what you already saw above and the following folders to the following:

2014.05.06 Project Name

  • 1_RAW files
  • 2_Selects
  • 3_Processed
  • 4_Ready to blog
  • 5_Flickr exports
  • 6_Documentary essay

Creating this file structure is as easy a two clicks via an application called Client Folder Maker which is on the Mac App Store by the way. So back to Bridge for a second remember that Photomechanic already setup my initial folder titled → 2014.05.06 Project Name. I highlight that folder and click “show in finer” and the Mac takes you there in a micro second, I hit a global hot key and voila within that folder the folder structure is pasted and that’s how I get to the following:

2014.05.06 Project Name

  • 1_RAW files
  • 2_Selects
  • 3_Processed
  • 4_Ready to blog
  • 5_Flickr exports
  • 6_Documentary essay

Once, this step is done, I quickly highlight the RAW files and drag them all into the RAW files folder. Gosh, I love this setup, boom, that’s done. Now withing that folder, I may rearrange Bridge to a couple setup I can click on a key and it rearranges everything to my heart’s content ( ie. Light Table, Previews, etc

) and I begin to do just what the folder says Select the images I want via pressing the space bar and going into a full screen view and star rating my images and perhaps some color labels as well. Red means a monochrome conversion and Yellow means a color conversion and Green means processed. So strike that latter because I know have 2 colors and no color. So basically my Selects are either Red, Yellow, or No Color, pretty simple ah. Once I actually process any of the images those get placed in the Processed folder (some edits done in Camera RAW and others in CS5). So now I have a folder with my RAW files, a folder with my Selects and a folder with my Processed images.

Folks, at any time I can go back to any of these folders and continue to judicously work on my files without feeling like I used to before in Lightroom. Again my worflow doesn’t meaning you can’t adapt something similar in LR but the way Bridge is design lends itself to this type of workflow better.

So rewinding back to the Processed folder. I simply go back and prepare those images with the size dimensions I so choose to and perhaps add a black frame around them (its my new thing hahah). Once those files are prepared they go into the Ready to blog folder. If I want to perhaps upload some images to Flickr, there is a folder for that too and now I also added a Documentary Essay folder which will house the final edits for any essay I may publish on my blog.

So folks, there you have it and I hope this short essay might enlighten some or perhaps give some ideas as to how to adapt your own systems.

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