Adobe’s Bridge, Where Have You Been Hiding My Whole Life?

Photoshop Pro Jan KabiliPhotoshop Pro Jan Kabili Hosted on Zooomr

On Saturday I went down to Robert Scoble’s house in Half Moon Bay to film another episode of Photowalking with Thomas Hawk for ScobleShow. Robert and I have done three of these shows now (each one gets broken up into several segments) and have a couple more good one’s coming up in the near future with some other super talented photographers.

I think this one was my favorite one though. Why? Because I learned a heck of a lot about Photoshop and I also discovered Adobe’s Bridge software.

For this most recent episode, which should be out in a few weeks I’d assume once it’s edited, Jan Kabili flew in from Colorado to go through Photoshop with us and Robert video tapped while Jan gave me some fantastic pointers about my work flow process.

My work flow process is something I get questions about all the time. Do you shoot in JPG or RAW? How do you process your RAW files? Do you manipulate your photos and if so how? etc.

And what better person to critique my work flow and offer me pointers than Jan Kabili. Jan runs the the blog Photoshop Online. Jan is one of the most knowledgeable people about Photoshop on the planet. In addition to her blog, Jan’s written several books on Photoshop, has run several other blogs about Photoshop, and even though I thought I already knew a lot about Photoshop I think I probably doubled my Photoshop productivity by spending a few hours with her and getting her advice first hand on ways to increase my productivity and improve technique.

Probably the advice that I was most excited about getting from Jan was her introducing me to Adobe Bridge. I’ve heard tons about Bridge in the past, but for some reason it is just something that always slipped my mind and that I never bothered to actually explore. It came free with my copy of Photoshop but I’m embarassed to say I never actually checked it out.

Bridge’s most powerful feature (in my opinion) is that it allows you to see your RAW files in full screen format before opening them in Photoshop. With Windows Explorer (that I was using before) you can only see thumbnails of your RAW images without opening them and only if you install Microsoft’s RAW viewer plug in. While you can still open RAW files with Microsoft, this is time consuming. With Bridge I can just scroll right through my photos like I do with Windows Explorer except that I can see my RAW images at full size.

It was so nice to be able to see all of my RAW files in their full big screen glory *before* deciding to import them into Photoshop or not.

At present I’m taking about 200-300 photographs every day and processing maybe 20 images a day. Bridge already saved me a ton of time yesterday when I was processing my photos that I recently shot of Westlake for an upcoming issue of San Francisco Magazine.

I learned a lot more from Jan than just about Bridge though. Jan walked me through my entire photo process and gave me fantastic pointers all along the way. If you want to see how I process my photos, but more importantly, learn how I learned to process them even better, you won’t want to miss this episode of ScobleShow when Robert’s done editing it and has it up and online.

Another big pointer that I learned was that you can use the bracket keys to make the healing brush bigger or smaller. That one is going to be a big time saver as well.

Below is the shot that we worked on the most for our tutorial. We uploaded it previously here on my blog right after we finished processing it.

William and Holly in WestlakeWilliam and Holly in Westlake Hosted on Zooomr

Robert Scoble, Jan Kabili (photoshop whiz at and I just processed this image for ScobleShow.

Anyways, thanks to Robert and Jan for a great afternoon. Afterwards we went down to the Ritz Carlton, which is within walking distance of Robert’s place, and had a few drinks on what has got to be one of the best patios in the world to watch the Pacific. For a few photos of our afternoon you can click through here.

Oh and of course I probably should mention that we processed my photos from one of my kick ass 750 gig Seagate drives since Seagate sponsors Robert’s show. Sponsorship aside though, I recently purchased two of these 750 gig Seagate babies from B&H; Photo and they are awesome. One of the problems that comes along with taking 10 gigs of photos a day is that you tend to fill up hard drive space really fast. 750 gig drives are the biggest external drives that I know of (I can’t count LaCie drives beacuse they suck so badly) and the Seagate ones work very well.

By the way, if you want to see any of the four segments from our first episode of Photo Walking With Thomas Hawk, you can check them out here:

Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3
Episode 4

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  1. flightblog says:

    Great post! I was wondering how you managed your huge volume of photos.

    Have you tried Adobe Lightroom for RAW image editing?

  2. Ade says:

    Yes… Bridge is excellent for managing large numbers of RAW files. You don’t even need to open them in Photoshop at all – you can select a whole folder-full and adjust all their RAW conversion settings right there in Bridge. How did you manage without all this time?

  3. LeggNet says:

    Thanks for the heads up about Bridge. Your RAW workflow sounds very similar to mine – painstaking. I just ran Bridge and must say that I agree. I have avoided shooting RAW for my day-to-day stuff and only used it for the really important stuff. With the ease of workflow that Bridge affords, I am going to move over to RAW only.

  4. Thomas Hawk says:

    Hey flightblog, I haven’t tried Lightroom yet but Jan also had very positive things to say about Lightrooom as well. Apparently it is in free beta right now. I’m going to have to try that out next. Although now all of a sudden I’m kind of attached to Bridge.

  5. Gary Crabbe says:

    I actaully am surprised – A photo/tech-head like you, not aware of or using bridge? OMG! 🙂

    I don’t know how I managed without it for my own library. In fact, I haven’t needed any other catalog management software, especially for editing raw files w/ ACR and PSCS2.

    Have fun w/ it!

  6. Thomas in IL says:

    Hey Thomas,

    Do you have any idea when the videos from the 2nd Photowalk tour are going to be posted as well the one from October 7th:

    Just curious and cannot wait to see all these videos!!


    Thomas in IL

  7. Joe Reifer says:

    Tom –

    Bridge can be a useful program, and it’s part of my workflow. One unheralded advantage of using Bridge as browsing software is the previews are built from the actual files, which confirms file integrity. If there is a problem with corrupted RAW files, usually you’ll know right away.

    For the volume of images you are shooting, Photo Mechanic would be a much better application. Photo Mechanic is used by a lot of high volume event and sports shooters because the previews build so fast, and tasks like renaming and keywording can be an automated part of the import process. Sorting and rating 200-300 images a day will be so much faster than Bridge it will make your head swim.

    If you haven’t read Peter Krogh’s The DAM Book, there is no time like the present. This book is the gold standard for everything that needs to happen after you press the shutter release.

    My rather meticulous workflow uses Bridge and iView Media Pro – but when you’re taking 10 minute long exposures, you don’t have a lot of volume. 🙂



  8. I use Camera Raw exclusively now. Photoshop is overwhelming without a lot of practice.

  9. johnie1 says:

    Loved the shows (subscribed the Photoshop Online). Will watch out for further Photowalking, top work Chap.