The Bridge sits at the centre of the Adobe Creative Suite
allowing users of applications such as Photoshop, Illustrator,
InDesign and GoLive to benefit from features
such as: view, rotate, search, sort, label, rank, annotate, rename and
even editing of digital image files. Of course, being a standalone
application means that all of these features are delivered
independently of the individual Creative Suite applications thus reducing
the processor and memory overheads, which in theory makes it faster.
Bridge also has the ability to have multiple windows open at the same
time, and these can be placed on a second monitor. Nevertheless, whilst
many believe these improvements take the concept of image browsing and
management to a new level of power and convenience they also acknowledge
that Bridge still lacks some important features, chief of which is the
absence of a high resolution preview or loupe mode.
Figure 1 - Bridge Filmstrip View and Slideshow
At first many Bridge users thought the built-in slideshow, which also
allows you to rate and label images was sufficiently large for
previewing, and for some it is. Others were disappointed and voiced their
dissatisfaction widely. In particular, photographers requiring 100%
previews found that neither Filmstrip view or the Slideshow offer
enough resolution. The problem with both these options is that they're
based on the cached preview, which is limited to 1024x1024 pixels, and at this
resolution the previews aren't good enough for critical image assessment.
With the introduction of version 1.02 update in July 2005 many hoped for
some improvement, but they were to be disappointed. To be fair there was
a modest improvement in that something close to full-screen
previews (i.e. pressing the "D" in slideshow) was provided
but the resolution was still very limited. Fortunately there is a workable
solution in the form of Camera Raw 3's Filmstrip mode.
Figure 2 - Camera Raw in Filmstrip Mode
There are many ways to configure the Bridge window and the screenshot
below is one that I have saved as a Workspace (Window menu > Workspace >
Save Workspace). Although not too different from the default I
find this particular layout more useful because the space normally taken
up by the preview panel is now available for other more useful purposes
(e.g. metadata and/or folders).
Tip: it's possible to associate a keyboard shortcut with
up to 7 saved workspaces. If you haven't already used this feature then
I recommend that you do because it's a real time saver.
Figure 3 - Bridge Customised Folder View
Keyboard shortcuts: for simplicity the keyboard
shortcuts are shown in Windows/Mac format; e.g. Ctrl/Cmd+R
should be read as Ctrl+R (Windows) or Cmd+R
Step 1 - Selecting the Images
Manual selection of the non-contiguous images is achieved by
"clicking" on individual images whilst holding down the Ctrl/Cmd
key. Alternatively, you can make a bulk selection of contiguous images by
"clicking" the first and last whilst holding down the Shift
key. Selecting every image in a folder is really easy requiring only that
you hit the Ctrl/Cmd+A keys. Obviously the more images you
select the more you can review. However, be aware that opening too many
images into Camera Raw will slow it down so I suggest that you try not to
exceed 200, or thereabouts.
Step 2 - Open Images into Camera Raw
There are a number of ways to open the selected images into Camera
Raw: Ctrl/Cmd+O opens the selected images into a Photoshop
hosted version of Camera Raw or Ctrl/Cmd+R opens them into
a Bridge hosted version of Camera Raw. However, both methods leave the
Bridge window open in the background and this may not be ideal. If you're
like me and prefer to close the Bridge window when Camera Raw is launched
into Photoshop, then use Ctrl/Cmd+Alt/Option+Return.
Unfortunately, there is no similar shortcut for a Bridge hosted option.
Tip: when Camera Raw is hosted by Photoshop, Bridge can
be working away in the background building the cache for other
folders/subfolders, whereas a Bridge hosted instance of Camera Raw will
cause background caching to stop.
Tip: when Camera Raw opens it will immediately begin the
process of building the high resolution preview images. Fortunately, it
does so on-the-fly, but be aware that takes it time to generate these
previews. The yellow alert icon that appears on the top right of an
image signifies that the high resolution preview is being generated.
When you select an image Camera Raw gives it priority and the preview
will usually be fully generated within a second or two. Usually this
means that the image initially appears soft, almost like it's out of
focus, but then it quickly snaps into focus.
Figure 4 - Camera Raw Filmstrip Mode
Step 3 - Configuring Camera Raw for 100%
Whilst the objective of this tutorial is to demonstrate how Camera Raw
can be used for 100% previews it's also important that it does so in an
efficient manner. For example, simply selecting each image from the
filmstrip and hitting the Ctrl/Cmd+Option+0 keys to zoom it to100%
will drive you nuts, especially when you're trying to preview lots of
images. The most efficient method is to choose Select All
using either the button or Ctrl/Cmd+A.
Figure 5 - Camera Raw 100% View
With all of the images now selected you can choose 100%
from the magnification pop-up (Figure 5, red circle) or better still use
the Ctrl/Cmd+Option+0 keys. Either way will have the same effect,
in so far as Camera Raw is now configured to show each image at 100%.
Next hit the Shift+Ctrl/Cmd+A keys to deselect the images.
Ste 4 - Previewing the Images
Previewing the images at 100% is now as simple as
"clicking" on them or using the "down-arrow" key. If you
hold the Spacebar key down the Hand Tool
appears, which allows you scroll the image in any direction using the
To rate an image hit the Ctrl/Cmd+1 through 5
To label an image hit the Ctrl/Cmd+6 through 0
To mark an image for deletion hit the Delete
key, a large red X will appear in the top left corner of the thumbnail.
Note: The numeric keypad (right side of
keyboard) cannot be used to apply labels or ratings with Camera Raw.
Tip: When working in Camera Raw film-strip mode
you might find that after
adjusting an image the keystrokes for Next (Down-arrow key) and
Previous (Up-arrow key) image no longer function... frustrating isn't
it? The normal solution is to use the mouse to click the little triangle
buttons found at the bottom right corner of the image preview window. However, there is a much faster
method that doesn't involve the mouse, i.e. Next image ~ Cmd/Ctrl+Right-arrow
key and Previous image ~ Cmd/Ctrl+Left-arrow key.
Figure 6 - Ratings, Labels and Marked for Deletion
Once you've completed your review of the images simply click the
Done button and return to the Bridge. In Bridge you should
find that all of the previews reflect any rating and/or labelling applied
in Camera Raw. Images that were marked for deletion in Camera Raw should
already have been deleted. Now wasn't that simple!
As Bruce Fraser says: "I agree that a loupe tool in
Bridge would be a better long-term solution, but it WILL be a long-term
solution. This way isn't all bad once you get used to it. (Command-A,
Command-R, Command-A, Command-Option-zero, then down arrow to go through
the images.)". Bruce is the author of a very useful book called
Real World Camera Raw with Photoshop CS2. If you're interested in
getting to know the true power of Bridge and Camera Raw, then I recommend
that you obtain a copy.
All of the keyboard shortcuts mentioned in this tutorial are listed on
the downloadable PDF's , which can be accessed from links at the bottom
of my Bridge & Camera Raw -
Keyboard Shortcuts article.