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Every change that you make to your photos in Lightroom is in the form of instructions in a catalog. A catalog is a database. By default your changes are saved only into a catalog. And when that's the case, external programs like Adobe Bridge can't see the changes that you have made in Lightroom. Now even if you are using Lightroom as your primary digital asset manager, there will times when you probably want to see your photos in Bridge, if not Bridge proper then, in mini-Bridge, which is a smaller version of Bridge that's included right in the Photoshop interface.
So you are going want files in Bridge and mini-Bridge to reflect the changes that you have made in Lightroom. But by default they will not. So let's take a look at what Bridge sees when you make a change to a photo in Lightroom, and then talk about how you can improve the communication between the two programs. So here in my Lightroom Library I have a number of photos. Some of those are pixel-based images, like this TIFF; some are raw files in the Adobe Open Source format, DNG, like this one; and some are raw files in proprietary formats, like this NEF from a Nikon camera, or this RW2 file from a Panasonic Lumix camera.
I am going to select some of the photos here and make a change to them in Lightroom. I'll click on one and Shift+click on another here in Lightroom's grid, and then I'm going to go over to the Quick Develop module in the library, and I'll click on the Develop Preset menu here. And I'm going to go down to a category of presets that come with Lightroom. I'll use the Lightroom Black and White Toned Presets. From this menu, I am going to choose to turn these four photos to a Sepia tone. Now that the change has been applied to that top row of photos, let's take a look at Bridge to see if it can recognize that change.
Here are the same photos in Bridge. By default the photos in Bridge are sorted by file name, back in Lightroom they were sorted by capture time. So I am going to go up to the Sort menu in Bridge and change sort order to By Date Created. And now we have the same order in the two programs. But as you can see, the top row of photos has not been changed to sepia as Bridge sees the photos. So let's go back to Lightroom and see if we can figure out a way to set things up so that Bridge can see Lightroom changes. If you have already made changes to photos in Lightroom, as I have here, then what you can do is to select those photos, the ones with the changes, and go up to the Metadata panel and go down to Save Metadata to Files.
And if you happen to select some DNG files as well, you'll also want to choose Update DNG previews & Metadata. But I am just going to choose Save Metadata to Files now, or you can use the keyboard shortcut Cmd+S. And that brings up a dialog box that's a useful one to read. What Lightroom is telling me is that it's going to take that information that I've already saved into the catalog by default and it's going to save it somewhere else as well. Somewhere that Bridge can access. But that location depends on the file type. So for files that are JPEGs, TIFFs, PSDs, all pixel-based formats, or DNG format, Adobe's raw format, the metadata that contains the information that we are talking about will be saved right into the files.
As the message says, the metadata, which is in the XMP format, will be written into the original files. But when you have proprietary raw file, like the NEF files and the RW2 files that I have in this folder, that metadata will be saved outside of the actual files. Instead, it will be saved in sidecar files right next to original photo files. And that's because Adobe can't write back into the proprietary formats of the camera manufacturers. So that's good information to know, I'll click Continue there.
So the metadata has now been saved, either right into the files, as in the case of this TIFF, or into sidecar files. Now I am going to go back to Bridge, and as you can see Bridge can now read that information, and it displays those four photos with the sepia toning that I had applied in Lightroom. Let's go back to Lightroom again, because I want to show you that you don't always have to wait until you make a change and then use the Save Metadata command, instead you can set things up in advance so that metadata is always saved into a place where Bridge can read it, and that will save you the time and trouble of even thinking about it.
But doing that will only apply to files that you'll change in the future. So you'd still have to come in with the Save Metadata command that I just showed you on files that you have changed in the past. So I am going to go up to the Lightroom menu, that's the Edit menu on a PC, and I'll choose Catalog Settings. Here in Catalog Settings, I'll click on the Metadata tab, and I'll come down to this command, Automatically write changes into XMP. This is unchecked by default and that's why your changes in Lightroom, by default, are only written into the catalog.
As it says here, when this box is unchecked then changes made in Lightroom will not automatically be visible in other applications like Adobe Bridge. But when this box is checked, as I am going to do now, that warning goes away, because now other applications like Bridge should be able to read the changes that you make to files in Lightroom in the future. So now is the future, let's go ahead and make some more changes. I'll select this middle row of photos, clicking on one and shift-clicking on the last, and then, I'll make another change, again from the develop preset menu.
This time I'll choose Cyanotype as my tone preset. And that adds this blue tone to the four photos. Now that effect may take a moment to come up, but you should see it on all four photos. Now let's take a look a Bridge. And sure enough, this time Bridge recognizes the change that I just made to those four photos because I had turned on the preference in the Catalog settings. So those are a couple of things that you can do to get Bridge or other external programs that are looking at the same files you are changing in Lightroom to communicate better with Lightroom.
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