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In order to develop a more effective and creative digital post-production workflow, it's helpful to begin to think about how we work with Photoshop, Bridge, and Lightroom. As a teacher of these three different applications, I'm often bombarded with questions in regards to which one people should use: should I use this program versus that one, when should I do so, and also what program is best? What I want to do here in this movie is begin to dig into some of those questions by first conceptually talking about workflow, and then later by digging into some of the specifics.
Now for starters, I assume that you enjoy photography, and therefore, what you need is a workflow that increases your passion, expands your creativity, enlivens your vision-- in other words, you need something that's a boost, rather than something that drags you down. Now if we zoom a little bit closer into our overall workflow, we have capture on the left all the way to output on the right. Somewhere in the middle we have these different programs that we can use: Lightroom, Bridge and Photoshop. Now many people think of these applications as stand-alone applications, but that isn't quite right; rather, we need to begin to think about them as integrated, as part of the same family.
Then we have to ask ourself, when should we use this particular program versus another? Well, in order to answer some of those questions, sometimes I find it's helpful to step back a little bit and talk about how our workflow has actually evolved. So let's go ahead and do that for a couple of minutes. Well, it all started off with Photoshop. We worked with Photoshop, and that was the way that we processed images. But then along came Bridge and Adobe Camera Raw, and once that showed up on the scene, photographers got pretty excited, because there was a way to browse and find our images and then also process them in his raw processing context, which is really lightweight and fast and flexible.
So many people began to marry these two things into their workflow. Well, as time passed, people spent more and more time working with Adobe Camera Raw-- as a matter of fact, more time there than their actual work in Photoshop. Well, Adobe recognized that and the introduced a program which was called Lightroom, which we all know about. Now Lightroom kind of showed up on the scene, and people didn't really know what to make of it. At first, they said, "Well, why would I use Lightroom if I have Bridge?" But then soon people began to discover that Lightroom was much more than that, and they adopted it into their workflow. And really quickly Lightroom began to dominate, so much so that photographers now spend most of their time in Lightroom.
They still do specialized and precise work in Photoshop, and then occasionally they work with Bridge and Adobe Camera Raw. All right, well, let's take this a little bit further. Here are the three elements. We have Lightroom, we have Photoshop, and then we have Bridge and Adobe Camera Raw. Let's start off over here with Lightroom. Well one of the things that you want to think about with Lightroom is that really, the strengths of this program have to do with these three things: database, develop, and deliver. Now what the database has to do with is it gives us the ability to organize our images in some pretty unique and distinct ways.
We have the ability work with metadata, to add labels and ratings, and to keep track of where images are, and also to maintain the preview, so we can quickly access our images and work on those. We can also process the images in some really powerful ways by using different shortcuts, or techniques, and then ultimately we can deliver these files, whether it's by slideshow or web or print. Now Lightroom is a program that I like to think of that works on thousands of images. Well, how does that compare to say Photoshop? Well, in my mind, I think of Photoshop as power, precision, and perfection, and typically when you're working in Photoshop you're working on one or maybe a few more images at a time.
It's really small-scale, in regards to the volume of work, yet you're working on your photos in some pretty powerful ways. You go to Photoshop when you need that exact precision to create style or effect or to do something that's really distinct. Most of my images that end up in publication start in Lightroom, and then they are finished in Photoshop. Okay, well, how then does Bridge and Adobe Camera Raw fit into this equation? Well, I like to think of Bridge and Adobe Camera Raw as something that you use occasionally.
You go to Bridge when you're looking for images in a real brief way. You're not in power mode, you're not really going through your entire database, and you're not thinking about how you can work on a mass volume of photographs. It's also a little bit more broad-sweeping. Sometimes it's like you're working in folders, maybe 10 or so folders. You go through a few folders searching for something that you're really looking for, and it has that characteristic of being able to be a really good and effective browser. Now of course, there are people that work with Photoshop and Bridge alone.
They don't even work with Lightroom. Well, the thing that they are missing in that scenario is that they don't have the strength, the catalog strength that Lightroom gives us, in regards to all the database functionality. Now, we'll be talking about catalogs in much more detail later, yet as by way of a conceptual introduction, think about it this way: Over here on the left we have Lightroom. That is a tool that we are going to use really for our entire photographic library. It's our workflow tool from start to finish. It's directly connected to Photoshop, and Photoshop and Lightroom really work and speak well together.
They communicate well together. Then on the other side of the spectrum, we have Bridge and Adobe Camera Raw. That's a great tool, yet it's a tool that we are not going to be using very frequently. Well, when we'll actually use Bridge or Adobe Camera Raw, we'll use it in situations where we are searching for specific files that we can't work with in Lightroom. Let's say, for example, we want to search or browse through a folder that has PDF files in it. Or maybe it has PSD files, which doesn't have Maximized Backwards Compatibility turned on. Well, in those situations, we absolutely have to use Bridge.
Think about Lightroom really as a photographer's tool. Now it's designed to work with images, and also video files as well. Photoshop is an application where you really want to add that little bit of an extra special touch to your photographs, and then finally, Bridge is that tool that you'll use occasionally in order to access certain types of files. All right, Well, now that we've taken a couple of minutes to talk about the overall concept of working with these three different applications, let's take a little bit more of a practical, and a little bit more of a precise look at how we can actually work with these three programs.
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