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Using Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2 and Bridge Together

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Martin Evening shows you how you can improve the flow between working in Bridge and working in Lightroom.
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Bridge as a front end to Lightroom

Although Lightroom is advertised as being a member of the “Photoshop family,” Lightroom and Photoshop do at times feel more like distant cousins rather than close relatives. People are often puzzled about the relationship between Lightroom and Adobe Bridge and why it is you can browse images easily via Bridge, but in the case of Lightroom, you have to import everything first. The following tips do assume that you already own Photoshop CS2 or later and therefore have access to Adobe Bridge, which is the browser component of the Creative Suite (Adobe Bridge comes with Photoshop whether you buy the entire Suite package or just the stand-alone program). We are not done yet with drag-and-drop methods, because in addition to the technique shown on the previous page, you can use a drag-and-drop method to manage imports via Adobe Bridge. Over the next few pages I want to show you how you can improve the flow between working in Bridge and working in Lightroom.

  1. Wouldn’t it be good if you could have a hot button in Bridge that took you directly to Lightroom? Well, you can. All you need to do is navigate to the Applications folder (Mac) or Programs folder (PC) and add the Lightroom program as a favorite in Bridge. Just drag the application icon to the Favorites panel so that it is added to the list of Favorites.
  2. Once you have added Lightroom as a favorite to the Favorites panel, you can simply click on the Lightroom favorite to jump straight over to Lightroom from Bridge.
  3. And then when you are in Lightroom you can use the cmd_h.gif (Mac) or alt_tab.gif (PC) keyboard shortcut to hide the Lightroom window and return to the last used program, which in this case will be Bridge.

Adding a watched folder in Bridge

  1. Following on from the last example, you can add an auto-import folder as a Bridge favorite. In Lightroom, choose File arrow.jpg Auto arrow.jpg Enable Auto Import and follow this by opening the Auto Import settings dialog and choose a “watched folder.” Then go to Bridge and add this folder as a new Bridge Favorite.
  2. You can now drag and drop images from Bridge into the designated auto-import folder. These will then be automatically imported into Lightroom and appear in the Auto Import destination folder.

Importing folders into Lightroom via Bridge

  1. Unfortunately, you can’t drag and drop folders from Bridge onto the Lightroom program in Favorites and have them import. But if you keep an alias/shortcut of Lightroom on the Desktop, you can drag and drop folders from the Folders panel to the alias/shortcut.
  2. In this example I dragged the folder shown in Step 1 to the Adobe Lightroom alias icon, which launched the Lightroom Import Photos dialog shown here. This workflow technique will let you use Bridge to browse your computer hard disks to inspect image folders in detail before choosing which image folders to import.

Importing photos directly from the camera

At the time of this writing, there is no official support for tethered shooting in Lightroom (Figure 2.16). But if you can connect your camera directly to the computer and import photos to a folder, you can configure Lightroom to work in tethered mode. Photographs can be quickly brought into Lightroom, bypassing the need to import from a camera card. However, to do this Lightroom needs to rely on the use of camera manufacturer-supplied software that can communicate with the camera and download captured files to a specified folder location. Once such software is running, you can configure Lightroom to automatically import the photos directly into the catalog.

Connecting the camera to the computer

To shoot in tethered mode you need the ability to connect your camera to the computer. Ideally, you want the fastest connection possible. Most existing professional digital SLRs offer a FireWire (IEEE 1394) connection (although many cameras are now moving toward USB 2.0), which in practice allows you to shoot and download at about the same speed as you can with a fast camera memory card and in some cases quicker. The only downside is that you must have your camera connected to the computer via a FireWire or USB 2.0 cable, and this can restrict the amount of freedom you have to move about without pulling the cable out, or worse still, pulling a laptop computer off the table! Another option is to shoot wirelessly. At the time of this writing, wireless units are available for some digital SLR cameras that will allow you to transmit images directly from the camerato a base station linked to the computer. Wireless shooting offers you the freedom, up to a certain distance, to move about without the restrictions of a tethered cable. But the current data transmission speeds with some cameras are a lot slower than those you can expect from a FireWire or USB 2.0 connection. Rapid shooting via a wireless connection can work well if you are shooting in JPEG mode, but not if you intend on shooting raw files only. But of course, that may change in the future.

Camera capture software

Lightroom is able to appropriate the tethered shooting component of the camera communication software, and from there directly take over the image processing and image management. Here’s how it works: The camera communication software can be configured to download the files to a specific folder location. When the files appear in this “watched” folder, Lightroom can be configured to immediately copy the files into the Lightroom library. And because the files are simultaneously deleted from the watched folder, you effectively bypass the camera software and the images appear directly in Lightroom.

It is possible to use Lightroom in conjunction with the various Canon capture software programs designed for the Canon EOS range of cameras, and over the next few pages I have outlined the steps needed to set up a Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III to automatically import files directly into Lightroom via the Canon EOS Utility program. Nikon users will find that Nikon Capture includes a Camera Control component that works the same way as the Canon software and establishes a watched folder to download the images to. The latest version of Nikon Capture supports all the D Series cameras as well as the Nikon Coolpix 8700. Alternatively, you might want to consider buying Bibble Pro software from Bibble Labs ( Bibble Pro (version 4.9 at this writing) enables tethered shooting with a wide variety of digital cameras, and again allows you to establish a watched folder for the downloaded images. Unfortunately, I have not yet been able to test these other programs. Whichever program you use, you should be able to adapt the following steps to automatically import tether-captured images into Lightroom.

  1. To initiate a tethered shoot session you need to have the camera tethered to the computer and switched on. Next, launch the camera-supplied software, which in the example shown here is the Canon EOS Utility program. Here you can see the welcome screen, and I began by clicking the Preferences button so that I could configure the EOS Utility settings to get everything ready for tethered shooting.
  2. The preferences will vary with different tethered software programs. In this example I chose to make EOS Utility the default program that launched whenever the camera was connected to the computer. In the Destination Folder section I clicked the Browse button to select a destination folder for the downloaded images to go to. This was a new empty folder that I had added to the Desktop that was simply called “Watched Folder.” I clicked the OK button to close the Preferences dialog window and this took me back to the EOS Utility welcome screen.
  3. In the welcome screen window I clicked the Camera settings/Remote shooting button, which launched the EOS Capture window shown here. This lets you control the camera remotely. You can use this window to adjust the main camera settings such as the lens aperture, shutter speed, and ISO setting. Notice at the top of the window is the watched folder name you set in the preferences. Click the folder icon next to it to open the Destination Folder preferences shown in Step 2. You can click the large camera control button in the EOS Capture window to take photographs remotely. Or, you can use the camera body shutter release as you would do normally.
  4. You now need to go to Lightroom to complete the tethered link setup between Lightroom and the camera software. In the Lightroom File menu select Auto Import arrow.jpg Auto Import Settings.
  5. The Auto Import Settings dialog can be used to configure the import settings for the automatically imported files. These will be applied to all the images that are about to be captured and for the duration of the shoot. Click the Choose button and select the same watched folder as you selected in Step 2. Then go to the Destination section, choose a destination folder location, and enter a Subfolder Name for the current shoot. In this example I selected the same custom File Naming template as I used in Figure 2.1 and entered a short shoot description in the Custom Text field. I also selected a custom Metadata template and custom Develop Settings template. I then added some custom Keywords to apply as the files were imported.
  6. After you have done that, go to the Auto Import menu again and highlight the Enable Auto Import menu item to switch it on.
  7. We are now ready to shoot tethered. Here is how it works: as you start shooting, the EOS Utility imports the camera files directly to the watched folder you selected in Step 2. From there, Lightroom recognizes that a new image has been added to the watched folder and automatically imports these captures to the new Lightroom catalog folder that was specified in Step 5, using the preconfigured Auto Import settings. Basically, once you have configured a tethered shoot setup at the beginning of a shoot, you can leave all the settings as they are and continue taking pictures all day, apart from the times where you might need to edit the Keywords for a particular shot or apply a different default develop setting.

Speedier tethered shooting

You will notice that although I am normally a Macintosh user, I choose to run Lightroom via the Windows XP operating system when shooting tethered. This is because the Canon software happens to work about 4–5 times faster in Windows than it does on the Mac. This situation may change with further program or operating system updates, but it is worth keeping an open mind and exploring different combinations of software and operating systems when trying to find the ideal combination for your camera tethered shoot setup (see side panel).

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