Publishers of technology books, eBooks, and videos for creative people

Home > Articles > Design > Adobe Creative Suite

Raw System Overview: Camera Raw, Bridge, and Photoshop

  • Print
  • + Share This
Looking for a 30,000-foot overview of the whole digital raw system? You've found it. Author Bruce Fraser takes you through the basics of the raw workflow in this excellent introduction to Camera Raw, Bridge, and Photoshop.
This chapter is from the book

This chapter provides a 30,000-foot overview of the whole digital raw system. I'll discuss the individual components in much more detail in subsequent chapters, but before delving into the minutiae (and there are a lot of details), it's helpful to have some idea of what the components do, and how they interrelate.

Camera Raw is an amazing piece of technology, but it's only one component of a powerful system that helps you do everything from making your initial selects from a shoot, to adding copyright and keywording metadata, to producing final files for delivery. One of the components of this system is, of course, Photoshop itself.

Photoshop is truly one of the deepest applications available on any platform, and has probably had more words written about it than just about any other application in existence. It's also seductive. One of my goals in writing this book is to wean photographers from doing everything in Photoshop—if you just treat Camera Raw as a quick way to get raw images into Photoshop for correction, you're making extra work for yourself, and probably not getting everything you can from your raw captures.

For the purposes of this book, Photoshop is simply a tool for making localized corrections, hosting automated processes, and writing images out to different file formats. My friend and colleague Jeff Schewe remarked jokingly during the beta period of Photoshop CS2 that Photoshop had become a plug-in for Camera Raw rather than vice versa, to which I can only add that rarely was a truer word spoken in jest.

One of the biggest challenges the digital raw shooter faces is to avoid drowning in data. Raw captures typically create smaller files than film scans, but we have to deal with so many more raw captures than we did film scans that spending hours correcting an individual image in Photoshop has to become the exception rather than the rule if we want to make a living, or even have a life. So in this short chapter, I'll lay out the basics of the raw workflow.

Adobe Bridge

Adobe Bridge is a brand-new application that comes bundled with every copy of Photoshop CS2. It replaces the File Browser that was introduced in Photoshop 7. Bridge lies at the center of the entire Adobe Creative Suite—it can manage all sorts of file types besides Camera Raw files and images created by Photoshop, including InDesign and Illustrator files and the ever-ubiquitous PDF format, but since this is a book about digital raw capture, I'll focus on its use with digital raw files.

The Virtual Light Table

One of the key roles that Bridge plays is as a virtual light table. As soon as you point Bridge at a new folder of raw images, Camera Raw goes to work behind the scenes, generating thumbnails and large-size previews using its default settings. As a virtual light table, Bridge lets you view, sort, rank, and make selects from your raw images.

Bridge is highly configurable for different purposes. The thumbnails and previews are resizable, so you can see anything from tiny thumbnails to previews that are large enough to let you decide whether or not an image is a keeper. As with a physical light table, you can sequence and sort images by dragging them into position, but unlike the physical light table, Bridge can find and sort images based on all sorts of metadata criteria, such as the time shot, focal length, shutter speed, aperture setting, or any combination of the aforementioned. You can apply ratings or labels to images to further facilitate sorting and selecting, and you can use Bridge as the source for automated processing into Photoshop by selecting the thumbnails of the images you want to process. Figure 3-1 shows some of the many ways you can configure Bridge for different tasks. I'll discuss Bridge in much greater detail in Chapter 6, Adobe Bridge.

03fig01.jpg

Figure 3-1 Bridge configurations

Managing Metadata

Metadata literally means "data about data." One of the useful aspects of shooting digital rather than film is that your images contain a wealth of metadata right out of the camera—the shutter speed, aperture, ISO speed, focal length, and other technical metadata are embedded right in the image. But you can and should supplement the camera-generated metadata with custom metadata of your own—copyright and rights-management notices, keywords, and anything else that will make your life easier and add value to your images.

Moreover, the time and place to add custom metadata is as soon after loading your raw captures into Bridge as possible, for two reasons:

  • Metadata added to raw files gets carried through to any image produced from that raw file, so if you enter key metadata such as copyright notices on your raw files, all your converted PSDs, TIFFs, and JPEGs will already have that metadata entered.
  • Whereas Photoshop's File Info command lets you edit metadata on one image at a time, Bridge lets you edit metadata for multiple images in a single operation.

If you're new to metadata, consider that as your collection of digital imagery grows, the role of metadata becomes ever-more vital in letting you and your clients find your images. I faked Figure 3-2 to make a point—don't try to cache a folder containing 6,798,348 images on today's hardware! But if it seems fanciful, consider the plight of an editorial shooter who shoots 1,000 images a day, three days a week, 48 weeks a year, over a 40-year career….

03fig02.jpg

Figure 3-2 The need for metadata

If you shoot even a tenth of this number of images, you will at some future date have a major challenge on your hands if you don't start planning for that future date now, and taking advantage of the power of metadata to help you manage your image collection. I'll discuss metadata in much greater detail in Chapter 8, Mastering Metadata.

Hosting Camera Raw

As a standalone application, Bridge can do things that the old File Browser could not, and one of those things is to act as a host for the Camera Raw plug-in. Hence, when you open raw images in Camera Raw, you have the choice of opening them in Camera Raw hosted by Bridge, or Camera Raw hosted by Photoshop.

Camera Raw edits are saved as metadata—the raw files themselves are read-only so editing in Camera Raw never changes the raw file itself. What you're doing when you edit in Camera Raw is to set the parameters for the conversion from the raw file to an RGB image. So you can use Camera Raw hosted by Bridge to edit raw images—to set conversion parameters—without actually performing the conversions. Then when you open the images in Photoshop, Camera Raw creates an RGB version of the image using the conversion parameters you set in Camera Raw hosted by Bridge.

Of course, if your immediate goal is to open the file in Photoshop, you can host Camera Raw in Photoshop instead, and either open raw images directly into Photoshop, bypassing the Camera Raw dialog box (but not Camera Raw itself, which still carries out the conversion), or you can host the Camera Raw dialog box in Photoshop when it makes more sense to do so. I'll discuss these workflow decisions in detail in Chapter 7, It's All About the Workflow.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

Peachpit Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from Peachpit and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about Peachpit products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information


To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites; develop new products and services; conduct educational research; and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email ask@peachpit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by Adobe Press. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.peachpit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020