Monthly Archives: February 2007

Master & Photoshop Commander

The long-standing Photoshop actions system (which debuted in PS4) makes it pretty easy to record a series of commands, then play them back.  Photoshop scripting (intro’d in PS7) lets developers do much more sophisticated automation, but it needs to be written by hand and is consequently much harder to create.  Thus there’s been a demand for a system that would let users use conditional logic in Photoshop (e.g. processing an image one way if it’s taller than it is wide, and another if it’s wider than it is tall), but without having to learn/write scripting.

To fill this gap, scripter Andrew Hall has created Photoshop Commander, a free add-on designed to put fairly sophisticated automation tools into the hands of non-programmers.  He explains,

Photoshop Commander is a Photoshop Script for CS2 and CS3 that creates powerful programming capability in Photoshop, using simple dialogs that anyone can work with and understand. Photoshop Commander provides a comprehensive easy-to-use menu system that allows non-programmers to create sophisticated workflow automations all without the need to understand a single line of programming code.

The script (which is free and is being released under the Creative Commons license), and a heap of accompanying Flash tutorials can be downloaded at

If you check out the first 10 minutes of the tutorials you will get some idea of what it can do and how it works.

Check it out, and let Andrew know what you think (via the comments section of the download page).

Frosty photography

From chilly Kansas City (via my friend Maria at Hallmark, specifically) comes a link to amazing photos from Lake Geneva in Switzerland, showing cars, boats, and more buried in beautiful, brutal ice.  Background info on the pix is at

Man, this stuff makes me not miss living in Boston.  I returned to Logan airport once to find my old Volvo with six inches of snow coating its side, needing to be clawed off with a speaker cover that had conveniently fallen off the door.  San José, CA, may have all the culture of a beer nut, but the weather sure doesn’t suck.

[Tangentially related Boston/cold thing: On this Europe trip, InDesign PM Chad Siegel entertained us to no end with his rendition of a beer vendor from Fenway Park: "ICE cold beeah heeah! FREEZE ya teeth, take ya TONGUE on a sleigh ride! You’ll wish ya throat was a miiiiiiile loong!"  Of course I had to morph this into a topical cry: "RED hot apps heeah! WORK ya flow, take ya MOUSE on a joy ride!  You’ll wish ya screen was a miiiiiile wide!"]

More great Lightroom resources

As we get close to really, truly shipping Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (cue X-Wing voice: "Stay on tar-get, stay on tar-get…"), lots of good resources are emerging.  Three have popped up in recent days:

  • Mike Johnston of The Online Photographer rounds up new Lightroom titles from Martin Evening, Scott Kelby, Matt Kloskowski, Tim Grey, Mikkel Aaland, and John Beardsworth, with links to buy each online.
  • Matt K. has also created, which he updates frequently with video clips, customer spotlights, and more. (Here’s the RSS feed.)
  • Michael Tapes of has posted a series of free videos.  He writes, "We also offer a higher res DVD-ROM for $10.95 (inc US shipping) with the identical content, but a larger window size and higher quality video, although our streaming video is quite spectacular, if I say so myself!"

I’m sure I’m misssing/forgetting some great resources, so please feel free to add them via the comments (and see previous for more).

Lightroom Podcast #27: Maki Kawakita

Kabuki-influenced fashion photography is on hand in the latest Lightroom podcast. Adobe evangelist George Jardine recently spoke with Maki Kawakita in NYC about her life and work. He writes,

In this podcast, Maki talks about how her background in Japanese dance and theater has inspired the dramatic look of her colorful fashion photography. Maki currently works and lives in New York City. She also shoots assignments and has exhibitions of her artwork in both Europe and Japan.

This “video” podcast includes photographs created by Maki. It can be viewed by downloading it directly into iTunes (if you are accessing it by subscribing via the Music Store), or by copying it into iTunes on either a Mac or a PC (if you’ve downloaded it from my iDisk). Once copied into iTunes, it can be transferred to a Video iPod, and viewed that way as well. When viewing it on an iPod, be sure to access the video from the top-level Video menu (then “Movies” or “Video Podcasts”…. depending upon how you downloaded it), and NOT from the top-level Music menu. If you access it from the Music menu, you will not see all of the photographs.
Finally, it’s possible that only the audio track will be heard on devices other than Apple Video iPods, and the photographs will not be seen.

The podcast is available as an MP3 file via George’s iDisk (under "1215 Podcast – Maki Kawakita"). It’ll also be available via the Lightroom podcasts RSS feed, and by searching for "Lightroom" in iTunes.  You can find an additional overview of Maki’s work on PDN Online. (Something tells me that unlike Hillary Duff & Missy Eliott, we won’t see Gwyneth Paltrow sit for a head-in-a-box portrait.)

Mainly in the Plane

Farewell and adieu to you fair Spanish ladies*.
Farewell and adieu, you ladies of Spain…

You know what’s wonderful about Spain?  This is the kind of thing you see out your bedroom window.  Know what’s less great?  One look is all you get–the rest of the time being booked solid. (If you think I talk a lot here, try 7 hours’ worth yesterday.) You can take the Hyatt out of the boy, but you can’t take the boy out of the Hyatt–literally.

Still & all, it was great to spend a day chatting with & teaching a boatload of authors & trainers from around Europe.  A bit selfishly, I love the fact that Spanish seems to be less widely studied here than English, German, or French.  For once, my poquito of high school Spanish let me avoid feeling like the monolingual ugly American in the room.  In fact, in a jewelry store in Barcelona I observed a German guy awkwardly telling the shopkeeper that he, uh, didn’t speak Spanish.  "Hah hah, my Teutonic amigo," I thought, "We’re in the same barco now, eh?  Más o menos?" And now I’m flying home at last, so you can be done with my little travel anecdotes (well, almost; a few photos are yet to come).

[Apropos of nothing: the flight attendants on Spanair are decked out in rather deviant-looking black leather gloves.  (Spanish gloves of Spanish leather?)   You could be forgiven for thinking you’d wandered into a Eurythmics video.]

*Note: Management reserves the right to substitute a gaggle of pasty software-folk in lieu of said fair ladies.  No warranties expressed or implied.  Vaya con Dios.

Killing 'em softly with Bridge, Lightroom

I take a ton of photos, most of which turn out to be quite mediocre. Until now I’ve been using the Delete key in Bridge to blow away the rejects & move on to the next photo in line. That works well enough, but the move is kind of severe, throwing your photo into the trash. It would be nice if there were a way to "soft delete" images–flagging them for the dead wagon, but not yet moving them to the trash. So, I’m glad to say that both the new version of Bridge (available on Labs) and Lightroom (shipping very shortly) offer methods for doing this:

  • When you hit the Delete key in Bridge CS3, you’ll get the option to mark an image as a reject. If you choose this option, hitting Delete will mark your image with a red "Reject" label. You can then choose to hide (or show only) the rejects via the new Filter panel. Here’s a screenshot of both. You can remove the rejectedness of an image by marking it No Rating (via the Label menu, or via Cmd-0/Ctrl-0).
  • Lightroom lets you reject an image by hitting X while in the Library module.  To reject it and move to the next in line, hit Shift-X.  (The same convention works for setting a Pick–hit P and Shift-P.)  And from the bottom of the Library window you can click the flag icons to hide the rejects, so that they disappear when you flag them as such.  Hitting Cmd-Delete/Ctrl-Delete will then offer to remove the files from the Lightoom database, or to move them to the trash.  Note: I don’t know how much of this stuff is wired up in Beta 4 of Lightroom, but it’ll be working as described in v1.0.

Help improve Dreamweaver, Flash -> Win fame, glory

Okay, maybe not fame, but how about $1000 or a copy of Creative Suite 3?  Those are the prizes (5 of ’em) being raffled to folks who help Adobe improve our Web tools by the Adobe user research team.  They’re using a technology called ClickStream (more about them & their privacy policy) that records how often menu items, tools, etc. are used in each application, from which we can gain insights into what’s important & should be improved.  If you’re interested, please see the note below from researcher Sharma Hendel.  Cash and software aside, I think it’s a great (and pretty painless) way to help improve the tools that thousands of people use every day. [UPDATE: Sorry, I didn’t notice that participation is limited to US residents. Lame, but I guess doing business across borders is harder than it should be. –J.]

I’m a user experience researcher with the Flash & Dreamweaver teams and I’m looking for Flash and Dreamweaver users to help us out with a massive project.  If you’re a regular Flash or Dreamweaver user and would like to help out, please check out the information below. 

This is a product improvement study with folks who use Flash or Dreamweaver several times per week. The project entails downloading and installing a small program that anonymously collects information about the features you use in Adobe products and other applications. All eligible participants will be entered in a prize drawing either $1000 or one of 5 copies of Creative Suite 3 (to be released later this year).
If you are interested, please take this survey to determine eligibility.  Then download the ClickSight™ software – a program developed for Adobe by Clickstream Technologies. (Mac Users: Currently, ClickSight runs only on Windows PCs.  We will be conducting a Mac-based study later this year.  If you are a Mac user and would like to be involved, please email

Thanks!  You are helping make our Web applications even better!

Sharma Hendel (shendel at adobe dot com)
User Experience Team

Why Adobe doesn't touch proprietary raw files

Touching the bits of raw image formats that aren’t publicly documented well (or at all) seems like a bad idea, bound to end in tears. Microsoft is advising customers not to edit metadata using Vista, saying,

Microsoft has received reports of compatibility issues with Nikon NEF files after installing version 1.0 of Nikon’s raw codec posted in January. Tagging the raw files through Windows Vista or the Microsoft Photo Info tool after the codec is installed appears to cause these files to become unreadable in other applications, such as Adobe Photoshop. [Via]

I’m sure the problem will get sorted out soon enough, but it does illustrate why Camera Raw and Lightroom insist on using sidecar data files for raw formats other than DNG. It’s less convenient, but we’ve seen far too many conflicts arise from touching metadata in these other formats. DNG was designed with flexible internal storage of metadata in mind, and now Lightroom and Bridge offer conversion to DNG as part of their photo-import processes. (For what it’s worth, on my MacBook Pro, converting an 8MP CR2 file to DNG takes roughly 1-1.5 seconds–not a bad price for portability & reduced file size.)

Printing on water & more

  • The Jeep Waterfall is a totally fantastic, “3,000 valve, 20-pump contraption” that essentially prints images onto falling water–much as an inkjet would onto moving paper. The eye-popping video is well worth a watch.
  • Taking a similar concept in a horizontal direction, the AMOEBA device uses wave generators to print letter & pictures on water. Each one is visible for just a moment, and a new one can be shown every 3 seconds. There’s a brief video of the device in action, but I find the still image is more impressive. [Aside: I think my life would be greatly enriched by a background audio track of breathless Japanese narration.]
  • If that $10k/gallon inkjet business has gotten you down, you might like hearing about the ZINK inkless printing system. It promises a zero-ink printing process by embedding dye crystals in the paper itself. [Via the Elements team]
  • ToughPrint promises waterproof inkjet paper, suitable for making, say, a map, then taking it hiking in the rainforest (as one does). [Via]

For more printing goodness, see previous entries.