Monthly Archives: November 2008

Labels between Bridge & Lightroom

Reader John Schwaller asked a good question today: Why is it that if you assign a color label to an image in Lightroom, then update the file’s metadata on disk (Cmd-S/Ctrl-S), the label appears white in Bridge instead of in the expected color?


The answer lies in the fact that Bridge lets you customize the text string associated with labels (screenshot).  This makes it possible to tag images quickly with custom, searchable phrases (e.g. "Urgent," "Needs client review," etc.) using just a keystroke.  Think of it as a specialized, powerful form of keywording.


When you apply a label, you’re not, however, storing the color in the file metadata; rather, you’re just assigning the text that’s specified for that label.  If you’ve associated the green label with "Client approved," Bridge will display all files with the label "Client approved" as green.  If you then use Bridge preferences to change green to mean "Good to go," however, Bridge will show files labeled "Client approved" as having a white label.  This indicates that the label on the files doesn’t correspond to any of your custom labels.


Lightroom doesn’t offer the ability to customize the text associated with color labels*.  When it writes a label to a file, the text corresponds to the color ("Red," "Green," etc.).  By default Bridge uses different strings for the colored labels (red = "Select," green = "Approved," etc.).  So, assigning a red label in Lightroom will produce a while label in Bridge–kind of bizarre, if logical in its own way.


Short story: To make the labels you assign in Lightroom show up in the same colors in Bridge, go into Bridge preferences, choose Labels, and then change the text string for each to be simply the color ("Red" for red, "Green" for green, and so on).


The Bridge mechanism is powerful and flexible, but it’s always caused some amount of confusion.  Maybe we can refine it in the future (e.g. storing both the color name & the assigned text string in metadata, then containing to display the color separately even if the label doesn’t match & therefore has to show up as white).

* Update: Thanks to Peter Krogh for pointing you that one can indeed modify the values of labels in Lightroom, by choosing Metadata->Color Label Set->Edit. The dialog even contains a note about Bridge compatibility (screenshot).

Details on Camera Raw 5.2 enhancements

Photographer & author Shangara Singh points out some helpful links to Adobe documentation on the new features in Camera Raw 5.2:



Side note: I love that it’s now possible to add one’s own notes to help entries. The Targeted Adjustment Tool entry refers repeatedly to the “TAT Tool,” which is as annoying as saying “SAT test” or “PIN number.” I’ve added a comment correcting the terminology. Pedants rejoice. 😉

Saturday Photos

  • Mugs:
    • Martin Schoeller’s Close Up is “A magnetic succession of stripped-down faces, straightforward portraits of the very famous and absolutely unknown.”
    • Helen Marshall’s Big Picture (talk about truth in advertising) is comprised of 112, 896 photos of people’s faces. [Via]
  • Isolation:
    • Kim Høltermand creates spare, bleak, often dreamlike compositions from sometimes banal subject matter. [Via]
    • In a somewhat similar vein, Andy Taylor Smith captures the sculptural quality of overpasses and other large structures. (The Veer gallery seems to be acting up, but you can also see images on Andy’s own site.) [Via]
  • Vanity Fair has posted a collection of the 25 Best News Photos. (Fair warning: Some are tough to see.) [Via]

Tilt-shift flava

"I seemingly will never tire of this gimmick," writes Jason Kottke.  No, but it’s worth a try. 🙂


More Configurator info, ideas

The Configurator team has put together a rather comprehensive user guide that features screenshots and guidance on using the application.  The app is designed to be very straightforward to use, but the guide can help answer questions as you start using Configurator more intensively.  The team has also provided a list of known issues–rough edges & their workarounds.


Don’t be shy about letting us know how you’d like to see the tool evolve.  We’d like to make it both broader (supporting more Suite apps) and deeper (offering richer functionality and more refinements).  A few ideas we’re kicking around:


  • Support containers (sub-tabs, accordions, etc.) that would make it easy to provide more content within a single panel
  • Offer better localization/auto-layout (so that a tab could be switched from English to German to Japanese on the fly; this is essential if we’re to use Configurator to create content that ships in the box)
  • Include more widgets that can be dragged in (e.g. a foreground/background color indicator/selector like the one at the bottom of the PS toolbar)

Camera Raw 5.2 packs enhancements, compatibility

The newest rev of Camera Raw for Photoshop CS4 (Mac|Win) adds some much-requested improvements


  • Targeted Adjustment Tool (TAT) for on-image adjustments (i.e. click and drag on a certain color or tonal range to adjust the corresponding values)
  • Output sharpening for print or screen output
  • "Snapshots" for saving multiple sets of settings per file
  • Camera Profiles for enhanced raw file interpretation now available in the Calibration panel


Newly supported camera models:

  • Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Canon PowerShot G10
  • Panasonic DMC-G1
  • Panasonic DMC-FX150
  • Panasonic DMC-FZ28
  • Panasonic DMC-LX3
  • Leica D-LUX 4

Lightroom/Camera Raw PM Tom Hogarty provides additional details about the Panasonic/Leica support on the Lightroom Journal blog.  I imagine other Camera Raw/photography-oriented sites and blogs will offer more in-depth coverage of the TAT and other functional improvements soon.

Monday Type: Star Wars, light paintings, & more

Lego together Pixel Bender filters

Like the idea of creating ultra-fast image filters for Photoshop, Flash, and After Effects, but prefer visual authoring to coding/math?  Check out Conduit for Pixel Bender, a node-based editing tool for creating and tweaking PB files (see screenshot).  I’ve taken it for a spin, and even a math-stooge like me can snap together some interesting stuff.


Conduit for PB is presently in beta testing & can be pre-ordered for €50.  It exports PBJ files for use in Flash Player 10 but doesn’t yet generate PBK files or use in Photoshop.  Hopefully that support will appear shortly.  Meanwhile you can test drive Conduit Live, the free version of the authoring tool, snapping together filters to run on low-res image or video.


See also the free Pixel Bender Toolkit for writing & exporting PB files. [Via]

New Illustrations: Mad Men to Hot Rocks

Dept. of Mad Chops:

Illustrated misfortune:


  • The pixel masters at eBoy featured yours truly among a field of ‘Dobe peeps. Thanks, guys! (Incidentally, this illustration plays ridiculously well with content-aware scaling in PSCS4.)
  • At the recent party to celebrate shipping CS4, Photoshop engineer Geoff Scott took a cool shot of me that I turned into a quasi-Hot Rocks-style illustration via the new PS Pixel Bender plug-in. (I used subblue’s Droste Effect filter kernel–a free download.)


Never underestimate the power of Bluetooth-enabled, motion-sensing, Adobe-flavored nerdery. 🙂


Configurator is live!

I’m extremely happy to say that Adobe Configurator 1.0 is now available for download from Adobe Labs.  Configurator is a simple drag-and-drop tool for creating panels that extend Photoshop CS4.  It’s an important step in the process of making the Photoshop UI much more flexible–much better able to be "everything you need, nothing you don’t."


For more info about Configurator, please see my previous post and video demo.  In this post’s extended entry I’ve shared some additional odds & ends (read on).

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Installer issue mini-update

On Thursday I said that I’d gather information from the Adobe installer team and post it here when it’s ready.  On Friday and over the weekend, some senior Adobe folks involved in the installer effort started reaching out to Pierre (whose blog post occasioned the need for a response) and John C. Welch to talk through the details.


I appreciate that people are eager for more info, but it seemed only wise/courteous to try to learn more before posting a reply.  The timing just now is tough: many of us have been at Adobe MAX from 7AM-10PM since Sunday, so communication is taking a little longer than usual.  When I’ve had more time to pull together a proper post, I’ll share it here.  (In the meantime, I’d love not to get crucified for trying to do the right thing.)




Pixel Bender arrives in Photoshop

I’m delighted to announce that the Pixel Bender Gallery plug-in for Photoshop CS4 is now available for download from Adobe Labs.  Key points:


  • It runs filters really, really fast on your graphics card (GPU)
  • The plug-in is not one filter, but rather a harness into which you can drop Pixel Bender files (.PBK and .PBG)
  • Pixel Bender also runs cross-platform in After Effects CS4 & Flash Player 10
  • The filters people write for Flash will also work in Photoshop
  • We should therefore see an explosion in the number of new Photoshop filters becoming available


I recorded a quick (1 minute) demo movie of the plug-in in action.  The package includes great sample filters from developers Joa Ebert, Petri Leskinen, Frank Reitberger, Jerry Lin, and Allen Chou (thanks again, guys), and you can grab new ones from the Adobe Exchange & other developer blogs.  Simply drop the tiny PBK text files into the "Pixel Bender Files" folder that’s created in your Photoshop CS4 folder, open the filter (Filters->Pixel Bender->Pixel Bender Gallery), and go to town.


Miscellaneous notes:


  • The Pixel Bender plug-in has the same GPU requirements as Photoshop CS4.  The more memory on your card, the larger the images you can process with it.
  • This being a Labs release, it’s a little less polished & a little more utilitarian than what you’d expect from a filter that’s installed by default.  (For example, you can’t click onto the filter preview to manipulate parameters directly.)  Even so, we expect it to work well.
  • A couple of commenters have given me grief about Photoshop’s old-school Radial Blur & Mosaic filters (the former for not having a live preview, the latter for not offering independent height/width controls).  Both requests are addressed by filters included in this download.  (The radial blur option does spin only, but you can grab Ryan Phelan’s Zoom Blur sample to do zooming.)
  • Adobe has released various PB developer tools as well.  Engineering manager Kevin Goldsmith provides details on his blog.


Fundamentally, Pixel Bender demonstrates that Adobe’s significant architectural investments are delivering a faster, more interactive, much more easily extensible Photoshop & Creative Suite, now and in the future.



Tokidoki + Free MAX Access

I just got a quick heads-up from the Illustrator team:


Special Offer — Free Pass to Adobe MAX on 11/17 for tokidoki


Come see renowned illustrator Simone Legno from tokidoki at Adobe MAX in San Francisco Monday, 11/17


Space is limited to the first 200 who sign up. Register now at the website below and use the following promo code: CRC998


Registration for Legno’s session will open at 4:00 pm on Monday, November 17. Registration is located at Moscone West, Level 1, 800 Howard Street, San Francisco, CA


Sounds great, and I hope to sneak into the session myself.

[Via Terry Hemphill]

Illustrated Miscellany: Obama, the Joker, & molten wax

History & politics:

Packaging & Objects:

  • Veerle showcases some beautiful packaging.
  • Go Media sells PSD templates that can help you drop artwork onto various wrinkly shirts.
  • Virgil O. Stamps will print on just about any crazy material–duct tape, shredded targets, National Geographic pages, etc. [Via]

Cool Devices:

  • The notional Virtuo virtual palette “uses sensors and light to mix digital colour and apply it to a screen.” [Via Jerry Harris]
  • Man, I can’t wait for our son to get old enough to rock out with the Crayola Glow Station. (My mom used to let me paint with crayons using paper on a hot plate. Ah, the ’70s: a simpler, less safety-conscious time. ;-))

CS4 & solid-state drives (SSDs)

There’s an misleading line in the system requirements listed for Photoshop CS4 and other Adobe CS4 products: contrary to the statement that CS4 “cannot install on… flash-based storage devices,” the apps install and run perfectly well on solid-state drives (SSDs), such as those available in the MacBook Air and the new Sony VAIO.


I’m told that the line was written to let customers know that they can’t install on removable flash-based media such as Compact Flash cards.  (Yes, people try weird things, then get mad when those things don’t work.)


On a related note, I expect to get some questions about performance impact of using SSDs together with Photoshop.  I don’t have any numbers or recommendations to share at the moment, though our performance testing lead has been testing a high-end Fusion-IO drive (160GB,
~$7200 retail).

Science Friday: From Mexican caves to the Sun

MAX Awards People's Choice voting now open

The Adobe MAX Awards Finalist Gallery is now live and People’s Choice voting is open.  You can check out the finalists’ submissions and then click to vote.  Adobe’s Lisa Hanna writes,


The voting will close on November 18th at 12:00 noon PST. The People’s Choice winner will be announced that evening at the Sneak Peak and MAX Award Ceremony at MAX.  There is no limit to voting and it is open globally.


If you are attending MAX, the Finalists will be displaying their award submissions Monday evening, Nov. 17th from 6:30 – 8:30 pm in the Community Pavilion, Moscone West Level 1. Please drop by and introduce yourself.

All PSCS4 menu items & their scripts

Descend with me, won’t you, into the deepest nerd-mines…


In order to support Configurator, we needed to create a rather gigantic spreadsheet ("The Big List") that included the text string for nearly every menu item in Photoshop, along with the JavaScript (ExtendScript) equivalent of each.  We also filled in descriptions for many of the items, and Configurator uses these when displaying tooltips. 

In case this stuff is useful to you (e.g. you’re a scripter and just want to know the brute-force way to execute some menu item), I’ve posted the XLS and CSV flavors of the list for download.  (I say "brute force" because these strings were generated by the Scripting Listener plug-in & in many cases aren’t as elegant as what one could write by hand.)

Monday Photography: Super cellphone cams & more

Kim Jong 'Shop

The popular & long-running News of the Weird eventually has to retire stories (e.g. ill-informed guys playing Russian Roulette with a semi-automatic pistol) that have repeated themselves out of weirdness.  I’m starting to get that feeling about shady government attempts to digitally manipulate reality.


Recently we had the Chinese antelope, followed by Iranian missiles. Now, apparently, the North Korean news agency has engaged in "communist photoshopaganda"–making ailing leader Kim Jong-il appear fit enough to stand with his troops. 

When the Dear Leader does kick the can (if he hasn’t already), maybe the propagandists will engage in a whole "Weekend at Kim’s" series, propping up his remains in all kinds of fun contexts. (He’s already got the Elvis specs & a slammin’ physique, so the possibilities seem endless.) [Via Jerry Harris & many others]

New Lightroom tools & presets

  • The Photography Show blog has pulled together a huge list of free presets for LR. [Via]
  • Developer Jeffrey Friedl has created a geotagging plug-in for Lightroom. According to Stephen Shankland, the plug-in “reads a GPS unit’s track log, then deduces a photo’s location based on the time it was taken. Although that’s the same basic mechanism many other geotagging programs employ, Friedl’s plug-in brings some welcome flexibility to the process by moving the process within Lightroom.”
  • Photodex has created The ProShow Plug-in for Lightroom, a free tool for composing rich slideshows within LR, meant for use with the company’s commercial slideshow software.

A bit more metadata geekery

  • The File Info interface in Photoshop, Bridge, and the other CS4 products can be extended by creating panels using Adobe Flex.  Not everyone uses Flex or aspires to learn ActionScript, however.  Fortunately photographer John Beardsworth has found it fairly simple to migrate CS3-style panels to the CS4 architecture using a simple text editor.  He shares some tips on his blog.
  • Adobe metadata PM Gunar Penikis documents the ins & outs of importing and exporting metadata in CS4.  If you’re using metadata templates, especially in Bridge, please note how the various options intersect with Camera Raw settings.  Short tip: to avoid possible conflicts, the best practice is to create templates from a blank file.
  • Gunar also points out the updated XMP SDKs & XMP Toolkit now posted on the Adobe XMP Developer Center.

Photo safari in SF on Saturday

Photojojo is a great photo blog, full of interesting bits (e.g. today’s bit on taking ghostly pictures with your scanner).  As it happens, they’re hosting a photo safari this Saturday in San Francisco:


(1) You bring a camera (it doesn’t matter what kind) and some friends (2) There’s a cool place or event or a tour for you to take pictures (3) We go to a bar and you can put your photos in a slideshow to win prizes from us or sponsors. (4) You are happy and fulfilled.  Cost: Free.


Adobe is sponsoring the event, and the photo whose work the group votes best will win some groovy software.  Sounds like a fun way to spend a Saturday.

Post-election bits

I’m finding it hard to get back into the blogging game after such a* historic election.  Doesn’t blogging about megapixels and keyboard shortcuts just seem kind of… trite?


In an effort to spool back up, here are some interesting visual bits I’ve encountered:


  • Oh yeah!: "The Final Endgame Go Time Alpha Action Lift-off Decide-icidal Hungry Man’s Extreme Raw Power Ultimate Voteslam Smackdown ’08 No Mercy: Judgement Day ’08.That’s what I’m talkin’ about.  Peep The Daily Show’s ode to/mockery of over-the-top motion graphics.
  • Jason Kottke has aggregated a huge list of election maps from around the world, from whiteboards to the Onion.  I love the way various maps, including the one on the NY Times site, let you zoom into states to see a county-by-county patchwork of voting.  Also check out the way the NYT map features "county bubbles" and a voting trend comparison slider.
  • Mark Newman’s maps offer insight into voting patterns by geography and population. [Via]
  • The Guardian features a gallery of newspaper front pages from around the world. [Via]
  • In The Living Room Candidate, the Museum of the Moving Image features TV ads from US presidential races, 1952-2008.
  • Typography:
    • Channeling campaign fatigue into type, This [Farging] Election aggregates many of the year’s memorable phrases into a single column.
    • Obama + dingbats = ObamaBats, courtesy of Jeff Domke. [Via]


* Not "an".  Hah; I knew it.  We’re not Cockney, for crying out loud.

Pro Photographers Vote Lightroom!

In the Red-Green-Blue state of professional digital photography, voters are going for Adobe Lightroom in a very big way.


A year ago I shared some market research from InfoTrends that compared Lightroom usage among North American pros to that of Apple Aperture.  This year InfoTrends asked the same questions, and here’s what they found photographers to be using:


  2007 2008
Photoshop Camera Raw plug-in 66.5% 62.2%



Aperture 5.5% 7.5%
On the Mac platform only    
Lightroom 26.6% 40.4%
Aperture 14.3% 14.6%


  • We’re delighted to see that Lightroom has increased its market share among pros by 50% on both Mac and Windows.
  • Aperture’s overall number is up due to a greater percentage of respondents running Macs this year.  On the Mac, however, its market share is essentially unchanged.
  • The survey was fielded in June and July 2008, after the launch of Aperture 2 but before Lightroom 2 was released.
  • Overall Photoshop usage remains over 90% in this market.  Use of Camera Raw specifically has dipped a bit, which is to be expected as more pros embrace Lightroom.  Even so, the numbers indicate that many people continue to use both paths depending on circumstances (e.g. opening a one-off image vs. browsing a whole shoot).  That’s true in my work, and I find the compatibility of settings between LR & ACR invaluable.
  • Lightroom PM Tom Hogarty has posted a few additional details about the survey on the Lightroom Journal blog.


As always the Lightroom & Photoshop teams are grateful to the photography community for all their support, and we look forward to bringing the Lightroom mojo to more photographers in the years ahead.

[Update: In case it was unclear, I’ll note that these percentages are not mutually exclusive. A photographer could choose more than one tool when responding. –J.]

You Suck at Photoshop: Season finale

The 3 Webbie Award-winning series You Suck At Photoshop concludes its second season (and 20th episode!) with this season finale.  Perhaps needless to say, things do not end well for Donnie.


Behind the scenes, wedding photographer/blogger David Ziser has posted a podcast inteview with series creator Troy Hitch (for whom things seem to be going much better; YSAP boasts 13 million views and climbing).

MAX snax

The Adobe MAX show (Nov. 16-19th in San Francisco) is shaping up to be a whopper, set to break previous attendance records.  There’s still time to register (deadline is the 14th), and I hope to see you there.  (I’ll be presenting Photoshop & Bridge CS4 on Wednesday the 19th at 2pm.)


If user experience/interface is your thing, be sure to check out the Adobe XD (Experience Design) segments.  They’ve posted a list on INSPIRE, their new publication.

CS4: What's in it for Photographers?

I thought photographers might like to have a single, consolidated list of all the enhancements in Photoshop CS4 & Bridge CS4 that can help improve their productivity.  Photographer/author/fellow Photoshop PM Bryan O’Neil Hughes kindly stepped up with a guest blog entry, below.  It’s a long list, so I’ve put it into this post’s extended entry.  Read on for the good 411…  –J.
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