Lesson A: From Bridge to ACR – Adobe Photoshop

Lesson A: From Bridge to ACR

Adobe Bridge can be used to download images from an attached camera (or camera card reader) and to navigate your computer’s file system. We’ll be doing the latter.

  • To use Bridge, you need to have Bridge! If you haven’t already, use the Creative Cloud app to install and launch it.
  • There are preferences you may want to adjust, especially for the user interface. On a Mac, choose Adobe Bridge 2020 > Preferences…; on Windows, choose Edit > Preferences…; or press -K/Ctrl-K. Click on Interface in the column on the left, and choose your desired Color Theme (I chose the lightest) and Text Size (I chose the largest).
  • To easily get to your course files, locate the downloaded course files folder in your operating system, then drag it into the Favorites panel and select it there. You’ll see the folders it contains in the Content panel.
  • Double-click the “05 ACR and friends” folder to see its contents. Highlight one of those image thumbnails.

When an image is highlighted, you can choose to view its Preview in the upper-right corner, its Metadata in the lower right, and its location in your computer’s file system along the top in the Path Bar. If one of these panels should be hidden, you can choose it in the Window menu. In the Metadata panel, you can enter keywords, contact info, and copyright info, and you can view the exposure and other image data that your camera provides.

On the thumbnails of some of the raw images (in this case, DNG files), you’ll see an “adjusted” icon showing that those images have been edited in Adobe Camera Raw. The first set of images all begin with “ACR” and haven’t yet been adjusted. That’s what we’re going to do.

Processing Images with ACR

In ACR we can open multiple images at once. We can edit all those open images simultaneously, or work through them individually in the ACR interface, just as in Lightroom. Although ACR is an application on our computers, it can’t run unattended by either Bridge or Photoshop. It requires a “host” application.

Double-clicking images in Bridge pushes them off to Photoshop, which will launch and host ACR to edit them. Highlighting them and then using the shortcut -R/Ctrl-R (for “Raw”) launches ACR immediately with Bridge hosting it. I’ll do the latter when I’ve got Photoshop doing other things. We’ll do it for the novelty.

  • Select all nine “ACR” images by clicking the first one then shift-clicking the last.
  • Use the shortcut -R/Ctrl-R. The ACR interface appears with a Filmstrip panel on its left side containing those nine images.

Along the top are numerous tools; on the right are icons to access different panels with lots of sliders; and there are a few buttons along the bottom too. All this is discussed in the “Editing Raw Files” chapter of the Compendium. Be aware that Adobe has a funny way of adding, renaming, or moving these once in a while.

There is exactly one adjustment we can, and indeed should, perform to all of these images at once. It’s a correction for the optics used for these images: a lens correction.

  • Access the Lens Corrections panel by clicking its odd little tab on the right. I congratulate you if you recognized that as the cross section of a camera lens.
  • Use the shortcut -A/Ctrl-A to select all the images in the Film Strip panel.
  • In the Lens Corrections panel, check the boxes for both Remove Chromatic Aberration and Enable Profile Corrections.

Chromatic aberration is the inability to sharply focus sharp edges from the images’ perimeters without fringing. You just fixed that. The optics used for each shot, embedded in its metadata, is used to apply a correction made at Adobe just for that lens. Every lens has some distortion and usually some vignetting (darkening around the edges). You just fixed that too. Imagine if you had hundreds of images selected right now. They’d all be thanking you.

Now we have to be a little more selective about the images we’re editing and what we do.

  • In the Filmstrip panel, click once on the first image (“ACR-1.dng”) and return to the Basic panel (all the way to the left of the Lens Corrections icon).
Basic Adjustments

For this and the following steps, you may want to keep the “Editing Raw Files” chapter of the Compendium bookmarked.

  • At the top of the ACR interface, activate the White Balance tool (the first eyedropper). This tells the application what color the light was. Click on something that should be neutral (gray), like one of those stones. ACR made it so by adjusting color throughout the image.
  • Click on the log with that tool, shamelessly lying to ACR that it should be neutral. Since it’s so warm, the image becomes much cooler in an attempt to make that log gray. You better click on a stone again.
  • Experiment with the Tone controls in the Basic panel (Exposure, Contrast, etc.). By working your way from the top down, you will more surgically affect the light in the image.
  • When you have pleasing contrast overall, mess with the Texture and Clarity sliders. These affect local contrast. Texture is smarter about not adding too much in skin tones.
  • Dehaze won’t do much good in this image, as there is no haze, but you should try it anyway. It’s the software’s version of a polarizing filter.
  • The last two sliders are rather similar to Photoshop’s Vibrance adjustment. As with that, the Vibrance slider is the safer one.

Let’s edit several images that need some of the same adjustments.

  • Click on “ACR-3,” then shift-click on “ACR-5.” Now three images are targeted, though only the first is shown in the main window. Click in various areas with the White Balance tool and keep an eye on the three thumbnails. They all respond. That’s good—the light was the same for all three.
  • Try different adjustments and see if all three images benefit. If not, click on just one and give it special attention.

Here’s the best part. Everything you’ve done is just metadata. Those images aren’t even made out of pixels. They’re raw data and you’re just interpreting it. That means if you return to ACR with those images later, you can reinterpret the raw data any way you like. If this isn’t making sense, you haven’t read the “Editing Raw Files” chapter of the Compendium. Maybe it’s time.

Workflow Options
  • At the bottom of the ACR interface is a line of underlined text. Click it to edit the Workflow Options for ACR.
  • The only item really worth looking at is the bottom checkbox: Open in Photoshop as Smart Objects. Check it and click OK.

If you want to go beyond the nondestructive edits you can do here, you can embed a copy of the raw data in a Smart Object to open in Photoshop so you can do everything this book covers and more.

  • Click Done in ACR, then watch the thumbnails in Bridge update. They’ll also get the “adjusted” icon in their corners.