By Kevin Slimp
Newspaper consultant

I have to admit: I’m as much to blame as anyone.

Honestly, I figured everyone was already using Adobe Bridge, so I’ve not put much effort into teaching Bridge tools at workshops and classes over the past few years.

Longtime photo editors remember the Browser from versions of Photoshop prior to CS2. Since then, Bridge has been included in all Creative Suite/Cloud packages and also with stand-alone Adobe Photoshop.

So why am I bringing up Bridge now?

After recent trips to train small and large newspapers in several states, I noticed that most designers and photo editors rarely, if ever, use Bridge.

As a result, I added a Bridge class in a daylong training session for a large paper in California in September, and the response was pretty surprising. Almost everything I taught was new to everyone in the group.

So what is Adobe Bridge?

It’s s a digital asset management application. It keeps track of your files, whether they are photos, PDFs or Word docs and makes them easy to find and display intuitively.

The most common use for Bridge is simply finding files. Click on a folder or drive and see thumbnails of all the files in that location.

I’ve found the Bridge most useful for browsing pictures on a camera card and quickly deciding which to keep and which to discard.

Not only can you search files by name, users can find files using metadata.

Metadata is a set of standardized information about a file, including author, resolution, color space, copyright, and keywords applied to it.

For example, most digital cameras attach some basic information to an image file, such as height, width, file format and time the image was taken. These are all included in the metadata.

When I visited with Jean Matua, a Minnesota publisher, three years ago, she asked how we could create a photo archive that would enable her staff to easily pull up any image from the past.

We did that using Adobe Bridge. By adding keywords into the metadata of each image, a process that takes just a moment, the pics can be found in a matter of seconds with a simple search.

I’ve used a variety of Bridge tools since Photoshop added the Browser way back in 2002. My favorite has been the “Batch Rename” feature, which allows me to take all – or any selected – images on a camera card and move or copy them to a new location with the name of my choice. This is incredibly valuable, as it allows me to take all 200 of those photos taken at the high school game and place them in a designated folder with the names “2014Football-001,” “2014Football-002,” etc.

The Image Processor is another valuable tool in Bridge. With it, I can select a folder full of images and convert them to JPG, TIF or PSD format with the click of a button.

Even better, the Image Processor allows me to run Photoshop Actions on all images in a folder at once, without leaving Bridge.

I’d almost forgotten how easy it is to create web gal­leries using Bridge. By simply selecting a folder or group of images, then clicking a few buttons, I have a com­plete gallery of images, in whatever format I choose, ready to upload to an FTP site.

This means a user can literally create a Web page catalog of hundreds of photos, which can be clicked and enlarged on the screen, in a matter of seconds.

There’s more to Bridge. Edits made through Camera RAW are non-destructive. The settings are saved in an external file instead of embedded into the image. Sure, you can edit your RAW images in Photoshop, but working in Camera RAW in Bridge is quicker. Users can create image catalogs, assign copyright messages, export files for social media and more.

Needless to say, Adobe Bridge is a valuable tool in any designer or photo editor’s arsenal.

Kevin Slimp works as a newspaper industry trainer, speaker, writer and consultant.

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