Camera Raw, Bridge, or Lightroom?

by Scott Kelby  |  16 Comments


Yesterday I was going through the session evaluations from my Photoshop World “Photoshop Seven-Point System” class (I take these evaluations very seriously, and I read every single evaluation from every class I teach).

I was really gratified to see that the class really struck a chord with attendees (so much so, that I’ll be teaching it again in Las Vegas at Photoshop World this September), but I saw an evaluation that really stood out to me, which read:

“One says Bridge; One says Camera Raw; One says Lightroom—I’m confused!”

With 80 sessions at Photoshop World, and 41 instructors, as you might imagine there are a lot of classes that include, or are based on, either Camera Raw, The Bridge, Lightroom, or all three, which is what I think is behind this attendee’s comment. After reading it, I realized that he probably isn’t alone, so I thought I’d try and unconfusify him (and anybody else) here with a quick Q&A:

Q. So, which one should I use?
A. Camera Raw in Photoshop CS3, Camera Raw in The Adobe Bridge, and the Develop Module of Lightroom 1.4 are all the same. All three have the same sliders, in the exact same order, they have the same tools, etc..

Q. So what’s the difference?
A. Camera Raw has a light gray background, and Lightroom’s Develop Module has a dark gray background.

Q. That’s it?
A. That’s it.

Q. Oh come on!
A. Well, if you want to split hairs, technically Lightroom has one extra tool (The Targeted Adjustment Tool), buried down in two of the panels, but other than that, they’re exactly the same.

Q. So why would anyone want to use the Camera Raw in Bridge rather than the one in Photoshop CS3?
A. You’d want to use it to process a bunch of raw photos in the background, which frees up Photoshop CS3 for other tasks.

Q. So, the Bridge can be processing photos, and then I can do something completely different in Photoshop?
A. Yup.

Q. That’s pretty cool.
A. I know.

Q. So why would I want to use Lightroom?
A. It’s way better than the Bridge.

Q. Really?
A. There’s a reason why the Bridge is free.

Q. Oh. So Lightroom is better than the Bridge?
A. For photographers, Lightroom replaces the Bridge, Camera Raw, and does a whole lot more, because it’s a whole workflow tool (which is its strength—it’s for managing ALL your photos; thousands of them, and processing new photos in the quickest, most efficient manner yet), using five separate modules (The Library, The Develop Module, The Slideshow Module, The Web Module, and the Print Module).

Q. How do these stack up against the same features in Photoshop?
A. It’s just my opinion (as is this entire Q&A), but here’s how I feel they stack up:

  1. The Library Module in Lightroom, absolutely blows away the Bridge. To me, there’s no comparison, and the features, workflow, and whole process of organizing, sorting, and managing your photos is much easier, more efficient, and fun in Lightroom.
  2. The Develop Module is actually just Camera Raw on a darker gray background, but in Lightroom there are some features (including the Targeted Adjustment Tool) that just aren’t in Camera Raw in Photoshop CS3 or the Bridge. Plus, in Lightroom there are all sorts of other advantages (like White Balance previews for one) that just aren’t available in Camera Raw. (Note: In the Public Beta of Lightroom 2.0, the Develop Module leap frogs Camera Raw even more, but that’s a different topic. Kinda).
  3. Lightroom’s Slideshow Module, while not perfect, creates slideshows way beyond what the Bridge can do. For one, you can add Music (and that’s just the start).
  4. The Web Module in Lightroom goes far, far beyond any Web gallery you could create in Photoshop or the Bridge. It’s not even close.
  5. Lightroom’s Print Module alone is worth switching to Lightroom. Once you print out of Lightroom 1.4.1, you’ll never want to print out of Photoshop CS3 again. Sorry, but it’s true. What it does to the printing process is just amazing, and in the Lightroom 2.0 Public Beta, Adobe took the print features up a big notch.

So basically, all the things that Lightroom and Photoshop have in common, Lightroom does much, much better. That’s why I spend about 70% of my time in Lightroom. I only use Camera Raw when I need to edit an image that I didn’t import into Lightroom for some reason (maybe someone sent me the file, or I just needed to quickly edit one photo).

Now, to sum it all up, I’ll answer the original question:

Q. One says Bridge; One says Camera Raw; One says Lighroom—I’m confused!
A. They’re all the same; Once you learn one, you’ve learned them all because Camera Raw in the Bridge is the same as the Camera Raw in Photoshop CS3, and is the same as the Develop Module in Lightroom 1.4.

My advice: If you’re a photographer, I would focus on learning the Develop Module in Lightroom, because Lightroom has been designed from the ground up as a tool for photographers, and it’s the future for pro photographers, but if at some point you wind up needing to use Camera Raw—you’ll already know how to use it.

I hope that helps the person with the question (who didn’t sign their evaluation form), but name or not—I read ‘em all, and when I do the session in Vegas, I’ll be sure to address this in the class.


Welcome to “No Blog Wednesdays”

by Scott Kelby  |  1 Comments


Hi everybody, and welcome to the first of many “No Blog Wednesdays” because I realize that I really need a mid-week blogging break about every week at this time, to catch up on work, writing, and just hang with the family. So, from now on, all Wednesdays here at The Photoshop Insider will officially be “No Blog Wednesdays.”

But, I’m not leaving you out to dry, because each Wednesday I will have a similar post to the one you’re reading now (written on Tuesday, but posted on Wednesday) with a link to a different person in our industry who isn’t a slacker that needs a mid-week blogging break (like me), so you can jump over to their blog and see what’s up on Wednesdays (Just don’t forget to come back here on Thursdays and Fridays).

Here’s a blog to check out today:

Thanks for understanding, and we’ll see you on Thursday. :)

All my best,

It looks like I’m blogging today, but I’m really not


Two From Today’s Shoot

by Scott Kelby  |  2 Comments


I did a shoot today with Big Electric Cat lead guitarist Tony Llanes, and his Harley (click on it for a larger view). Tony looks like like a tough guy, but I’ve been friends with Tony for around 27 years and he’s a total teddy bear, and one of the nicest, warmest, and most fun guys you’d ever want to meet (and one hell of a guitar player, to boot).

The shoot was done on a black seamless paper background with just one light–an Elinchrom Ranger RX strobe with an Elinchrom Octaback, and we placed it directly above the bike, aiming straight down, for a dramatic, shadowy look. I intentionally let the shadows on Tony just fall, rather than trying to fill them in with a reflector, but there are two reflectors on the floor, just outside the frame, one on each side, bouncing some light back on both the front and back wheels of the bike.

Specs: It was shot with RC’s Nikon D300 because I forgot my rig at home (and RC was nice enough to loan it to me), and it was shot in Manual Mode at 1/60 of a second at f/5.6 at 200 ISO using an 18-200mm Nikon f/3.5 – f/5.6 VR lens. I triggered the flash using a Skyport trigger.

Last week, when I ran a poster-look with a shot of a sand dune, I had a number of questions about which font I used. The font for the regular Dunes shot (and the one used here as well), is Trajan Pro (look in your font list—it’s probably there). For the Pano poster I showed (on the black background), I used the font Gil Sans Light. I added space between the letters (called Tracking) to make the type look a little more airy and elegant.

As far as creating the Poster layout itself, the key is to crop the photo so it’s perfectly square, which already gives the photo a different look. Secondly, in Photoshop add 2 inches of white Canvas Area on all sides, then add 3 more inches just to the bottom. Then add your text (in this case, Trajan Pro), with lots of Tracking (I set it at +240), in the Character panel, and type the first letter of each word in upper case.

The photo itself was processed using my Photoshop 7-Point System, and I had to clone away some things like a wheel of a C-stand, part of a light stand, and the front edge of the seamless.


I also wanted to have a few shots that had just a hint of light–just lighting the highlights, and the the shot above is the result (it looks much better larger, so click on it for a larger view). The light is in the same place, but I powered the strobe down as low as it could go. The processing is just in Lightroom, but I did do a final sharpening in Photoshop right before I saved the JPEG. The rest of the specs are the same.

Overall, it was a fun shoot, and next time I’m shooting a specially built green chopper of Tony’s, and I’ll wind up lighting it differently to bring out the color, and who knows; maybe I’ll throw a reflector on Tony and make him look like a nice guy again. ;-)


Spend The Day With Me in Hartford, Connecticut at the Photoshop CS3 Power Tour

by Scott Kelby  |  0 Comments


I’m coming to Hartford, Connecticut for the first time ever, on Tuesday, May 13, 2008 with the Photoshop CS3 Power Tour one-day seminar, and I hope if you’re in that area, you’ll come out and spend the day with me.

The seminar is held at the Connecticut Convention Center, and it’s only $99 for the full-day seminar, (if you’re a NAPP member, it’s just $79).

Here’s the link with full details, class schedule, and you can sign-up there as well. Hope I’ll see you there!


Scott’s Top Five List For Everything!

by Scott Kelby  |  9 Comments


I get emails and comments from people who ask me for suggestions on everything from which lens to buy, to which restaurant to eat at when they come to the Tampa Bay area. So, for the past few months I’ve been putting together a “top 5″ list of all this type of stuff—from my favorite Photoshop books, to great places to get an amazing steak, to five things you probably didn’t know about me, to…well, just a load of different stuff—all over the board, on all different kinds of stuff.

I share the same recommendations I’d give to a friend, so you might actually find one or two parts to be helpful. I put links to as many things as I could, but as you’ll also see some things couldn’t have a link.

Note: although it’s a “top five” list, they’re listed in no particular order.

Also, if there’s a topic I missed, or a product/service/restaurant, etc. that you want to turn me on to….post it here…there’s nothing I love more than learning about cool new stuff.

One last thing: it’s a long list, and if I posted it on my home page, it would take up the whole page and then some, so click the “More” link below to see the full list. Hope you enjoy it, and that it starts off your Monday with a smile.

Continue reading


Friday News Wrap-up

by Scott Kelby  |  0 Comments


First, here’s a shot of my brother Jeff taken in Dubai (click for larger version). I don’t really have anything special to say about the processing (just Lightroom), or settings—I just love my brother, and wanted to share this photo of my lifelong best friend and mentor.

Now, here’s a quick look at what’s happening as we head into the weekend:

  • World Famous landscape photographer (and Photoshop World Instructor) Stephen Johnson, has two workshops coming up that sound really fascinating; the first is right around the corner, on May 3-5, 2008 as his “Landscapes of California” digital photography field workshop takes place in the beautiful Point Lobos, and Carmel, California area (here’s the link). Then, he’s taking the show on the road to Ireland’s Spectacular West Coast for 10 days (June 20-30,2008) for a workshop co-sponsored by the Maine Media Workshops (Here’s the link). If you’ve never taken a workshop from Stephen—he’s an amazing instructor, photographer, and person. Highly recommended.
  • I saw a review of my Photoshop CS3 Book for Digital Photographers over at a site in Sweden. Here’s the link.
  • Part 2 of Dan Margulis’ “5 Minutes to a Picture Postcard” online class from just went live yesterday. Here’s the link with all the details (and you can watch a sample there as well). By the way; Dan did a “mini” version of this class at Photoshop World in Orlando, and it had everybody talking. Dan has, once again, pushed the envelope of what you can do color wise, and sharpening wise, in Photoshop.
  • Catch Photoshop User TV and Layers TV over at Adobe TV. While I was out in Dubai, Adobe released the very slick Adobe Media Player, along with Adobe TV (which plays in the media player), which a free online source for video tutorials on a wide range of Adobe products, and NAPP is honored to be a part of the launch with free episodes of Photoshop User TV and Layers TV included as part of their channel. Here’s the link with all the details.
  • David duChemin, over at the Pixelated Image, did a follow-up post to my “Always Shooting With The Wrong Lens” post that builds on what I was saying, and it’s definitely worth a read (here’s the link).
  • I had a number of comments and emails about the photo I posted of Jeff Revell shooting in the desert yesterday (the bottom shot in the group). I wish I could take the credit for performing some “Photoshop Magic” on it, but that’s pretty much the way it came out of the camera. I just used Lightroom’s White Balance slider to add more blue to the sky (yes, it was that bland of a cloudless sky, but if I had tilted the camera a little higher, you would have seen some pretty uninspiring cloudy skies, so I kept it low), and I sharpened it. Sorry there wasn’t more razzle dazzle to it.
  • One last thing: I’m so gratified to see how regulars of this blog are helping field questions posted here as comments. I actually do answer some of them privately (I do often email answers to the person who posted the question directly), but obviously there’s no way I can answer them all (or even most of them). So please consider this my humble thanks to those of you who help other folks out here. You’re doing a really nice thing, and my hats are off to you for helping them, and for helping me out, too. :)

That’s it for today. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, and we’ll see you back here next week! Take care—Scott.

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