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New Review Mode in Adobe Bridge CS4

As with all the other components of Adobe's Creative Suite of programs, the CS4 version of Bridge features a host of refinements. One of my favorites is the Review mode that provides an exciting new way to view your images and pick out the very best from a selection of similar shots.

Suppose you have a number of images shot at the same location that you are trying to compare. Each has its plusses and minuses but you would like to determine which works best for a project you are working on. Yes, you could open them all directly in Photoshop, but even with a fast computer with lots of memory, this may take a while. Wouldn't it be much better if you could lay them out on your screen in much the same way photographers used to do with slides on a light table in the old days? That should bring back some memories if you used to shoot film. This is basically what the Review mode in Bridge gives you. And if you've never worked with film, Review mode will give you a taste of what you missed out on.

To access Review mode, first select the images you are interested in the normal folder view in Bridge CS4. You can select a range of images by holding down the Shift key while you click, or use the Control key (Command on Mac OS) plus clicking to select images that are not next to each other. Now select "Review Mode" from the View menu. If you're a fan of keyboard shortcuts, you can also get to Review mode by pressing Control-B on Windows or Command-B on Macintosh.

Review mode occupies your entire screen so you can concentrate on the images you have selected. If you are working with up to four images, they will be arranged in a traditional grid arrangement. The real magic happens when you have more than four images in Review mode. Adobe cleverly designed the interface to show you one main image with the remainder arrayed behind it in a sort of "circular carrousel."

The controls for Review mode are simple. The left and right-arrow keys (or the left and right arrow buttons in the lower left of the screen) allow you to rotate focus between images. With more than four images in Review, all images change positions as they rotate around the carrousel display. With fewer images present, the images themselves don't move but the focus still does. You can tell which image is the main one because its title will be shown more prominently than the others. There's also a down-arrow button (or the corresponding down-arrow key on the keyboard) which can be used to remove an image from Review. It doesn't actually delete the image or anything; it merely takes it out of the Review display as if you had never selected it to begin with.

With images selected you can also use the number keys from 1 to 5 to assign star ratings as well as pressing 6 through 9 to assign the corresponding labels just as you would from the Label menu. As always, you can change what each label says by going to Edit >> Preferences >> Labels. To open an image in Photoshop, just press the "O" key while that shot is the main image in Review.

Review mode also has virtual magnifying loupes you can hold over images to examine small details without actually opening them in Photoshop. Just click on the magnifying glass icon in the lower right and then click on an image. If Review is in carrousel layout (more than four images selected) you will get only a single loupe but once you have things narrowed down to no more than four images you can add multiple magnifying loupes to compare details between images. Loupes can also be dragged around using your mouse as needed.

To exit out of Review mode, press the Escape key or click on the "X" icon in the lower right. This will take you back to the regular folder view where you started.

Bridge now also features the idea of a "Collection" that is a virtual folder of images. Images in a collection don't get moved or copied into a new folder for that collection, but Bridge makes it look as if they had been copied. In reality, the collection merely has pointers to where the images actually reside, but you can work with a collection as if it were a physical folder for most tasks. If you want to exit out of Review mode and create a collection of your final selections, click on the Collection icon in the lower right next to the "X."

CS4 doesn't seem to have generated as much press coverage as the previous Creative Suite versions did, but there are more than enough improvements to justify upgrading for those who are looking for the best tools possible to make their creative efforts easier.

Review mode in Adobe Bridge CS4
Review mode in Adobe Bridge CS4
A magnifyng loupe in Bridge CS4 Review mode
A magnifyng loupe in Bridge CS4 Review mode
Multiple loupes are possible when no more than 4 images are active
Multiple loupes are possible when no more
than 4 images are active
Having fun with a lot of images in Review mode
Having fun with a lot of images in Review mode

Date posted: January 18, 2009


Copyright © 2009 Bob Johnson, Earthbound Light - all rights reserved.
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