Category Archives: Adobe Photography Program

Lightroom and Creative Cloud updating

Update: I have Lightroom installed on both my desktop and laptop computers. When I first installed Photography Program and Creative Cloud my existing copy of Lightroom was recognised by my laptop and even performed an update to v5.2. The PP/CC installation on my desktop machine would not recognise Lightroom from the outset.

I’ve just tried updating LR using Creative Cloud: no dice, on either machine. Reverting to updating LR as a stand-alone application worked fine though.

Lightroom continues to lack integration with the rest of Adobe’s Creative Cloud.

UPDATE (21-12-13):

Ha! within a couple of days of writing the above post Adobe issued an update to the Creative Cloud software. Lightroom now appears in the App list alongside all the other applications installed on the computer. We’ll have to wait until the next LR and PS release to see whether the update process now works via CC.

Behance in practice

I’ve already found that Photoshop and Lightroom don’t integrate very well with Behance, but that doesn’t mean that Behance doesn’t have a value. This post sets out to evaluate Behance from the point of view of an advanced photographer (whether pro or semi-pro) or an artist-using-photography. I will also bear in mind that Behance is augmented by ProSite, a more fully-featured Web site creation tool, which I’ll evaluate separately.

Before sitting in front of Behance, I first want a list of criteria, that is, the functionality I want to see from an image storing and publishing site with elements of social media about it.

I want:

  1. to be able to control access to my images. My model for this is Google Docs, where I can keep documents or entire folders private, make them available to individuals or groups, or make them public (I’m not expecting or wanting full document management features though);
  2. to be able to license my images, preferably using my choice of one of the Creative Commons licences (Since I’m paying for Behance I don’t expect to give away my images in return for the service e.g. Flickr);
  3. to be able to organise my images, either in projects, albums or by tagging;
  4. to be able to sort my images into a specific order e.g. for a proposed book layout. The ability to maintain multiple permutations for comparison would be even better;
  5. to be able to perform bulk operations on my images, e.g. select multiple images and delete/tag/move/rate with one click;
  6. it to be clear when an image/project/album is a work-in-progress or is finalised;
  7. viewers to be able to rate images on a scale, say 0-4 or 0-5 with criteria that I can set (just “liking” an image isn’t particularly useful)
  8. viewers to be able to comment on images, ideally using an annotation overlay to the image (e.g. “darken the sky here”, “warm the skin tone there”)
  9. version control on edits and revisions. This implies a history of changes needs to be kept and that comments are linked to specific versions of an image/project;
  10. viewers/picture-buyers to be able to compile their own albums that include my images;
  11. to be able to sell my images, ideally with secure on-line payment facilities or, failing this, to indicate that they are for sale with a link to an e-commerce site of my choosing.

So how does Behance stack up against these requirements?

Requirement 1 – able to control access to my images

I can set visibility to Everyone (i.e. the world), to a circle of people with accounts on Behance, or to individuals with Behance accounts. That’s about all I need really.

It is interesting that even though I set a restriction, an anonymous search of the Behance Web site will still show that I have a project on Behance, the viewer just cannot access the images until they log in and are verified.

I can set a warning for adult content, which allows others to selectively control access.

Requirement 2 – able to license my images

Yes, I can select any of the 3 options for my Creative Commons licensing (allow commercial use, allow modifications, allow derivatives. Attribution is always set, which is fair enough). I can alternatively opt for No Posting Without Permission, which some might want, though this limits potential exposure.

Requirement 3 – able to organise my images

Behance has 2 areas for my images: Work in Progress or WIP; Projects, which are groups of my images.

Unfortunately Behance does not allow me to move WIP images to Projects. Instead I have to delete WIP then upload images as projects. This seems unnecessary use of bandwidth.

Within a project I can re-order images, caption them individually, mark them for sale and change the spacing between them. I can replace or delete individual images.

I can also attach a limited amount of metadata to the project as a whole by allocating creative fields (e.g. architecture, landscape design, typography) and by tagging (e.g. landscape, black and white). I can write a description of the project and I have access to additional fields: brand; agency; school; credits; tools used. The main use for these is as filter criteria when users search the site. There is also a link from a project to a WIP that allows you to direct viewers to an image in the WIP area. I’m not sure how I’d use this yet but it’s probably part of someone’s workflow.

Requirement 4 – able to sort my images into a specific order

I can re-order images within a project, so this would be OK for discussing, say, a potential book layout with a publisher. Although I can control visibility of my project I cannot control editing rights, so although my editor can view the project she would need to email me about changes as I am the only one who can edit. This does not lend itself to collaborative working; it would be better if I was able to select who could view-order-edit-delete separately.

Requirement 5 – able to perform bulk operations on my images

Bulk operations are really limited: if I upload a lot of WIP images and later turn them into a project I have to delete each WIP image individually then upload them all again as a project – yuk! I can keep multiple versions of each WIP image and delete them all with one click but that’s about it for bulk operations. This is an area that will have to improve or busy professionals will quickly find a better alternative.

Requirement 6 – be clear when an image/project/album is a work-in-progress or is finalised

Behance certainly does this: WIP and projects are completely separate – too much so (see criticism in Requirement 5). It is possible to link a project to a WIP image, but only 1 image – I can’t yet see what value this has unless the project only consists of 1 image perhaps…

Requirement 7 – viewers to be able to rate images on a scale

Behance supports Likes and Comments – but so does every social media site on the planet. I need my collaborators to be able to rate images with scores or stars and, if possible, against multiple criteria. Nope, Behance can’t do this.

Requirement 8 – viewers to be able to comment on images

WIP images and projects both support comments. It’s basic and nothing to make it stand out from the crowd. Now if my colleague could drag an arrow from her comment to a point on my image, that would be really useful (e.g. “lighten the face here”, “remove this tree branch”).

The random sample of comments I’ve seen are no better than comments on general public sites, e.g. “nice landscapes”, “beautiful”, “great work Gerhard! always an inspiration”. Perhaps within closed circles the comments are more constructively critical but from what I’ve seen so far there’s nothing to distinguish between the audience on Behance and any other image-based site.

Requirement 9 – version control on edits and revisions

WIP images can contain multiple revisions and each revision has separate comments. The revisions are not date/time stamped though the comments are. This is quite a useful system. Projects can only be discussed at the project level, not image by image. Images can only be commented on as a WIP. Unfortunately there is no integration between projects and WIP images – shame.

Requirement 10 – viewers/picture-buyers to be able to compile their own albums

Nope.  Behance does not have anything resembling lightbox, album or basket functionality. I will have to look elsewhere for this.

Requirement 11 – to be able to sell my images

There are no e-commerce tools in Behance so for e-commerce functionality I will have to look elsewhere. All I can do is flag images as “for sale” and link to an external site.

Conclusion

Behance’s declared mission is “To empower the creative world to make ideas happen”. Unfortunately the hype and the reality are a long way apart at the moment. Adobe bought Behance because it needs this on-line platform. What I see, though, is only a start. At the moment Behance expects me to work in a particular way and be constrained to its workflow. That won’t do, especially for its target customers – creatives. It needs more flexibility and more functionality.

As a promotional tool it has potential. The customer base is creative and image-based, and the quality of the work I’ve seen is high, so it should be a lot more targeted than, for example, Flickr.

But as it stands Behance is very much a work in progress. I really hope Adobe has a development program in place for this platform because from what I’ve seen so far, it definitely needs it. I am continuing my subscription for a year and will report back on enhancements as they appear.

Photography Program applications and Behance

I’m already getting the feeling that the four elements of Photography Program are separate products packaged as a single subscription. There is a loose inter-working between Photoshop, Lightroom, Behance and Prosite but Creative Cloud doesn’t add much to the package, at least at the moment.

Behance (http://www.behance.net/) is a Cloud repository for photography projects where you can make sets of images available publicly for other to see and comment. It is intended for work in progress, and is a bit like a blog really, or perhaps a more up-market Flickr. The images feed ProSite, which packages & publishes them in a polished, customisable form. If it’s as good as the marketing blurb would have us believe, it should replace my stand-alone Web site. Well, we’ll see!

In December 2012 Behance and ProSite became subsidiary operations of Adobe Systems Inc., So I guess we can look forward to better integration in the future, but at the moment your Adobe ID isn’t linked to Behance or ProSite; a separate account is needed. I’ve covered the account creation process in a previous post; here we’ll see how Lightroom, Photoshop and Behance work together.

Lightroom and Behance

The obvious tool to hook up to Behance is Lightroom, and sure enough, there is a publishing option in the Library module

Behance in Lightroom

The Behance publishing service in Lightroom’s Library module

I can log in to my account and set a number of publishing options in this interface

Behance options in Lightroom

Behance options in Lightroom

I have several projects that I’d like to get feedback on so I’ll use one of these as a test. Eventually I will publish these images on ProSite, and a quick read through the Beginners Guide shows that the maximum image size it can display is 1920px wide so that’s what I’ll set in the Image Size section of the dialogue. Despite this, when I upload images to Behance they all come out as 710px wide, so that’s the first bug. Worse is to come.

Lightroom can only upload images as work in progress (WIP), not as projects. This is bad, particularly when there is no way in the Behance Web site to group my WIP images into projects. To use the Project feature of Behance I have to export my images from Lightroom to my hard drive then upload them via the Behance Web interface directory as a project. Adobe really hasn’t thought this one through from a user perspective. And there are user comments on Adobe’s own blog sites dating back to June 2013 expressing their contempt for the Behance plugin. Despite these gripes it didn’t get on Adobe’s to-do list as the plugin in LR5.2 hasn’t changed. I had hoped that Jeffrey Friedl would have produced one of his excellent plugins to replace the bare-bones Adobe effort, but he hasn’t (He does note a serious publishing-related bug in Lightroom 5 though, which also didn’t get on Adobe’s to-do- list: http://regex.info/blog/2013-06-10/2268)

Conclusion: at the moment (i.e. Lightroom 5.2) the Behance publishing plugin is too limiting to be worth using in my own workflow.

Photoshop CC and Behance

Photoshop CC sports a new menu option to Share on Behance, so let’s see if that fares any better than Lightroom.

Photoshop CC’s Share on Behance option only exports the currently visible image to Behance. The image can be titled and tagged, and a multi-layered PSD will be exported automatically as a flat JPEG, but the width is again limited to 710px. And the image can only be uploaded as WIP, not added to a project. So, unless you have a loyal following on Behance who are willing to comment on your images, perhaps as part of a distributed team working collaboratively, this feature seems of limited value.

Conclusion: the Share on Behance feature in PsCC is too limited to be of real value outside of a niche set of users. It is unlikely I’ll use it.

More development needed

The limited interface between Ps, Lr and Behance may be of some use to Adobe’s core creatives if they need tools for rapid iterations of work in progress, but Photography Program is aimed at professional and amateur photographers whose workflow and requirements are different. In particular, Adobe hasn’t catered for those who see Behance mainly as a staging post to making a full Web site available via Projects and ProSite.

Adobe urgently needs to improve the functionality of the Lightroom Behance publishing plugin if it wants to claim any sort of integration between the elements of its Photography Program. And Behance should add the ability to migrate images from WIP to projects rather than having to re-upload them (what a waste of time and bandwidth it is at the moment) as well as improving bulk operations on files (every file has to be uploaded and deleted individually).

Until the plugin improves, my workflow will be to export images from Lightroom to my hard drive then upload them as projects via the Behance Web interface.

Photography Program and Behance sign-up

I was promised a Behance Pro site as part of the Photoshop Photography Program but it’s not immediately obvious how I get one. Checking Adobe’s Web site only led me through the Photography Program purchasing chain. The Behance Web site was no better. The Creative Cloud application on my computer has a tab for Behance

Creative Cloud applicationbut this only gave me two options: make my work public or link to my Behance account, neither of which seemed appropriate. What the heck, I’ll click on the Make my Work Public button and see what happens. Hey presto, Behance wants me to open an account and not pay them any more money! As they say, simple when you know how.

They have a  Beginners Guide (sic), so off to read its 35 pages then report back on how I get on.

Updating applications via Creative Cloud

I’ve had Photoshop Photography Program installed for only a few days and I’ve already been prompted to update Photoshop CS6 (i.e. version 13), Photoshop CC (i.e. version 14) and CameraRAW.

There are two ways to update: using the “old” Adobe Application Manager; or use the Creative Cloud application. A popup prompted me to update and when I clicked it, Creative Cloud opened – Creative Cloud looks like this:
Creative Cloud application

I clicked to Update All but after a few minutes it told me there was an error, please try again. Clicking again simply gave me another error message about a corrupt download. Unfortunately CC would not re-download the files so I tried another approach. I opened Photoshop CC and clicked Help | Updates. Interestingly, this opened Adobe Application Manager, which proceeded to download and update the applications successfully.
Adobe Application Manager

The Creative Cloud application has been available for a little while but is clearly still not as robust as the older Application Manager. Let’s hope the Creative Cloud application can update itself more successfully than it does the other applications!

Adobe Photography Program – purchase experience

Adobe’s Photography Program is now live at https://creative.adobe.com/plans/offer/photoshop+lightroom?sdid=KIHZP. Interestingly, it is now being touted as the Photoshop Photography Program.Adobe Photography Program offer

Anyone who owns a copy of Photoshop CS3 or later can purchase a licence for £8.78 /month including VAT for the next year. As I explained in a previous post, this represents a potentially good deal. However it is a special price that will only last a year, after which we can only assume that the price will be close to the Photoshop CC licence of £17.58 inc. VAT.

Initially I don’t expect to see a huge advantage from the software point of view: I might get updates more quickly, but it’s only after 12-18 months that I’m likely to see significant advantage as Adobe moves more functionality and support to their Creative Cloud offerings. The immediate benefit to me will be the Cloud storage and web site creation. So normally I wouldn’t rush to adopt this new service but I am intensely curious about Adobe’s move – for those who use Adobe’s software professionally the cost may well be justified but what about us amateurs? Will it be worth it not just now but into the future? Just for once, I’m going to be an early adopter of this service and document my experiences here.

Step 1: sign in with your Adobe ID

If you don’t have one already, it’s an easy matter to create one. But if you don’t have one you might get problems since I’m not sure how else Adobe will have your ownership of Photoshop recorded in their system. Yes that’s right, Adobe checks its records (step 2) to make sure you are entitled to the special offer.

Step 3: accept T&C

Accept the terms and conditionsThe T&Cs are straight forward and if you are happy, proceed to payment.

Step 4: Visa or Mastercard only (too bad on you PayPal addicts!)adobe-03After you’ve spent a minute or two in Adobe’s waiting area you are directed to download the software

adobe-04While doing this you can salivate at the new features in Photoshop

adobe-05

Creative Cloud installation

I already have the Creative Cloud software installed on my PC so my browser only had to confirm that I wanted to use this application for the download and installation. If you don’t have Creative Cloud installed, this may be an additional step for you.

adobe-06Photoshop is a sizable program so it will take a while but Creative Cloud shows you progress

adobe-07I’m on a moderately fast home broadband and it took just over 20 minutes to download. So it’s back the the waiting area, a coffee, and a browse through the Photoshop CC features. Here’s and interesting one: in the Filter | Sharpen menu there is a new filter for Shake Reduction. That’s not in the latest update to Ps CS6! And Camera RAW is available as a filter so if you like using the controls in CR just apply them as a filter to your image – not essential, but neat!

Starting Photoshop CC

Let’s check the download/install went as smoothly as it seemed and start the program. There’s no desktop shortcut so off to the Start menu. There’s a 32-bit and 64-bit version. A couple of right-clicks on the 64-bit version and I have a shortcut. The 64-bit version fires up and asks if I want to migrate my presets from CS6 to CC. Answer yes. Photoshop looks the same as ever but a quick look through the drop-down menus shows a few extra items. At the bottom of the Edit menu there are options to manage my CC subscription

additional meu items in Ps CCAnd on the File menu there is an option to Share on Behance.

Lightroom

To install Lightroom I have to go back to the Creative Cloud application, click the Install button next to Lightroom to start the download/installation of this software. This only takes about 12 minutes. In fact, there isn’t a Creative Cloud version of Lightroom, all I’ve done is download and install the same piece of software I had as a stand-alone application, though this time Creative Cloud is aware of it and, presumably, will keep it up to dateLightroom installation under Creative CloudMy desktop shortcut works but Lightroom wants me to register , despite having done so when I originally installed the software. It also defaults to use my stand-alone serial number, so what would happen if I were installing it for the first time as part of the Creative Cloud subscription, I don’t know. Oh well, it works for me. so I’ll leave it as it is. It seems that Lightroom is bundled as part of the subscription but without any additional features, not even the integration of Adobe ID in the menus.

Creative Cloud storage and Behance

These are both services rather than desktop applications, so investigating them will be part of a follow-on blog post.

So far, then, a fairly painless process! I wonder if it will continue that way?!

Adobe’s Photography Program licence question

Adobe’s Photography Program is due to go live this week. It’s not there yet though, perhaps because they’ve been busy rolling out updates to Lightroom and Camera Raw.

I have been able to answer one question I had: will I be able to install Photography Program on my laptop as well as my desktop under a single licence? Well, yes I can. As a single licence user, the Adobe licence Terms include the following:

2. Software License; Membership.

2.1.3 Portable or Home Computer Use. Subject to the restrictions set forth in Section 2.1.4, the primary user of the Computer on which the Software is installed under Section 2.1 (“Primary User”) may install a second copy of the Software for his or her exclusive use on either a portable Computer or a Computer located at his or her home, provided that the Software on the portable or home Computer is not used at the same time as the Software on the primary Computer.

Also, I notice that the Adobe Subscription Terms allow me a 30-day cancellation period, which is reassuring, and gives me a deadline to finish my evaluation of the Program!