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
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
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.