Written by Carl Weese
Not long ago Mike mentioned how annoying it can be when software manufacturers include changes in an update that disrupt our accustomed workflow. I’ve just encountered one of these situations and thought it might be useful to recount what happened and what I’ve done—so far—to cope with the changes.
As background, while I still shoot large format film and work on scans in Photoshop, with digital capture I do almost everything in Adobe Camera Raw (ACR), the raw file development module of Photoshop Creative Cloud (PSCC). After a recent update of PSCC, the first time opened a capture from Bridge into ACR I saw that the main, or “Basic” panel of buttons and sliders was significantly changed. The top of the panel now begins with a Treatment line, with radio buttons for Color and Black & White. The next line is Profile, with a dropdown and an expansion option that turns out to offer a large number of profile choices. The pane where we used to do the b&w/monochrome conversion now has only the set of sliders for Black & White Mix. (I’m currently reading a book that quotes frequently from books and correspondence of late 18th century authors, and I’m amused to find that their use of Capitalization is almost as extravagant as Adobe’s.) Next I noticed that the very useful-if-you-don’t-overdo-it Dehaze tool has been promoted from the fx pane to the Basic panel.
Then I hit a snag. I’d just shot a session that I planned for B&W. Over years of working with ACR I’ve saved quite a lot of User Presets. Things like half a dozen frequently-used white balance settings, four different levels of vignette (lens falloff) corrections, something as simple as a setting that only invoked the monochrome/grayscale conversion of the HSL pane. I selected all the captures in the session, then went to the top menu for Edit > Develop Settings…expecting to see all of my custom presents. They were gone. Copy, paste, previous conversion, and ACR defaults were the only options. Those aren’t exactly difficult to use, but they’re nowhere near as convenient as having my own set of User Presets available.
So I headed to the Presets pane, and found a whole new set of dropdown menus: Color, Creative, B&W, Curve, Grain, Sharpening, Vignetting, and then finally, User Presets. I applied my grayscale preset to a single file, dropped back to Bridge, selected the rest of the session captures, then went to Edit > Develop Settings > Previous Conversion.
Later, I began to work with some new captures. There were just a few so I brought six into ACR, selected all and hit the new Black & White button at the top of the Basic panel. Yuk! The conversions were harsh and ugly. They were a terrible tonal representation of the color image before conversion. Hmm. The second line in the panel, Profile, read out Adobe Monochrome. I dropped back to Bridge and brought up one of the files I’d converted earlier, and found that the Profile read Adobe Standard B&W. What’s going on?
Back to the new files, up into ACR, and I opened the long list of Profile drop downs. Under B&W there were seventeen options. Most were harsh and ugly, but a few looked more promising. The last five clearly imitated classic pan film filter effects, B&W Yellow Filter, B&W Orange Filter, etc. Then I noticed that one of the dropdown options was Legacy, and sure enough, when I opened it, there was Adobe Standard B&W. Apparently, calling up my grayscale User Preset located this option under the hood and provided the grayscale conversion I’d been used to. It really is the Legacy conversion that used to be the default. Rummaging around a bit, I found that I could make Adobe Standard B&W a Favorite, and I could cut Adobe Monochrome from the Favorite list (if not consign it to an inner circle of Hell), making Adobe Standard B&W effectively the default if I hit the Black & White button up in the first line of the Basic panel.
On a more positive note, I was disconcerted when I first found the new and improved User Presets drop down, because, as I moved the cursor down the list of presets, the image in the Preview window jumped all over the place. Each Preset was being immediately previewed. Once I’d gotten the mono conversion issue at least preliminarily settled, I went back to look at this again, and have to say that I like it. Mousing over my set of saved White Balance settings and seeing the Preview image show the effect without actually committing to it is really quite cool. Same for my set of vignette correction settings. Not to mention my often used highlight recovery settings. I’m going to save more of those at a finer grade of distinctions because it is now so easy to preview their effect by just mousing down the list of User Presets before selecting one of them.
There’s some validity to, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” and changes like these can be annoying, especially if what’s going on is pretty opaque, but sometimes there’s really good stuff to be found in what the anonymous elves stick us with in each upgrade. I’m old enough that being forced to learn new stuff is supposed to be good for me, so I’m not all that annoyed.
Carl Weese, who lives in rural Connecticut with his artist wife Tina, has been teaching the esoteric art of fine platinum printing in group workshops and private tutoring sessions since the 1990s. He has had several Pt/Pd print sales on TOP.
©2018 by Carl Weese, all rights reserved
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(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Rob de Loe: "Under the new model Adobe is following we are going to have to get used to frequent major changes like this. I actually like the new Profiles approach. I compared the Adobe Monochrome profile to the one I developed using the old camera profiles, and I prefer Adobe Monochrome. It brings out just a touch more separation between tones at the start, meaning that it gives me a bit more headroom to make adjustments using the other tools. My only worry was that Adobe will 'tweak' the Profiles in future versions, meaning that in a few years an image I open in Lightroom will be different than it is today because the foundational profile was changed behind the scenes. It's been suggested to me when I raised this elsewhere that Adobe won't do this; instead they'll preserve Adobe Monochrome as it is, and make a new version with a new name. This is the approach they use with Process Versions (so I have some hope that this may be how they do it)."
Eric Chan: "Here is some more information about the new Profiles feature in Camera Raw (also applicable to Lightroom). And here's a video that provides an overview of the feature as presented in Camera Raw. Rob, we are definitely sensitive to preserving the appearance of your existing (already-edited) images. If we find ways to improve the quality of the profiles, we would be creating new or additional profiles (instead of changing the appearance of existing profiles). Cheers, Eric Chan, Camera Raw Engineer."
Thomas Knoll: "Mark presets as Favorites to have them appear in the Bridge menu. It is now common to have hundreds or more presets installed, and we needed a way to keep the menu usable."
[Thomas Knoll of Adobe Systems is the original creator of Photoshop. —Ed.]
Carl replies: Marking presets as Favorites to have them appear in the Bridge menu works nicely. There are only a few user presets I frequently want to apply to large groups of files, so it was easy to add them back to the Bridge menu as Favorites and have them back again.
Howard: "Let me recommend an enlightening book that will help with these changes: Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson, M.D."