Adobe Photoshop CS3 – intel Mac version – first impressions

Bridge is much quicker and much, much more stable than in CS2. I hated Bridge in CS2; so much so that if I did not have it open I would sometimes rather go to file/open in Photoshop and trawl through the images in the folders on the computer, than go to Browse and watch the clunky Bridge program open and struggle.

All that is changed now with Bridge in CS3. Now it is a pleasure to use and let’s you get right on with finding what you want.

After 16 days use it has not crashed on me once. It has however told me on two occasions that it has quit unexpectedly, but on both occasions I had just closed the program. So whatever it said, it had not crashed at all, in fact. I have had that happen with Bridge CS2 also – strange bug.

It has a nice Preferences panel to set the background (from black to tones of grey to white) for the images and for the data, and for the highlighted folder. Very nice on the eye. And there is a nice crossover point where, if I set the background darker than a certain point, the text changes from black to white – a necessity otherwise the text would be invisible.

The layout and sizes of the panels (folders, thumbnails, large version, metadata etc) can be changed to suit, and and allows a nice big view of the chosen image.

Bridge does stacks, keywords, sorts, labels, and slideshows like Lightroom does, but it does not have all the output options (print, Web, batch process) that Lightroom has. So for batch processing jpeg images for print or to a website, there is still reason to have Lightroom.

Photoshop CS3, however, has a script that will batch-make jpegs, PSDs or TIFFs. And it will make a web photo gallery, though I have not compared its capabilities with what Lightroom will do.

How long will Photoshop/Bridge and Lightroom remain two separate programs though? The stated philosophy was that some photographers wanted to process and batch process images and did not need the capabilities of Photoshop. That may be so now, but I cannot help but think that CS4 will surely incorporate everything Lightroom can do.

Photoshop’s RAW converter is a huge improvement. I was never happy with the lack of controls in the RAW converter in CS2 and the need to think in terms of further operations in Photoshop ‘proper’. It always seemed to me to be a bodge of a way to deal with images and probably a hang-over from the architecture of earlier versions of the program.

Whatever the reason, in CS3 it is now possible to get an image how you want it in the RAW converter before you open it. There is everything you might want to do in terms of the production of the unretouched image. The capability that I find I am using more and more, is fine-tuning the tone curve. The tonal range is divided into four sections from highlights-lights-darks-shadows and each has a slider. Using these I can fine tune the appearance in a convincing way.

The other capability I find I am using, are the hue/saturation/luminance sliders. Using these I can make very fine adjustments to the colors.


Once opened, the changes in CS3 are more subtle. It is quicker but for many operations the extra speed is not so startling. The tool layout is tweaked but not so different.

But what is better are the additional things that are hidden ‘under the hood’ so to speak. The features don’t jump out at you and so I have been looking at Russell Brown’s videos. I recommend them highly – they all free, and made by a major contributor to Photoshop’s development.

for example, smart filters for text is a joy.

The Refine Edges palette option within the Quick Selection Tool are a visual pleasure and the tool itself uses a selection method that enables the user to teach the tool what to include within the selection.

The subtleties of the Clone Stamp tool are great because they are so visual. In fact that is the characteristic that best defines the improvements in and additions to the tools. They are visual – you can see what effect you are making before you commit to your settings.

As of now- a success.

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