Chapter 9. Exploiting Automation: Working Smarter, Not Harder
The goal of doing all the work I've discussed so far in this book is to set up your raw images with the correct Camera Raw settings and the right metadata so that you can produce
One of the great things about a computer is that once you've made it do something, you can make it do that something over and over again, exactly the same way, automatically, without coffee or bathroom breaks. Tapping the power of automation is key to building an efficient workflow, so in this chapter I'll show you how to leverage the work you've done in Bridge and Camera Raw to produce deliverable images in a variety of formats.
Bridge serves as command central for all the operations I'll discuss in this chapter. They all boil down to a two-step process.
The Photoshop submenu offers a variety of useful routines for creating images in a deliverable form, but by far the most powerful and flexible is the Batch command.
Batch Processing Rules
The Batch command is one of Photoshop's most powerful features. It's conceptually very simple. You point it at a batch of images, it runs an action on them, it (
As you'll see shortly, though, the
Figure 9-1. The Batch dialog box
The dialog box is split into four different sections, each of which controls a different aspect of the batch process's behavior.
The difficulties that users typically encounter in running Batch are in the way the selections in the Source and Destination sections interact with the action applied by the batch operation. Here are The Rules. (Note: these are my rules, and I swear by them. They don't represent the only possible approach, but by the time you're sufficiently skilled and knowledgeable to
Rules for Opening Files in a Batch Operation
To make sure that the raw files get opened and processed the way you want them in a batch operation, you need to record an Open step in the action that will be applied in Batch. In the case of raw images, you'll want to make sure that Camera Raw's Settings menu is set to Image Settings so that it applies the custom-tailored Camera Raw settings you've made for each image, and you'll also want to make sure that Camera Raw's workflow settingsSpace, Bit Depth, Size, and Resolutionare set to produce the results you want.
Now comes one of the counterintuitive bits. If you record an Open step in the action, you must check Override Action Open Commands. If you don't, the batch will simply keep opening the image you used to record the Open step in the action. Override Action Open Commands doesn't override everything in the recorded Open command; it just
Some people find this set of behaviors so frustrating and counterintuitive that they latch onto the fact that you can run Batch using an action that doesn't contain an Open step and hence doesn't require messing around with the checkbox. The problem with doing so is that you lose control over Camera Raw's workflow settingsthe batch will just use the last-used settings. So you may expect a folder full of 6,144 by 4,096-pixel images and get 1,536 by 1,024-pixel ones instead, or wind up with 8-bit sRGB instead of 16-bit ProPhoto RGB. If you simply follow The Rules, you have complete control over the workflow settingsthe correct ones get used automatically.
Rules for Saving Files in a Batch Operation
To make sure that the processed files get saved in the format you want, you need to record a Save step in the action that will be applied in Batch. This Save step dictates the file format (.tif, .jpg, .psd) and options that go with that formatTIFF compression options, JPEG quality settings, and so on.
Now comes the second counterintuitive bit. You must check Override Action "Save As" Commands:
Rules for Running a Batch Operation
Two other settings commonly trip people up. Unless you check Suppress File Open Options Dialogs, the Camera Raw dialog box pops up whenever the batch opens a file, and waits for you to do something. Checking this option just opens the image directly, bypassing the Camera Raw dialog box. The Camera Raw settings for each image are used, but the batch operation isn't
If the workflow settings recorded in the action result in an image in a color space other than your Photoshop working space, you should also check Suppress
Playing by the Rules
If you follow the relatively simple set of rules I've provided, your batch operations won't fall prey to any of these ills, and they'll execute smoothly with no
So with The Rules in mind, let's look first at creating some actions and then at applying them through the Batch command.