October 2007 HelpLine

Helpline October 2007
• Switching Hard Drives
• A More Stable Lens
• Staying Late 


Switching Hard Drives

Q) I had to replace my C drive and, as a result, reload all my software. This meant resetting preferences in my programs, etc. I had spent considerable time in Adobe Bridge classifying my pictures in various categories. Now that I reloaded CS2 and Bridge from scratch, those categories are “lost.” I have the old C drive set up so I can access some of the information on it. Is there a file I can copy from the old drive onto the new drive that would restore my categories in Bridge?

Dick Cole
Via the Internet

A) Adobe Bridge is an application designed to manage your media files and is useful for browsing through your image files, doing batch processing and adding metadata to tag your files. You can create your own keywords and then use a simple check box to ensure consistent tagging of image files. To keep the keywords organized, they’re grouped into categories like Events, People and Places. The categories are keywords, as well.

When you changed your hard drive, you broke the link between Adobe Bridge and your keywords. The keywords are stored in an XML file called Adobe Bridge Keywords.xml. When you installed Adobe Bridge on your new drive, a default keyword file was created, and that’s why you don’t see all of your hard work.

XML (which stands for Extensible Markup Language) is the new way of storing some types of data. It’s very flexible and excels in sharing data across different computer platforms. XML files are text-based and can be viewed in many web browsers and text editors. So if you want to see what the Adobe Bridge Keywords.xml file looks like, you can open it in a web browser or a text editor and see all of the keywords. If you do this, I recommend that you don’t try to edit or resave the file unless you feel very comfortable doing so. Even then, I recommend that you save the original as a backup in case you make a mistake.

XML is a tagged language. You’ll see that each keyword is considered an item. A typical keyword in XML might look like: <item name=”Minneapolis”/>.

So let’s see how we can restore those keywords that you worked tirelessly to create. Part of this process being described is for Windows computers. In Mac OS X, use Spotlight to locate the file mentioned above on both your old and new hard drives and skip to step 4 in the instructions below.

1.?Quit any open applications. While the keyword file is only used by Adobe, it’s good practice to stop any applications that might interfere with any dialog boxes or file copying.

2.?Open up your new C drive, then locate and open the Documents and Settings folder. Next, find the folder with your login name. If you log in as Dick Cole, find that folder and open it.

3.?Look for the Application Data folder and open it. Sometimes the folder is hidden, unfortunately. If you can’t find it, go into My Computer or Explorer, and from the Tools menu, select Folder Options. On the View tab, locate Hidden files and folders in the list, select Show hidden files and folders, then click OK. If you still can’t see the Application Data folder, repeat step 2.

4.?Next, look for the Adobe folder and open it. Finally, look for the Bridge folder and open that. You should see a file called Adobe Bridge Keywords.xml. Rename this file to Adobe Bridge Keywords.old.

You don’t really have to do this step, since you didn’t like the default keywords, but I always use this kind of safeguard when I copy application support files. It helps prevent overwriting files by accident. Using this method, if you were to copy the original file from your old drive to this location and you get the File exists, overwrite? warning, you’d know that you’re copying the wrong file, since you renamed the default file. It might seem like overkill, but this good habit can save you from making some big mistakes. (And it doesn’t really take much time; it probably takes more time to read this explanation than to do it!)

5.?Now that the destination is ready to accept your original keyword file, go to your old C drive and drill down to the folder mentioned above: Documents and Settings/Dick Cole/Application Data/Adobe/Bridge/. Find the “Adobe Bridge Keywords.xml” file and copy it to the same location on the new C drive. Launch Adobe Bridge, and your keywords should reappear. If this process is successful, you can go back into the Bridge folder and delete the Adobe Bridge Keywords.old file.

A More Stable Lens

Q) You don’t seem to answer any product recommendation questions, but I thought I’d try anyway. I’m considering purchasing a new lens for my year-old digital SLR. The variety of lenses out there is a bit overwhelming to me, but I think I’ve narrowed it down to a couple. My question isn’t brand-related, but more involving features and whether one feature in particular is really worth it. I’m trying to decide between a lens that offers stabilization and one that doesn’t. Is it really worth the extra money for stabilization? 

Ed G.
Via the Internet

A) You’re right about my not answering product recommendation questions. While questions about which product to buy make up a vast majority of the HelpLine questions that I receive, they don’t make it into this column or my weekly web questions at pcphotomag.com (subtle promo, huh?).

Why don’t I make product recommendations? These days, photographic equipment performs remarkably well. I see great images coming from people using all of the different camera models at all different price ranges. So it’s rare that I’d have to say, “Don’t buy brand X because it won’t work.”

More importantly, I look at how I buy photographic equipment. (Contrary to popular belief, I do buy my equipment!) My process for purchasing equipment involves a lot of research and, more importantly, a lot of personal evaluation of my needs. For example, when I buy a lens, I really look at what I want from the lens, and then I balance that against performance, size, weight and cost.

If someone were to ask me if they should buy the new “LensTikki 13-274mm ƒ/3.7-12.3 OH NO” lens, I’d have to start down a very long road of questions: How are you going to use it? What do you expect from this lens? What kind of photography are you interested in? How strong are you? What filters do you have? What’s your bank account like? The list goes on and on.

So product recommendation questions turn me into a personal shopper, which isn’t really in the photography magazine columnist’s job description. And the advice becomes so specific that it’s probably not appropriate for everyone looking to buy a LensTikki.

Having said all that, I’d like to comment on the choice you’re facing: image stabilization or no stabilization. Image stabilization can be built into either your camera or your lens. Since you’re considering a lens with this technology, I assume your camera doesn’t have it.

I recently answered a question about purchasing accessories for a digital camera. For me, this was an easy answer, as a tripod goes a long way toward image sharpness. While nothing can replace a properl
y set up and sturdy tripod, image stabilization can go a long way.

If you do a lot of handheld photography with slower shutter speeds, I’d see how much your bank account can handle and opt for the lens with the stabilizing technology. But if you recognize the limitations and push your ISO to increase shutter speed, or if you use a tripod for most of the photos you’d shoot with this new lens, you could go for the nonstabilized option.

Staying Late

Occasionally, I take some space at the end of this column to offer some tips I come across in my photography travels. While the saying “the early bird catches the worm” is appropriate for sunrise photography, the same can’t be said for sunset photography. I traveled to the North Shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota and had the opportunity to shoot some waterfalls that were rushing after a couple of days of rain. While most would call it a day after the sun went down, I captured some interesting images after others had left for the day. A long exposure, coupled with a neutral-density graduated filter, allowed me to capture both the moon and the rushing water. Yes, the bugs were a little annoying, but the digital advantage of being able to see the results on location and not having to deal with reciprocity failure in film made for an exciting evening of photography.              

If you have questions, please send them to HelpLine, PCPhoto Magazine, 12121 Wilshire Blvd., Ste. 1200, Los Angeles, CA 90025 or [email protected].

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