No MacBook, No Sweat

Two spontaneous paintings from Biennial worship
Captured, edited, posted. No MacBook required.
My trip out to Biennial marked my first major trip sans MacBook. Given one of my reasons for traveling to Biennial was to take photos with my DSLR, this was a huge deal. And yet, the combination of iOS and Lightroom Mobile erases my need to have my MacBook with my when I’m away. I can transfer images off my SD card with the USB 3.0 to Lightning adapter, create a new album in Lightroom, and import those photos into it. When I’m on Wifi the new album syncs with Creative Cloud, preserving them for when I get home. If I’m feeling impatient I can even connect to my MacBook through Screens, open Lightroom, and allow it to sync the new photos from Creative Cloud. It’s a very nice way to work, and the initial import on to my iPad is actually faster than on my Retina clamshell.

This workflow isn’t perfect, but the deficiencies in it actually lie in Lightroom’s iOS offering, rather than iOS itself. In fact, the touch interface of iOS is my preferred UI for making my photo adjustments. There is something appealing about physically touching a photo I captured in order to change it’s character.

There are three deficiencies I find remaining in my iPad first workflow.

First, there is no way to convert imported images to DNG. This might not be an issue for many people, but I find Adobe’s DNG format an excellent way to store my RAW files. It enjoys wide support, and DNG files are often smaller then the proprietary formats used by digital cameras. Apple, in fact, used DNG as the format for any RAW photos captured on the iPhone. I’d love to see this implemented, as it would take away another step when I get back to organizing my photos at home.

Second, I lose controls for noise reduction and sharpening. While Lightroom’s desktop app presents sliders to control these two adjustments, but in Lightroom Mobile they exist only at presets for “Low,” “Medium,” and “High.” These presets create good results, but I miss the ability for deep tweaking.

Third, even though the feature has been added to the iPhone, the iPad version of Lightroom Mobile continues to lack the ability for adding image titles and descriptions. This makes updating my Flickr or Smugmug accounts with new content a bit of a chore. While I perfer the editing interface on the iPad over the iPhone, I would very much like to see these features added to my iPad workflow!

Even with my three deficiencies, each of which can be fixed in the future, the truth is still this. I travelled three time zones from home, took a large number of RAW photos with my Nikon, and had them organized and edited before I ever got back to my “real” computer. That is pretty cool.



  1. Peg Horton says:

    Just bring all your iOS s and or what ever devices you took ,with you and yourself back safe and soon. I miss you.

    Sent from my iPad


  2. chrisjwilson says:

    For a long time I’ve much preferred editing on my iPad because it felt like I was more in contact with the images…and yet I am all too familiar with these issues! I’d add that I wish the importing image screen was better (the thumbnails can be so small) and I wish I could import directly to Creative cloud so that I don’t get a couple of copies of each image (this is definitely improving in iOS with the ability to “modify” images and have no destructive changes. The DNG issue is something I wish camera manufacturers took up as apple would have to add in its own conversion engine. Interestingly Pentax and Ricoh camera use DNG as the raw format too.
    I’m playing with affinity photo, it’s a really nice program but its more photoshop than Lightroom. Plus the controls can be a bit strange at times. I think I need to watch some videos.

    1. wezlo says:

      I so wish I could import directly into Lightroom (And Creative Cloud) as well! Deleting the last import from camera roll isn’t difficult, but sometimes I forget that step because I want to get right on to editing images.

    2. chrisjwilson says:

      This is actually something iOS could get a lot better with, avoiding duplicating files all over the place 😦 Still.

    3. wezlo says:

      It has gotten better over time, but it does have a long way to go!

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