Import raw files into LR Mobile?

How do you import raw files into LR Mobile on location, then sync to LR Desktop at office?

You can’t really do this. Mobile is not designed as a laptop replacement for travelling.

There is one workaround which is quite new. If you have access to a proper computer on the road, you can log into Lightroom Web and create a collection. You can then drag the raw files from an Explorer/Finder window, into the browser, and drop them in the collection. The originals are then uploaded to LrWeb and will be synced to your Mac and will be available in LrM. So in this case your LrM adjustments, ratings etc will apply directly to the raw files when you return home.

Alternatively, as you know, you can get the JPEGs into LrM from the Camera Roll and make adjustments, add ratings etc. When you’re back home and import the raw files, you can use my Syncomatic plugin to sync the work from the JPEGs to the corresponding raw files. I’ve heard of a few people doing this.

LR Web – clients don’t have an Adobe account?

Is it possible to have a client review and comment on a shared album without having to set up an Adobe account?

Lightroom Web is the browser-based part of Lightroom Mobile. When Lightroom uploads photos (smart previews) to Adobe’s servers for Mobile, they can also be made available to other clients such as a web browser, and that’s what’s being done at https://lightroom.adobe.com/ .

LR Web is designed with a Facebook-like mechanism for allowing friends/clients to mark pictures as “Favorites”, and you can use this feature to allow them to select images they might want. These choices appear automatically in LR, and you can add your own responses in LR.

One awkward detail is that the client needs an Adobe account. This feature is pretty new and has already changed quickly, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it changes to allow other ways of authenticating comments. But it’s easy to imagine people may be reluctant to sign up, even if the account is free.

For now, you can always set up a dummy account and tell people to log in using that user name and password.

If you need more than one person to view a set of images, just duplicate the collection and sync it too (this doesn’t mean extra uploading). So, for example, client John might log in using mydummyadobeID and has the URL from the Shoot-John collection, while client David would use exactly the same ID to view the Shoot-David collection.

Lightroom Mobile 1.3

Lightroom Mobile 1.3 has just been released, and as Sharad Mangalick writes, it adds three significant improvements:

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You can now copy adjustments from one image to another

  • Edit images faster by copying image adjustments and pasting them onto another photo
  • Easily find your favorite images ! The new Segmented view in Collections gives you a different way to view and engage with your photos.
  • Want to pass your device around the family to look at your photos? With Presentation Mode, you can do that without worrying about your flags, ratings and adjustments being accidentally changed.
Adjustments

Being able to copy adjustments between images seems indicative of Adobe’s ambition for this app.

If you’re puzzled at that comment, and wondering why I would edit photographs on a device I cannot calibrate, I think it’s worth adding that I was recently asked this question and my response was that it’s because you don’t use it for the finest level adjustment that requires a colour managed environment. Instead you do broad brush adjustments when you just find yourself with a few minutes on the train or in the pub. This means that once you are back in your colour managed environment, some of the donkey work and also contemplation is done, and all your desktop time can then go into the fine tuning. In a sense, I think it’s right to see a comparison with Quick Develop, though the adjustments are more precise and you can crop images too. On the iPad I can often readily identify that an image needs a bit more exposure, that dragging back highlights will bring detail in the sky, that I want to do it B&W…. These are the kinds of adjustments I might just make on the iPad when I have the inclination and a bit of time.

Now, I wouldn’t do these kinds of adjustments when a set of pictures has a deadline. That’s simply not the point of Mobile – in those cases, I’m literally immobile and remain chained to my desk.

segment

You tap the subheadings to change how the grid is divided

Segmenting

I’m less sure about the value of segmenting a collection, and perhaps it’s trickier than it needs to be. As with filtering, you go into a collection and tap the title at the top of the screen – you can then choose between a flat and segmented view.

Some collections will immediately be segmented by useful periods. So I have one collection of photos taken over 17 years which defaults to annual segments. But this collection was shot over two days and segmenting by day is less interesting than breaking down the pictures by hour.

The trick is to tap-hold the subheading and you can then choose year / month / day / hour.

It’s (almost) safe to hand your iPad to your friend’s too-smart teenager

But for me the last item, Presentation Mode, is the most welcome. A few months ago I was at a large table in a restaurant and a friend’s teenage son asked to see a set of pictures I’d been talking about. So while we enjoyed our lunch, I handed him my iPad and let him flick through the pictures. Only later that evening did I notice that he’d figured out how to add ratings (swipe up on the right hand side) and had even managed to make a few adjustments. Isn’t youthful curiosity a wonderful thing? Anyway, no great harm was done, and in Lightroom Desktop I could sort by Edit Time and use the History panel to remove his handiwork.4369-c8ec-3074-d951

But that’s what Presentation Mode is designed to prevent. Before handing over the iPad, I would go into the Share menu, and choose Present. I’d prefer something less fiddly, like a multi-finger gesture, but it’s probably a good enough solution.

First hints of Lightroom 6

If it hadn’t been so cold here, I’d probably make a joke about the first shoots of spring – but we’re now seeing the first hints that Lightroom 6 is coming.

Writing on Adobe’s official Lightroom Journal, Sharad Magalick provides an Update on OS Support for Next Version of Lightroom :

We are hard at work on the next major release of Lightroom, and wanted to share some information on operating system requirements in order to give everyone time to prepare for the release.

In order to leverage the latest operating system features and technologies, Lightroom 6 will require Mac OS X 10.8 or above, or a 64 bit version of Windows 7, 8 or 8.1.

It’s that last bit that I quote that is important – “Lightroom 6 will require Mac OS X 10.8 or above, or a 64 bit version of Windows 7, 8 or 8.1.”

Lightroom Mobile now on Android phones too

mobile_workflow

The workflow is between the computer and the iPad – not, as some expect, from camera to iPad to computer

Adobe always prioritised Lightroom Mobile’s iOS version – iOS is disproportionately dominant among Lightroom users – but they’ve always said Android was planned. Although Sharad Mangalick’s post is dated Jan 8, it’s just been released for phones:

Tonight we’re announcing the immediate availability of Lightroom mobile for Android phones.

Lightroom mobile extends your existing workflows beyond the desktop, allowing you to utilize your Android phone to review and edit your images and have the changes sync back to your Lightroom catalog at home, including:

  • access images in your Lightroom catalog

  • make selects, reject unworthy photos

  • apply a preset

  • fine tunes your images using the Basic panel

  • import new photos directly from the Gallery

Adobe release Aperture and iPhoto import tool

aperture_importAdobe have just announced the release of their Lightroom plugin to import Aperture and iPhoto libraries:

As promised in a blog post here, we are proud to introduce the Aperture and iPhoto import plugin for Lightroom 5.  The plugin allows Aperture and iPhoto customers to migrate their images and key metadata (such as keywords, events, project structure) into Lightroom catalogs in a seamless way.

The plugin is free for all Lightroom 5 customers and is available on Adobe Add-ons and installs via the Creative Cloud application.

Direct link to the plugin – here.

For my advice on how to use it, see my updated Aperture to Lightroom page.

List View 1.80 lets Excel send text to Lightroom

I’ve just uploaded the next version of ListView here and will release it officially when I’m happy it works correctly. If you want to try it though, I would welcome any feedback.

One change is that Lr 4/5 users get more standard-looking scrolling, and I’ve also introduced an option to create tab-separated export. But the most exciting addition is an Excel add-in (included in the zip file) that can send metadata directly from Excel into Lightroom.

For the technically-minded, the Excel add-in works by adding a cell function =ListViewValue() and a macro which reads the spreadsheet and communicates directly with the open Lightroom catalogue, effectively asking Lightroom to “find the picture this file path and set its title to XYZ” (for example). So in your spreadsheet you just create cells with the =ListViewValue formulae and run the macro.

It’s worth adding that I’m not doing anything dubious like hacking into Lightroom’s SQL database or XMP files – Excel is communicating with Adobe’s authorised method, the SDK. In my former life as a financial IT consultant I used to do lots of work with Excel’s VBA programming language and this method is very similar to how Excel communicates with many business systems. So I’m confident it’s a workflow which will will be popular, at least among Excel-savvy users.

I’ve tested it with the current versions of Excel on both PC and Mac. But for technical reasons I do not plan to support older Excel versions or the special Excel 64 bit version for PC. Just in case that last comment is confusing, on Windows Microsoft offer a 32 bit Excel version which runs under 32 or 64 bit Windows 7/8, and this is the version most people use, but there is also a 64 bit Excel which is not recommended by Microsoft for general use.

I probably won’t offer step by step instructions either. Here I don’t want to be patronising, but this tool is likely to be useful only if you have advanced Excel skills and can figure out what you need from the video (which is best viewed full screen).

So try it, and let me know it works.

 

Aperture-like projects and Lightroom

How would I replicate my Aperture projects in Lightroom?

I think it’s helpful if you can try to remember that Folders hasn’t got a real equivalent in Aperture. You don’t see the actual physical location of files in Aperture’s interface, and the nearest you get is the Reorganise Masters dialog. You would use this command to manage the physical location of files, but not their organisation in the sense of projects or categorising your pictures. In Lightroom terms Folders is a major element in the interface, but like Reorganise Masters it’s all about physical location and safekeeping – not project organisation or categorisation.

You can summarise how Lightroom’s main “containers” compare with those in Aperture:

  • Folders = (approx) Reorganise Masters
  • Collection Sets + Collections = Projects, Albums, Books, Slideshows etc
projects

An Aperture-like project structure in Lightroom collections, not folders

So as Folders are not for project organisation in Lightroom, what about Collection Sets and Collection. First, I do find Lightroom’s Collection Set / Collection split a little uncomfortable or unconvincing. At one time it was possible for a Collection to contain other Collections as well as photos, and you didn’t really need the Collection Set. I thought this worked well, but for some reason things ossified into Collection Sets which can contain Collections but not photos, and Collections which can only contain photos AND saved books/saved slideshows/saved web galleries/ saved prints.

That last bit – that you can drag books and slideshows under Collections – is really worth emphasizing.

  • It’s relatively new and is not shown much in Lightroom tutorials
  • It’s more Aperture-like, and I think relevant to the original question.

As background, until Lr4 any collection could be “multi-purpose” and quietly recorded its slideshow and/or web and/or print settings, while in Aperture there was a more “explicit” approach where any album might have books or slideshows as children. Since Lr4, things are more similar and books, slideshows etc are Lightroom Collections in their own right, but with the big difference that these these “output collections” can be dragged inside another Collection.

Now that may sound complicated, but you don’t really need the background. The important thing is that it allows a more natural organisation like you had in Aperture. So in my example:

  • I have an overall project called “Lake District”
  • All Lake District photos will share certain keywords like “Lake District”, so I gather them with a Smart Collection called “”All photos”
  • There are other Smart Collections for a sub-projects on mining, and another which groups all the Photoshopped versions
  • Books are in a Collection Set which contains two Collections, and here you see how a Collection can contain books and other “output collections”
  • You don’t need to know which folders contain the pictures – for what it’s worth, they are in dozens of date-based folders

Here I’ll make a general observation that Lightroom users tend to make more use of traditional IPTC fields for structuring and organising their catalogues. As you’ll probably see in my example, the structure wouldn’t work at all if pictures weren’t keyworded “Lake District”, while in Aperture you could just drag the files into your Lake District project and you wouldn’t need to keyword them. So Lightroom users tend to use keywords and other IPTC field that little bit more for such structural or organisational purposes. I think that’s quite an important tip for Aperture users.

But to conclude, you can have an Aperture-like project structure providing you don’t make the mistake of thinking Lightroom folders are Aperture projects. So I’ll repeat again:

  • Folders = (approx) Reorganise Masters
  • Collection Sets + Collections = Projects, Albums, Books, Slideshows etc

Traffic

trafficI’m really not obsessed with traffic to this site, and I rarely look at the statistics, but because of my Moving from Aperture to Lightroom page I expected a spike in visitors after the news that Apple had finally stopped developing Aperture.

I won’t disclose exact numbers – and I’ll leave it to you to decide if that’s because of commercial confidentiality or embarrassment – but the spike was roughly 15 times the normal level and traffic now seems to be running at about 4 times what it was before. Thanks Apple PR.

 

Goodbye Mr Damocles?

Lightroom 5.5 brings a hugely-surprising – and very welcome – change to how Lightroom behaves once you stop subscribing or after a trial ends.

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To appreciate the importance of the change, just imagine a couple of scenarios:

  • You might try Lightroom for 30 days, import and work on photos, then decide not to buy the program – but the trial ended before you had printed some pictures you had adjusted.
  • Potentially much more calamitous is if you had been subscribing to Adobe’s Creative Cloud, either the full version or the Photoshop+Lightroom bundle, and then stopped your subscription for whatever reason. You might have had a lot of hours or years tied up in Lightroom, but suddenly all your work would become inaccessible.

Adobe have now addressed what many regarded as a particularly-objectionable aspect of the subscription model, and it’s clear they have been thinking about this for some time – see John Nack’s post here. You can now breathe a lot more easily.

What Adobe have said

From the official statement from Adobe’s Tom Hogarty:

With the latest update to Lightroom 5.5 I believe we’ve also addressed a lingering concern in the community: What happens to my photographs after my membership ends?  With Lightroom 5.5, at the end of a membership, the desktop application will continue to launch and provide access to the photographs managed within Lightroom as well as the Slideshow, Web, Book or Print creations that we know many photographers painstakingly create. The Develop and Map modules have been disabled in order to signal the end of the membership and the need to renew in order to receive Adobe’s continuous innovation in those areas. Access to Lightroom mobile workflows will also cease to function.

Everything except Develop and Map

So even if Lightroom is no longer licensed, it will continue to open catalogues and almost all the important features will remain available. Adobe have also kept it nice and simple – Develop and Map are disabled, as is Mobile. But you can do everything else, and after a 30 day trial or a subscription expires you’ll continue to be able to use Lightroom to import new photos, find and organise them, apply keywords and other metadata, use them in books or slideshows, print and export them.

Quick Develop and Presets

What if you want to make more adjustments? Well, while you won’t be able to use the Develop module, you can still adjust your photos through Library’s Quick Develop panel or by applying presets – the only thing that’s really unavailable is cropping.

What do you think?

In fact, I’m actually quite surprised at what seems a very generous move. What do you think?

Apple kills Aperture

If you’re a refugee from Aperture, see my Moving from Aperture to Lightroom page

It’s been obvious for a while that Apple couldn’t be making money from Aperture and that they were no longer investing in developing new versions, but finally the sword has fallen. Apple To Cease Development Of Aperture:

With the introduction of the new Photos app and iCloud Photo Library, enabling you to safely store all of your photos in iCloud and access them from anywhere, there will be no new development of Aperture. When Photos for OS X ships next year, users will be able to migrate their existing Aperture libraries to Photos for OS X.

Even before that announcement, consistently the most-visited page on this site was my Moving from Aperture to Lightroom. If that’s what brought you here, moving to Lightroom is not too difficult a process. I’d just say that with these things the devil is always in the detail, so as well as reading the article  I would encourage Aperture refugees to read the comments where some of the individual insights might prove particularly helpful.

 

 

Syncomatic matches by capture time

I’ve 20140622_syncomaticjust updated my Syncomatic plug-in to version 2.0. This plugin synchronises Library metadata and Develop adjustments between pairs of files whose names match or from the top item of a stack to the other stacked items.

What’s new is that it now allows you to match files based on identical capture times.

The idea occurred when Victoria Bampton suggested a potential workflow involving Lightroom Mobile for users who want to import raw files directly to the iPad.

As I’m happy with the standard method of importing files to LR on the desktop,  I’ve never really thought about the problem or wondered about workarounds.

But others have. You can shoot raw+JPEG, import the JPEGs into Lightroom Mobile on the iPad, apply star ratings and flags, even make adjustments. When you return to your computer, you can import the raw files into Lightroom as normal, and LrM would automatically bring in the JPEGs which were processed in LrM. Unfortunately the JPEGs’ names no longer match the raw files. In her book Victoria suggests renaming the files, but quite sensibly asked me if Syncomatic could avoid that step.

So Syncomatic 2.0’s new capture time option allows you to sync the metadata from the JPEGs to the raw files.

Any thoughts?

One big folder?

Scott Kelby says put all images in one folder first. I want to stay with two folders is LR still appropriate?

Ignore Scott’s advice. Forget the idea about putting your images in one folder, if it’s indeed what he says, and you can certainly have two or more main folders with subfolders beneath them.

In general, I think it’s fair to say that for all his many strengths, advice on organising photos isn’t one of Kelby’s strong points. But the idea of putting everything in a single folder seems so ludicrous I find it hard to believe he’s not been misquoted.

However, the advice isn’t completely off-target if you interpret it to mean avoiding overcomplicated folder systems. After all, every so often I encounter someone who says he has some pictures on this drive, others on that drive, others….oh, and the 2009 vacation are still on the old laptop. If you are anywhere near that kind of patchwork organisation, trouble is lurking somewhere down the line. Instead a simple system of one or two main top level folders, and then a third next year when you need another disc, means that at any moment you can say all my pictures are under control, they’re all recorded in Lightroom, you know they’re all backed up, and you waste no time finding ones you need because they’re all in Lightroom. So if Scott’s “one folder” advice makes any sense, it’s about keeping your photos in as few places as makes sense, but no more.

Brush your mask

I wouldn’t normally link to Camera Raw 8.5 RC and DNG Converter 8.5 RC Now Available since this is a Lightroom site, but I want to point out this nice little addition to the graduated and radial filters:

  • Modify Graduated and Radial Filter masks with a brush:
    • After adding or selecting a Graduated or Radial Filter instance, click the new ‘Brush’ mode (next to existing ‘New’ and ‘Edit’ mode buttons) to reveal brush controls that allow you to modify the selected mask.
    • Use the ‘Brush +’ and ‘Brush -’ icon buttons in the brush controls pane to add to or erase from the selected mask.
    • Press the ‘Clear’ button to remove all brush modifications from the currently selected mask.

It’s a fair bet to say that this will come to Lightroom too.  So imagine you apply a graduated filter to darken the sky, but it also darkens a tree – this will allow you to avoid that happening.

Looking better?

Hopefully the site’s new look has settled down now. Do say if there’s anything wrong.

I’ve also just removed the “Elsewhere” section which showed recent posts on other good Lightroom sites. I’ll restore it if people say it was useful, but I can’t be bothered keeping it if those sites don’t reciprocate….

 

Long term thinking

Maybe the most common response to yesterday’s announcement of Lightroom Mobile has been annoyance at it being tied to a subscription to Adobe’s Creative Cloud. I won’t defend that other than by saying that it was pretty inevitable given Adobe’s sudden switch to subscription sales and also results from the nature of the service. But I did think it worth pointing you to some recent commentary on Adobe’s finances and in particular Forbes magazine’s response to an Economist puff piece about how the drop in Adobe’s profits since CC’s launch had been accompanied by a rise in its stock price. Steve Denning writes:
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“Wall Street isn’t entirely stupid,” Roger Martin commented to me. “If a cogent argument is made for a different business model, then it will listen.  Most such company arguments lack cogency and that’s why they fall on entirely deaf ears. This is particularly interesting because it has long been thought that a traditional license-selling software company can’t cross the chasm into a Software as a Service (SAAS) model because the transitional hit on revenues is just too brutal. Once you get to the other side, it is great and arguably a superior model with a recurring revenue base. But it is brutal to build up that base. It’s important for Adobe to succeed because it will help Wall Street understand that it is doable. Others will then follow.”

While it’s heartening to see Wall Street for once not totally obsessed by the short-term, one can also ask: is this a bold, creative customer-friendly management decision, as The Economist suggests? Or could it be a desperation move in the form of a financial gadget that is aimed at covering up a lack of innovation?

I think it’s worth making a couple of other points. Notice the word “desperation”, which is quite similar to my view last year – Adobe may feel they have no alternative to going down the subscription route. Secondly, as a former corporate financial planning cubicle worker, innovation is just one approach to pressures on profitability – cost-cutting is another.

Lightroom Mobile – Lightroom for the pub?

Last September Adobe’s Tom Hogarty demonstrated a Lightroom app on the iPad, and a couple of months ago what looked like a draft announcement made a brief appearance on Adobe’s web site. It was promptly removed, but not before people had taken screenshots saying it would be available at $9.99 a month. That seemed a lot for an iPad app on its own, but it was clear something was coming and wasn’t too far away.

More recently Adobe had failed to released a Lightroom 5.4 Release Candidate at the same time as the corresponding betas of Adobe Camera Raw and the DNG Converter. Early adopters of the Nikon D4s and Fuji’s XT1 were left unable to process their shiny new raw files in Lightroom, and of course they blamed Adobe for their slowness rather than Nikon and Fuji for their failure to offer DNG as an option. I had a few emails asking why Adobe hadn’t rushed out a Lightroom 5.4 beta. Clearly, there was something unusual happening.

The answer came last night – 5.4 has been released with an iPad app, Lightroom mobile.

I quite like it, even if I think Adobe have made some avoidable mistakes, but I’m going to focus on the gotchas. After all, there will be enough gushing stuff elsewhere, or tap by tap instructions and even books on it. So it’s gotchas here….

What it’s for

mobile_workflow

The workflow is between the computer and the iPad – not, as some expect, from camera to iPad to computer

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking Lightroom mobile is any substitute for the full Lightroom experience. It isn’t and it doesn’t claim to be so. See this explanation of why the workflow isn’t camera > LrM > desktop.

Photo editing need not mean exactly the same work that you would do with all that desktop horsepower. The space for tablets is quick and dirty broad adjustments, done at your leisure in moments when you’re not chained to your computer. Doing broad adjustments on the iPad and (just-as-importantly) thinking about the picture’s needs, you can put your serious face on again later when you are back in front of your colour-managed monitor – all that’s left to do is the fine tuning.

Secondly, the app really isn’t just about editing. I find its best use is presentation – just running a quick slideshow on the TV or showing your pictures directly on the iPad. Yes, I know there are apps that do this (I have 3-4 of them), and it’s not rocket science to get pictures into them from LR via Dropbox or whatever (I figure it out afresh each time I tweak my iPad portfolios), but when IT-savvy people like me find that a pain…. None of these methods is remotely as simple as clicking a button next to the collection.

Third, its best use is for casual activity, just flicking through images when you’ve escaped from the desk and deciding which you like or not. Here Adobe dropped the ball – you can only use flags – but it can still be used.

So that’s why I think of it as Lightroom for the pub or for the train or for when you’re sitting in the garden. Use it for:

  • Basic panel adjustments
  • Pick and reject flags
  • Running slideshows on TV

A reason to subscribe?

One of the most obvious points is that Lightroom Mobile is only available with a Creative Cloud subscription. The leaked $9.99 per month standalone app had never looked credible, and including Mobile as part of the CC subscription always made much more sense.

  • For one thing, on a technical level some kind of cloud or network would be required to sync photos between desktop and iPad. Allowing users to sync via Dropbox or via a local network might be technically feasible, but would it be economic? In any case, sync is too critical to Mobile for the service to be outside Adobe’s control.
  • Just as important, you’ve got to see the iPad app as a benefit for existing subscribers and an inducement to subscribe to the CC. Whatever people think of subscription-limited software, that’s the way Adobe wants to drive its customers – and there’s got to be carrot as well as stick.

Only for iPad?

As someone who owns an iPad 2, I am pleased Adobe decided to Mobile would be supported on any iPads capable of running iOS 7, but plenty of people have questioned the lack of an Android version. Well, I certainly can’t be categorised as pro-Apple – quite the contrary – and yet I think it’s quote easy to defend the decision.

The truth is that whatever the wider ratio of Android and iOS tablets may be, the iPad is overwhelmingly the most common tablet owned by Lightroom users. As evidence for that statement, take this site’s stats which show 60% of mobile visitors here use iPads, 23% iPhones, and the top Android device, the Galaxy, accounts for just 3%. These stats are remarkably similar to Victoria Bampton’s Lightroom Queen site and Lightroom Forums, and I don’t think it’s unlikely that they must be equally representative of the Lightroom user base. After all, you’d have to be pretty weird to spend time on any of these sites if you weren’t a Lightroom user. So it’s a fair bet that upwards of 60% of tablet-owning Lightroom users have iPads, and I’ve no doubt Adobe have done plenty of market research along similar lines. Limiting Mobile to the iPad, at least for now, will be a cold business decision.

Pressing Reset

Before moving on to look at the features, it’s worth giving a tip for older iPad users, or users of older iPads. We all know image processing loves as much memory as it can throw at pictures, but the iPad 2 only has a 512k chip which has been upgraded in the latest generations of iPad. So if you  have an iPad 2 and experience crashes with Mobile (or any other app), there may be “low memory errors”. If you want to look at them, they will be listed in the iPad’s log files in Settings > General > About > Diagnostics & Usage > Diagnostics & Usage. But in any case, if you experience crashes I strongly recommend resetting the iPad. It doesn’t do any harm and may well solve low memory crashes caused by Lightroom mobile or any other app.

IMG_0664

Basic panel adjustments are available by dragging the slider along the bottom of the image. In many ways it’s remarkable.

An unbalanced set of features?

I like the features that Mobile offers. You can:

  • View images with the results of all the adjustments you’ve made in Lightroom Desktop
  • Apply basic panel adjustments by dragging sliders
  • Apply Adobe’s built-in presets
  • Apply pick / reject flags
  • Create new collections
  • Automatically sync pictures from the camera roll (it’s how I got the screenshots here)
  • Automatically sync your Mobile edits with Lightroom back to your desktop

Yet while that’s a handy set of features, I am rather disappointed that they appear unbalanced – saying it’s only a 1.0 is not that great an excuse, is it?

So what do I mean by “unbalanced”?

Well, it’s not that I expect to replicate Lightroom Desktop on the iPad. Apart from the lack of horsepower, I simply don’t think people use iPads in circumstances where they expect as powerful a range of features as on a proper computer. You’re in the pub, on a train, pretending to be sociable by sitting with the family as they watch some talent show on the television etc – and to be honest you’re only pretending not to be watching that drivel. I think it makes sense to limit adjustments to those found in the Basic panel.

And there’s plenty you can accomplish with these Basic panel adjustments and Adobe’s built-in presets. You can’t do proper B&W, or use your own presets, and the 1.0 excuse can apply to gradients and local adjustment brushwork which would seem very suitable to touch screens. But for the kind of editing you might do on the iPad, Adobe have provided a good range of adjustments.

IMG_0655

Lightroom Mobile includes the Basic panel adjustments from Develop but only allows you to flag pictures – not rate them or apply other metadata. It’s as if if offers the features that are the most difficult to code, but fails to provide the easy stuff.

The imbalance is that you wouldn’t just use iPad time for making basic adjustments – you’d do Library as well as Develop tasks. While you’re enjoying your second pint, or when they changes channel for the other talent show, you can happily review your pictures and decide which to keep or reject. So Mobile lets you swipe up and down to apply pick or reject flags – great. But that’s all it offers.

The lack of star ratings seems a glaring omission as I think people typically use flags and ratings in concert, and it’s good that Adobe are going to add ratings. Flags identify which pictures to keep or reject, and then star ratings further refine the keepers. Coloured labels are a less serious omission, but I find it hard to explain why they aren’t there.

Similarly I doubt people would use iPads for much metadata entry. Applying keywords seems too serious for iPad time, but you can’t even edit existing captions or fix typos.

It’s all Develop, not much Library. The technically-difficult features are there, but the quick win Library features are very thin,  and that’s why I continue to feel the app is unbalanced.

What good is it if there’s no colour management?

The iPad doesn’t offer colour management, so you are going to be disappointed if you expect to use Lightroom Mobile to fine tune your pictures. That doesn’t make the app useless, as I’m sure some will claim.

Mobile is for the kind of quick and dirty adjustments you do when you’re half drunk or stuck waiting for the train home. You don’t do those? Well, I don’t really believe you, or at least I don’t think you’re representative. Most people do have time away from the computer when they can make rough adjustments and try things, and it’s pretty sweet to get back to the big computer and see those adjustments have been automatically applied to the pictures. A bit of sophisticated colour-managed fine tuning and you’re done. So it’s about making the most of your time.

Slideshow

Running slideshows on the TV is nothing particularly new, and you can easily use a laptop to show pictures directly from Lightroom itself, but something I particularly like about Lightroom Mobile is using it for slideshows. Unlike the laptop, the iPad is rarely out of reach and is much less obtrusive. As I have an Apple TV, it’s just 3 or 4 swipes and the pictures are on my 40″ screen.

Mystery meat navigation

mystery_meat

Look for the three dots in the collection’s bottom right corner. Tap them and the panel flips over and provides access to its settings. Enable Offline Editing is probably the most useful and downloads the smart previews (boiled down versions of your originals) directly onto your iPad.

I’ve always argued that Lightroom’s interface is unhelpfully gloomy, and Lightroom Mobile retains the same grey-on-grey tones.

Also, like a lot of touch apps it adopts a “mystery meat” approach to navigation. The result is that a lot of its features are harder to discover – or read – than they might be.

Learn your gestures

Lightroom Mobile, like any touch-driven interface, is driven by swipes and taps – “gestures”. So another big tip is to make an effort to learn your gestures.

gestures

Hidden in the app’s settings is a list of gestures. You can also reset the tips here.

But this is where “mystery meat” bites back. Lightroom Mobile’s gestures are nicely highlighted the first time you use the app, but only the first time, and afterwards it’s very easy to forget the tricks and it’s not obvious where to find a list.

In fact you need to tap your account info at the app’s top left. This opens the settings – see what I mean about mystery meat – and you get access to a list of gesture shortcuts. It’s in very small grey text on slightly darker grey text, so

Where to get it

Lightroom mobile is available on the Apple App Store. You need:

  • iPad 2 and above
  • iOS 7

Is there an easier way to get text into Lightroom?


Updated video

Coming soon to my ListView plug-in, automatic updating from Excel to Lightroom. Have you ever seen an easier way to get text data into Lightroom?

For the technically-minded, it’s an Excel macro which reads the spreadsheet and communicates directly with the open Lightroom catalogue. In my former life as a financial IT consultant I used to do a lot of work with Excel’s VBA programming language, and the use of a custom formula is very similar to how Excel communicates with many business systems, so I’m confident it’s a solution which will work.

It’s worth adding that I’m not doing anything dubious like hacking into Lightroom’s SQL database or XMP files – the automation is entirely via Adobe’s authorised method, the SDK.

I will need testers – ideally existing ListView users. It will only work with Lightroom 5 and you would need to have one of the very latest versions of Excel – definitely Office 2011 on Mac as the previous version omitted VB. If you want to try it in advance of release, let me know by email or by adding a comment to this post.

Update

See List View 1.73 imports from Excel

Does it look OK?

I’m going to post something rather interesting later – a video showing Excel writing directly to Lightroom without any text files – but the other week I read an article on the BBC web site’s responsive redesign and so before recording the video I thought I’d do a quick bit of site redesign. And when you’re obviously smart enough to update the live site itself with pretty major changes, why bother taking the sensible method of making the changes in private on a test web site ? So naturally enough, I completely broke the site’s appearance on the iPad, and sorting it out took the whole morning. Great.

Anyway, I’m still fiddling with various details but please comment on anything that looks really wrong.

Making a photograph

Chuq Von Rospach’s post Photography Before and After — Sunrise at Merced National Wildlife Refuge describes the thought process behind editing one image that at first glance might not have seemed worth pursuing but came to be one of his favourites.

Make your processing workflow a habit. Poking at an image at random makes it harder to get a great image and impossible to reproduce the results on a different image later. You want to know what your workflow is and follow it, not spend time with each image wondering what to do next. As you teach yourself to follow a specific workflow checklist like the one above, you’ll find that “what do do next” will become obvious, and your processing speed will go up.

Reading this thoughtful article, I was reminded of Ansel Adams’s Examples: The Making Of 40 Photographs: Making of Forty Photographs. And as Ansel said “you don’t take a photograph, you make it”.