Travel photography and editing with the iPad Pro

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I had posted on this topic awhile back and wanted to revisit it now that I have some more experience with the iPad Pro and Adobe Creative Cloud suite. At home I have a 15" MacBook Pro essentially set up as a desktop device using a hub and old Thunderbolt Display.

Previously, I dealt with my travel photos on the road in one of two ways. Sometimes I'd lug along the laptop, and go through the nightly ritual of downloading images off the card to the internal drive and immediately backing them up on an external drive. I'd then cull and edit photos on the laptop. For other trips, I took a bit more risk and just left the images on SD cards. I had tried a couple of portable backup solutions with a Raspberry Pi, a Hootoo Tripmate, but these are kludgy and only work at USB 2.0 speeds in general. My more modern cameras all had the ability to generate local Wi-Fi networks or use Bluetooth to send images to mobile devices for a quick edit. In this case, I'd usually load a RAW up into Snapseed, edit, and share with friends and family.

However, no matter what I did, when I got home I'd have a big pile of images left to be edited in Lightroom Classic. I'm very busy with work and family activities and as such don't have nice blocks of time to edit all of these photos huddled away in the basement. I've gone months and months without getting back to these photos! I think the iPad Pro (11-inch in my case) finally offers a solution for me, albeit a bit roundabout. Here is my workflow:

  1. iPad Setup- I specifically do not have my iPad photos set to back up in iCloud, which I do with my phone. I don't want big image files immediately trying to backup to the cloud.
  2. Download photos to the iPad- The newest iPad Pros have a USB-C port for charging and peripherals. You can use any old card reader with USB-C and it is recognized. The iOS mandates that photos can only be imported to Camera Roll, and possibly to the files app. I import all of my RAW files (NEF, ARW, dng) into the camera roll.
  3. Cull images- Not as easy as in LR, but pretty straightforward. If I think it's an image I even may want to edit but could be thrown out, I mark it as a favorite. If there's no heart, it gets deleted.
  4. Upload to Adobe LRCC- I have the LR CC app on both my iPhone and iPad. It really took me awhile to wrap my head around where these files all reside with this software in the mobile environment. First, I upload images from the Camera Roll to LRCC app. This is done from within the app after you give it permission to see the Camera Roll. Highlight all of the images it detects, and they are COPIED into the app. So now you have 2 copies of each RAW on your device. I also keep all images on the XQD and SD cards during a trip. So after the images are in the LRCC app, I delete them from the Camera Roll. I have the LRCC app set to back up the full size RAW files to the Creative Cloud. This is done over Wi-Fi whenever a network becomes available, and can be done in chunks depending on network speed. Whether it's backed up or not doesn't affect your ability to work on the files in the app. I create a Collection for each trip, or each part of a trip. You can then create a Folder which is just a way to group Collections, NOT a traditional folder to hold files.
  5. Edit photos in LRCC- The LRCC app is somewhat limited in scope compared to LR Classic on a desktop device or laptop. The features I really miss for my limited needs are batch processing, and panorama and HDR merge. However, the adjustment tools are pretty well featured. Global and local adjustments are pretty much identical to LR Classic. Local adjustments are actually easier for me using the Apple Pencil rather than a mouse. Cropping, geometric corrections, vignette control are the same. There are numerous profiles to choose from, including the camera specific profiles for the files, as well as Adobe profiles.
  6. Export photos from LRCC- As I said above, I clear out the Camera Roll after copying images to LRCC. Now I export edited jpeg's to the Camera Roll, either full size or 2048 pixels on the long side for social media. These I'll keep on the device for future enjoyment as well.
  7. Connecting with Lightroom Classic- This part was a bit tricky, because again, it's somewhat opaque how Adobe handles files until you do some internet research and trial and error. First I had to sync my LR Classic with the Adobe Cloud. For some reason, it was perpetually trying to establish a connection with the cloud, unsuccessfully. Apparently there are issues with some wireless networks that impedes forming the connection initially. So I actually had to run an ethernet cable to the hub, at which point it connected to the cloud account. Now it works over my home Wi-Fi. This issue has been documented by other users as well.
  8. Loading RAW files to Lightroom Classic- Here I had 2 options. First, I could import images directly from the cloud. Second, I could plug in a card reader and import my images locally. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to sync the status of edits from the cloud with the locally loaded files, so I chose the first option. To find your files in the Adobe Cloud, you need to be in the Library module and look under Collections in the left panel. Under the parent collection "From Lightroom CC" all of the Collections you create in the LRCC app will show up. Open the collection and you'll see the images. Next, in Lightroom Classic, I create a local file folder by my typical naming convention. Next, highlight all images from the CC collection, drag and drop to the new folder you've created, just as you'd move files normally. Now there's a catch. Classic is treating this as importing from another drive. So the RAW files are left intact in Creative Cloud. Also, while the files will show up in your new local folder, they aren't actually saved there until the sync status in the upper left corner states that the sync is complete. Once complete, you can delete the RAW files from the cloud. However, this cannot be done from Classic. I had to go back into the LRCC app on the iPad to delete them.
  9. Edit RAW files in Lightroom Classic- Here's where it was all worth it. All of the edits I did in the app migrated flawlessly into Classic. Here I could fine-tune things as needed on the big monitor, and do my photo merge tasks as well.
Next post will detail an additional use I've found for LRCC.
 
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As I'd mentioned in the prior post, I don't get a lot of time to edit images at home. When I do have free time, I'd prefer to spend it with my wife and kids. The past two trips I was able to edit everything on the iPad while on the road, but the volume of photos was pretty small. However, there is sure to be a time when this won't be possible. I have now become more fully aware of the Smart Preview.

I had a big backlog of photos from our family trip to Italy, hundreds of them, many keepers but not all even after an initial cull. They've been sitting in the basement waiting to be edited. So after a bit of reading some online guides, I decided to create Smart Previews for the images I wanted to edit on my iPad.
  1. Create a new collection in the "From Lightroom CC" parent collection folder.
  2. Highlight all of the images I wanted to edit.
  3. Go to Library--> Previews--> Build Smart Previews
  4. You'll know which of your RAW files have an accompanying Smart Preview as it's described under the histogram in the Library Module of Classic. It will say Original + Smart Preview.
  5. Now drag and drop all the images from the local drive into the Collection you've created under "From Lightroom CC".
  6. After the Sync is complete, which is automatic and pretty quick with these small files, they will all show up on your mobile LRCC app.
  7. As you edit the images on the iPad, these edits will constantly be updated in your LR Classic catalogue, as long as your computer is powered up with LR Classic running while network connected.
This is totally awesome as I can be sitting with her watching a baseball game or sipping a glass of wine. While we are relaxing after getting the kids to bed, she's cruising her favorite websites, I'm working my way through these photos. I can even knock off a few more while laying in bed.

The main limitation I'll run into with the Creative Cloud is that you only get 20GB of free space with the monthly $9.99 subscription. I'm sure to have more photos I'd want to load to the cloud at times. In that case, I may have to pony up for more space. I'm not sure if I'll be able to get files from the iPad LRCC directly to LR Classic over USB while preserving my edits, bypassing the cloud. I have 256GB on my iPad, more than enough for my typical shooting volume. Guess that's something to try out soon!
 
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So, now that I’ve jumped on board with the Pro 12.9/1tb, I used it the first time last week for its main purpose. I take the team photos for our neighborhood swim team, and the new role had completely choked my old computer. Thursday night I took just under 650 images. For this I’ve been shooting jpg fine instead of raw. I plugged the usb-c cord into the Z6 and a few short minutes later, the transfer was done. I did this while at the weekly “after party” at Sonic (yuck). The kids were pretty intrigued since they could see their photos as I was culling.

Culling - I’ve been doing this in the native iPad photos app. I create an album for the keepers and then import those into LRCC.

Because my goal is to cut the “desktop” out of my routine altogether, I upload (or sync?) with the CC storage under the album created in LR.

At this point, aside from the missing tools you mentioned before, I’m very anxious to see how the addition of bonafide file handling can allow the use of LR for one of its main purposes - DAM. If we can use the CC version to manage our storehouses of images on external drives, I may never need a desktop again!! This will undoubtedly require some changes in the CC version of LR, but hopefully it’s just a matter of configuring the module for that platform. Maybe iPad OS will allow us to even transfer directly into LR without having to first load into photos!

I’m glad I read back through this thread, as I had forgotten about the duplicated images thing. I’ll have to go back through the photos app and delete the original imports!

I can’t wait for the public beta to go live!!
 
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Glad there is someone else doing this besides me!

For me the ideal situation would be as follows.

1. Attach hub to the USB-C port on the iPad.
2. Plug in card reader and external SSD.
3. Transfer images from card to SSD via Files app.
4. Open LRCC and "import" all images into the app, while leaving actual RAW files on the SSD, rather than moving them into the app sandbox on the iPad.
5. Generate Smart Previews that reside in the LRCC cloud.
6. Cull in the app while saving original files with the X flag marking the non-keepers.
7. Create sub-album with keepers.
8. Edit images at my leisure on the iPad while away from home.
9. Once I get home, move RAW files from external SSD to my home drive array with backups, through LR Classic.
10. Since I created Smart Previews, all changes should port into Classic from the cloud to accompany files I moved. This still allows me to edit files either through Classic on my desktop, or in LRCC app on the iPad, all sync'd over Wi-Fi.

Right now, though I haven't tried it, it seems that I need to load all of the RAW files to the iPad, then via Wi-Fi into the cloud storage, then migrate them again over Wi-Fi onto my local hard drives, then delete from the cloud via the LRCC app. Pain in the rear! We will see what Adobe decides to do, and whether they will free us from having to pay through the nose for the privilege of using their cloud storage as a bridge for image transfer.
 
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Agreed. The ability to shuffle images around without having to rely on the iPad’s internal storage, and having to use WiFi to get them onto external storage is pretty cludgy. Plus, as useful as Photos can be, it’s far from ideal when processing hundreds of images. I’m searching every few days for more info on the iPadOS beta release date.
That said, I’m blown away by how fast transfer is when I plug my camera into the usb-c port. We’re approaching July, so hopefully we’ll see the beta sooner than later!
 
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Agreed. The ability to shuffle images around without having to rely on the iPad’s internal storage, and having to use WiFi to get them onto external storage is pretty cludgy. Plus, as useful as Photos can be, it’s far from ideal when processing hundreds of images. I’m searching every few days for more info on the iPadOS beta release date.
That said, I’m blown away by how fast transfer is when I plug my camera into the usb-c port. We’re approaching July, so hopefully we’ll see the beta sooner than later!

You should consider a card reader given your intended usage. I have a combined SD and XQD reader, and it is blazing fast to move images from the XQD cards. Significantly faster than a cable direct from the camera to the iPad, once you start moving RAW files. I got one from Amazon for around $30.
 
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You can certainly do a lot of this with the new iPadOS. Accurate color correction would still need to be done on a color calibrated workstation, but any head start you can make while traveling is certainly a good thing.
 
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You should consider a card reader given your intended usage. I have a combined SD and XQD reader, and it is blazing fast to move images from the XQD cards. Significantly faster than a cable direct from the camera to the iPad, once you start moving RAW files. I got one from Amazon for around $30.

I have one. I’m just amazed by the speed just from the camera.
 
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You can certainly do a lot of this with the new iPadOS. Accurate color correction would still need to be done on a color calibrated workstation, but any head start you can make while traveling is certainly a good thing.

Agreed, for the most part. Very little of my work ends up at a printer. Once the new OS is official and there is a list of supported monitors, I’ll jump on that train, for sure.
 
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The beta is available! I downloaded and installed the profile last night. I’ve only just booted it up, and as of this moment, it isn’t reading my portable drive. I’m getting the same “data not accessible” message as when I tried attaching it before. I wonder if it may still require formatting via Mac OS. I hope not - I don’t have a Mac!! Seems to recognize my XQD reader, which is also a hub. Maybe that’s the issue with my portable drive? Oh well, I’ll enjoy playing with it a bit this morning...
 
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The beta is available! I downloaded and installed the profile last night. I’ve only just booted it up, and as of this moment, it isn’t reading my portable drive. I’m getting the same “data not accessible” message as when I tried attaching it before. I wonder if it may still require formatting via Mac OS. I hope not - I don’t have a Mac!! Seems to recognize my XQD reader, which is also a hub. Maybe that’s the issue with my portable drive? Oh well, I’ll enjoy playing with it a bit this morning...

Hmm wondering if it is a formatting issue as you describe. Not sure if there is a Disk Utility equivalent for iPadOS. You may need to purchase a pre-formatted drive. Everyone seems to like the Samsung T5 SSD's and they've been recognized by earlier betas, so that's one way to go. Look forward to hearing more from you how this new iOS works out!
 
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Hmm wondering if it is a formatting issue as you describe. Not sure if there is a Disk Utility equivalent for iPadOS. You may need to purchase a pre-formatted drive. Everyone seems to like the Samsung T5 SSD's and they've been recognized by earlier betas, so that's one way to go. Look forward to hearing more from you how this new iOS works out!

Seems like Samsung, G Drive, Glyph, and Lacie have all been used successfully from what I’ve read online. We’ll see. I’m going to take a few minutes to play with it again...
 
I can highly recommend the Samsung T5 series of external SSDs! LOVE mine! I forget now, since it has been a while since I bought a new one, how they are originally formatted, but I think it is in the format which works for either a Windows machine or a Mac. In my case I promptly formatted to what would be most useful for me since this is an all-Mac household, but I can imagine that many people would prefer the ability to go either way.

It would seem to me that since people who have iPhones and iPads may not necessarily also have any sort of Mac computer and be fully involved in the Apple “ecosystem,” that even with the beta Apple would have to allow for this and probably yes, going with formatting which is more generalized and which can be read by either a Mac or a Windows machine will be effective. A device such as the Samsung T5 which already comes equipped this way would be the perfect solution.
 
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I can highly recommend the Samsung T5 series of external SSDs! LOVE mine! I forget now, since it has been a while since I bought a new one, how they are originally formatted, but I think it is in the format which works for either a Windows machine or a Mac. In my case I promptly formatted to what would be most useful for me since this is an all-Mac household, but I can imagine that many people would prefer the ability to go either way.

It would seem to me that since people who have iPhones and iPads may not necessarily also have any sort of Mac computer and be fully involved in the Apple “ecosystem,” that even with the beta Apple would have to allow for this and probably yes, going with formatting which is more generalized and which can be read by either a Mac or a Windows machine will be effective. A device such as the Samsung T5 which already comes equipped this way would be the perfect solution.

Yep. I reformatted using exFAT, which is both Windows and Mac friendly. Works fine, now. I guess soon I’ll have to buy an external ssd drive, since I’ve gotten all high tech

My next step will be trying to attach a series of eSATA Lacie RAID drives with all my old images. Fist step will be incrementally moving files around and reformatting the drives to exFAT. Then the usb/eSATA adapter/hub will supposedly work fine. That should be nice and tedious!
 
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