For a while, I've been interested in changing the way I edit and manage my photography. My methodology of doing things was fine, it worked but it was definitely a little antiquated. Implementing changes to your tools and workflow can not only improve efficiency and productivity but it can also inject some life into a process which may have become sterile and uninspiring. This was certainly the case for me.
My curiosity was also fueled by a confluence of new product releases. Photoshop for iPad was launched in late 2019, Lightroom CC (mobile) introduced some new key features and a shiny new iPad Pro was released earlier this year. I must say, the extra time afforded by a worldwide Pandemic also played its part.
A quick summary of the hardware
After unboxing the iPad Pro, the first thing I noticed is that it's very thin and light. I opted for the larger 12.9 inch form factor. The screen is a good size and one that I'm quite familiar with as my Macbook Pro is a very comparable 13 inches. The display is an IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen with an impressive 600 nits of brightness. I chose the 256GB storage option which I feel pretty comfortable with as I don't intend to consume or store a lot of media on the tablet.
The key apps I use
Lightroom CC (mobile) | Photoshop | Adobe Creative Cloud
1. After a shoot, I connect my SD card to the iPad via a USB-C peripheral.
2. At the same time, I also connect an external hard drive and transfer a copy of the images as a back-up. It's worth noting that unlike a regular computer, you cannot work directly off a hard drive with the iPad Pro. Files need to be copied to Adobe Creative Cloud (or other cloud service) or stored locally on the tablet.
3. I review all of the shots and ONLY import the photos I want to edit into Lightroom.
4. In Lightroom, I organise the images into an appropriately named folder and album.
5. I edit the photos in Lightroom. I may also transfer and edit the photos in Photoshop if there's some retouching required but the base edit is always done in Lightroom.
6. After an initial pass, I will usually take some time away and return in a day or so to review with fresh eyes. A second, third, fourth pass is where I refine and make improvements before sharing or delivering to clients.
7. My edited files are automatically synched to Adobe Creative Cloud where I can download and create another backup. You can also download and backup your raw and XMP files from Lightroom Mobile by synching them through Lightroom Classic on your desktop.
What I like
• I feel more connected to the image and there's a stronger sense of creation when editing on the iPad Pro because I'm directly interacting with the screen. The Apple pencil plays a big part in this while also serving as a great precision editing tool.
• The controls and UI in Lightroom Mobile are what you'd expect from a photo editor. It's all pretty intuitive and as someone who used to work exclusively on a desktop/laptop, I didn't find the change too challenging. Photoshop on iPad however is a little different and it took some time to get used to.
• The liquid retina display is amazing. Colour accuracy is great, images are bright, vibrant and beautifully rendered. With a refresh rate of up to 120Hz, the user experience on iOS 13 is buttery smooth, fast and very satisfying.
• Using Adobe Creative Cloud to sync my files across multiple devices and editing on the go. I can start an edit on my Macbook, jump in an Uber and pick up where I left off with my iPad or iPhone. For me, its also very important to check how an edit looks on a smartphone. I post a lot of my photos on Instagram so being able to quickly and easily view an edit on my phone before exporting and posting is very handy.
• Batch editing in Lightroom Mobile is extremely easy. It's essentially a copy and paste methodology.
What I don't like
• Apple products are expensive. Clearly, they have no qualms about milking the loyalty of their millions of customers. So it comes as no surprise that the iPad Pro is really freaking expensive. The Apple pencil alone costs $220 and its mostly made of graphite and wood! Is it worthy of the hefty price tag? Time will tell and while I'm happy with my purchase, I'm still allowed to bitch about it.
• There are a number of features missing in Photoshop Mobile. There's currently no raw image support, dodge and burn tools are missing, export options could be expanded, just to name a few.
• No support for left handed editing in Photoshop. I can live with it but I really hope this will come with a future update; us lefties are often forgotten.
• Interoperability between Lightroom and Photoshop is not quite there yet. It would be great if the desktop experience could be mirrored on iPad a little better.
For me, editing on a tablet has made post production fun again. So far, my experience with Lightroom Mobile has been very positive and I intend to commit to moving my entire workflow over to the iPad Pro. I'll still use my laptop for some things but I'm really enjoying this new way of doing things and hope to become less dependant on my laptop when it comes to photo editing. I also plan on getting into some video editing soon as I've heard great things about the app - Luma Fusion. Very interested to see how it all works on the video side.