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By Jim Heid | Friday, June 07, 2013

The Practicing Photographer: iPad Field Workflow

When you think of using an iPad as a photo accessory on the road, chances are you think of using it in place of a laptop computer—for example, to store photos transferred from your camera’s memory card, and to edit photos using apps like Snapseed from Google.

Those are indeed popular tasks for iPad toting photographers. But the iPad isn’t actually an ideal tool for them, particularly if you shoot using your camera’s raw mode. Raw-format images deliver better quality and provide more editing flexibility than their JPEG counterparts, but they utterly inhale storage space—it’s easy to fill up an iPad with the results of an afternoon’s shooting. Then there’s performance. No iPad can crunch through raw-format images as well as a laptop can, and most iOS photo apps can’t work with raw-format images at all.

But there’s another way to put an iPad to work on the road: to assign metadata to photos, such as ratings, keywords, and even geotags that record where you took each shot. This is a great way to put an iPad to work in field: cull your best shots and do some essential housekeeping, but save the photo-enhancement tasks for a real computer.

This workflow is the subject of this week’s installment of The Practicing Photographer. Ben Long demonstrates a $4.99 app called PhotosInfoPro, which lets you perform those essential chores, and then export the results as a series of XMP metadata files that programs like Adobe Lightroom can read.

The Practicing Photographer: iPad Field Workflow

The process is straightforward. Use the Apple Camera Connection Kit to transfer photos to your iPad, but don’t delete the originals from the memory card. Next, use PhotosInfoPro to add ratings, keywords, locations, and other details while they’re still fresh in your head. Finally, email XMP files to yourself using PhotosInfoPro (or stash them on Dropbox or an FTP server). Then delete the photos from your iPad to free up space. You can work through a large photo shoot in less time than it takes to watch a rerun of L.A. Law on your motel room’s TV set—and it’s one less thing you’ll have to do when you get home.

There’s a secondary message to this week’s installment: Take the time to assign metadata to your photos, whether you do this in the field on your iPad or back at your desk with your favorite imaging software. It’s an unglamorous but important task that will make your photos easier to organize and find. You’ll find details on assigning keywords and other metadata in many lynda.com courses on Lightroom, Aperture, Bridge, and iPhoto. For an overview of the process, check out Derrick Story’s Organizing and Archiving Digital Photos.

Interested in more?

• Start a 7-day free trial at lynda.com • The Practicing Photographerseries at lynda.com • Ben Long’s courses at lynda.com • All Photography courses at lynda.com

Adobe and Lightroom are registered trademarks of Adobe Systems Incorporated in the United States and/or countries. Aperture, Apple, iPad, and iPhoto are registered trademarks of Apple Inc. in the U.S. and other countries. Dropbox is a trademark of Dropbox, Inc. Google and Snapseed are registered trademarks of Google Inc.

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