Join Ben Long for an in-depth discussion in this video Workflow with Lightroom for mobile, part of The Practicing Photographer.
- My photo workflow is based in Adobe Lightroom. I was a Photoshop camera raw Bridge user for years, and Bridge started to get a little stale and Lightroom kept getting better. I made the jump to Lightroom a few years ago and it's great. It does everything I wanna do. It gives me quick and easy access to camera raw based editing, gives me a very easy way to get into Photoshop, keeps me from having to open and save documents and mess with versions and things like that, and gives me database driven management that's very speedy and very powerful when it comes time to search for images that I've shot over the years.
So I built this workflow up with the idea that I travel. So I keep a desktop machine at home that has a bunch of drives on it and my Lightroom catalog and all that, but there are times when I wanna go on the road and so because of that my Lightroom catalog lives on this SSD. When I'm at home, this is my Lightroom catalog. When I leave I can just unplug it from my desktop computer, plug it in here and go. So not only do I have a Lightroom based workflow, I've got a Lightroom based workflow that's very portable, and that's turned out to be really nice, but then this came along.
The cellphone camera that's actually usable as a real camera, and that has complicated things because I shoot things on my phone and then there's a question of, well how do I get them back into my workflow at home? At some point I have to do a transfer and I have to import them into the right places, and if I've edited on the phone I've got multiple versions there. How do I manage all that? Then this came along, which means sometimes I wanna travel with this instead of my laptop and use this for post production and now with raw editing in Lightroom, this is actually a very viable post production tool as is my phone.
How do I get it all organized? Fortunately, Abode's been asking the same question, and so when they unveiled the Adobe Creative Cloud, they started to build the beginnings of a syncing workflow that allows me to have all of my images automatically going into the right places on my various devices. Over the last couple of versions of Lightroom, the last few bits have fallen into place, and this is now a very cool way to work. Lightroom is the basis for my photo editing workflow on all of my devices now. What's more, I don't have hassles of moving images around.
So I wanna walk you through my entire Lightroom portable workflow here. Obviously I don't have my desktop machine at home, but I've got my normal library so you're gonna be able to see my folder hierarchy and all that, and I wanna show you how you set up, you have to change a couple of preferences, how you get things set up so that all this happens automatically. First of all, this is how I organize my images. They live on a drive in a folder called images, and I organize them mostly by geography, but I do have some broader categories here. People, musicians, motorcycle rides, but for the most part it's organized by place.
I live in San Francisco, I shoot a lot of images there. So within this folder, again for the most part it's organized by date. I have a few folders in here that I need to organize. They're from before I made the switch to Lightroom, but I have folders organized by year, and within those I have folders organized by day. The reason I do this by date is that Lightroom does all this part for me automatically. When I import it automatically creates the appropriate sub folders to keep everything organized by day. So that's an important part of how I work. Here in Lightroom I see the same hierarchy over here in this pane.
I can go down here to San Francisco and open this up, and you see the exact same folder structure. Everything organized by day. So that's really great. I can stick cards in, import form my regular camera, and so on and so forth. When it comes time to shoot with my phone, I have Lightroom mobile on my phone. Which lets me edit images in there, and also allows things to automatically move into here, as long as I have it set up properly. So I'm gonna go into Lightroom mobile here, and it's just picking up wherever I left off. I was editing some images earlier.
If I come out here to the Lightroom preferences, there's a very important switch that needs to be set for the way that I've chosen to work, and that's this auto add photos switch. Notice I also have download full resolution, sync only over Wi-Fi. I believe those are defaults, I like those settings. Collect usage data, that's just so they can get feedback on what's not working. What auto add photos does is every time I take a photo with my iPhone, it's automatically added to Lightroom mobile. So I'm gonna go out here to the Camera application, just like I normally would, and I'm gonna take a photo here.
I got this kinda silly little still life that's gonna need some editing. So I'm gonna take a shot, and there it is. If I go into my Photos app, there it is right there at the bottom, just like it should be, but if I go into Lightroom mobile, look it's there also, automatically. Every time I launch Lightroom it goes to the camera roll, looks for anything new that's come along since the last time it was launched and automatically adds it. So now I can tap on that and do some edits.
I'm gonna hit my edit button here and looking at my histogram I can see my black point is a little bit off. So I'm gonna go over here to blacks, slide that down. I would like a little more detail on that black lens. So I'm gonna pull the shadows up to give myself, ah lookie there, some more contrast down in those lower tones. That's very nice. I've got some blown highlights. That's probably that over exposed highlight over there on the edge. I'm gonna crop that away. And just in general get a tighter crop here.
These are all ordinary Lightroom tools. I could do this same thing, get rid of that cord there, I could do all this same stuff on the desktop. I just happened to be doing it on my phone. So I could be sitting anywhere away from my desk enjoying this lovely portable editing workflow that I've got. Let me just make a couple more edits here. I'm sorry, I'm obsessively editing this image just for the sake of example, but I can't help it, I need to have it looking right. I'd like to add a couple of other effects here. I'm going to come back here to edit and hit this thing.
I wanna add a little vignette. So here's all of my normal post crop vignetting options. I wanna go to amount and throw some vignette on there. That's very nice, particularly since we're taking a picture of an antique lens there should be a lot of vignetting. I could if I wanted, even add a local adjustment. This is a new thing in Lightroom. I get gradient and radial adjustments. I'm gonna throw one in that the image doesn't really need, but I'm gonna throw it in just for the sake of an example of something. I'm gonna throw a linear adjustment in there that's gonna allow me to darken that side of the image and as you can see, it's wrapping it off.
So those are a bunch of edits. They look pretty good to me. Now, I'm gonna come back out here to my thumbnail view and you may have noticed there's a little blips going on in that cloud icon up there. This image is now being sent up to the Creative Cloud. All of my other devices are also connected to the Creative Cloud. My Mac is connected and my iPad. So it's moving the actual raw image data via the cloud into my other devices, and if you look here on the Mac right now, we did not pause there, it's already here.
Here's my image and boom, it just changed. There are my edits. So if I click on this image and go into the develop module, this is the image that I just edited on the iPhone. It's all of the original data. You can see here it's image 1914.jpeg, and if I look at my sliders over here, look there's that highlights adjustment, my shadows adjustment. When I got all excited because the shadows brightened up. Those are there. I can come down here to my post crop vignette.
There's that amount adjustment. I can come up here to my gradient adjustment and look, there's the actual gradient that I applied. I'm gonna delete that because it was unnecessary. That edit's going back up to the cloud. So if I give my phone enough time, that gradient adjustment should disappear form over here. If I was to fire up my iPad right now, I would see all the same things. So I've got all this really great editing sync going on, and now I don't have to go home and think about, oh what images are on the phone that need to be moved over here? They're already here.
Actually, what I need to go to keep things tidy is delete the image from the camera roll here, because when it's imported into Lightroom, a copy is made into the Lightroom library that's on my phone. So I now have two copies of this image on here. So I'm gonna go to photos and open up this image and delete it because it is still in Lightroom. So that's saving some space on my phone. So now I'm just kinda done with photos on the phone. In so far is my main editing workflow. I might move stuff back in there because there're images that I wanna keep on the phone for show or whatnot, but the main thing is I'm now using the phone to get things into Lightroom because then they automatically pour into all of my other devices.
Which I'm just finding fantastic. There's another preference change you need to make. If you see here, all synced photos, 34. So there are currently 34 images in my Lightroom Creative Cloud here, and if I go over to the phone and come out here I see Lightroom photos, 34. So there are 34 images there. Same thing on my iPad. The thing is, they're living in a single directory on my drive on my computer right now, and I don't want it like that. I want them put into my normal hierarchy.
My categories of folders arranged by date. I can do that if I set up a particular preference here in Lightroom on my Mac. I'm gonna go here to Lightroom preferences, and here where it says location, these are not the defaults. I have set these. Specify location for Lightroom mobile images. I checked that and set it to my images folder to a folder that I made called Lightroom mobile sync, and I put a space in front of that so that it always appears at the top of the directory.
So everything that comes from the cloud is going into that folder. What's more, because I checked use sub folders formatted by capture date, and this date format, they are going into this folder right here into sub folders organized by date just like they go when I import things from a card from a regular camera. So if I come down here and look at that folder, here in my images folder, Lightroom mobile sync, that's that folder that I specified. I can open it up, and look, here's a 2016 folder, and here are folders organized by date.
Just like I wanted them. The problem is they're not quite in the right place. So I could, I'm not gonna do this right now, because I actually am on the road right now and I'm wanting to keep certain things in certain places, but here are some images that I shot today actually, and I would like them to go into the Oklahoma folder by date. So if I open up my Oklahoma folder, and I say the Oklahoma folder because we're in Oklahoma right now. I can pick up this folder and drag and drop it down here into the 2016 folder, and it will actually move the images there.
So it's a very very easy way for me to take images that I've shot on my phone, see them all together here in this one are in Lightroom and just start dragging them off into the appropriate parts of my Lightroom catalog and they all just fall into exactly where they need to be. It's a really great system that's working really well for me except for one little detail, and I've talked to Adobe about this. They say we know, we're on this. This may be fixed by the time you watch this video. Right now, if I go to this all synced photos and delete an image here on my Mac from Lightroom mobile, it will disappear from my different devices.
Similarly, if I delete an image from either of these devices it will disappear from here. However, if I do the same thing in this Lightroom mobile sync folder, that doesn't happen. The changes I make to this folder don't filter back outwards. So when I move this folder into the place where I want it to go, it's not going to actually be removed from the cloud. I'm going to have to go up and do a separate step for that up here in this all synced photos thing. That's really not actually a hassle. I can do that very quickly. I have not found that to be some horrible workflow deal breaker or anything like that.
It just is this extra step that I need to take, and it is a step that is going to be cleared up in future versions. In other words, there's not true sync going on right now. The computer's kind of the master, and in some ways the others are slaved to it. Where as we want everything actually to just be an independent agent that's syncing with the other. We're almost there, but even without that, I'm finding this to be a fantastic way to be shooting with my mobile device in the field, having full editing in the field, and all of my data going right back into my workflow in exactly the way that I want it.
I'm a big fan of Snapseep as an image editor. I think it's a fantastic editor. It's free, but I'm amazed now that with raw editing in Lightroom, with gradient and radial editing in Lightroom mobile, I'm pretty much just staying in Lightroom mobile for everything I do, and it's great to come home and find all those edits there waiting for me. If you haven't checked it out, and you're a Creative Cloud subscriber, you've already got Lightroom mobile. So it's worth taking a look into setting these preferences, these particular ways, understanding how things sync. You may find that your mobile integration with your desktop environment can become much much easier than it is right now.