I’ve have been an Adobe Lightroom user pretty much since day one. As much as people will argue over anything these days, they’ll do so quite passionately over their chosen photo editing workflow and software. After getting the hang of Lightroom, I found it to be invaluable for both minor edits (which is pretty much all I ever do anyway – no Photoshop for me) and for library management. Mind you, this was back when I took thousands or tens of thousands of photos a year. So I happily meandered down the upgrade path until the horror of horrors happened; Creative Cloud. You no longer own the software, you’ll never own the software. My righteous indignation flared up at the thought of being held to ransom by a monthly subscription.
But that subsided with the passage of time, as it so often does. I decided to give the whole thing a go, mostly because I wouldn’t be able to use the RAW files from my fancy new Fuji camera with the old version I was running. I bought into the plan that offered LR CC, LR “Classic”, Photoshop and 20GB of cloud storage. Admittedly, I really didn’t have a plan. I only went with this package because of LR Classic, which was the same old product I’d been using so I figured it would be the right one. I never really used Photoshop at all, maybe once or twice for very specific edits that couldn’t be achieved in LR. The 20GB of space wouldn’t really be enough to do much with, with RAW files being as capacity hungry as they are.
I also didn’t pay a huge amount of attention to the desktop version of LR CC, although I loaded up the app on my iPad and my Android phone very quickly as the mobile editing (and generally not being stuck in front of the desktop computer) thing was very appealing. But as above, I didn’t have a plan on how all this was going to tie together. It’s been few months now since I cancelled my Adobe subscription and went off looking for alternatives. I found and tried out a few, but they all lacked the cohesive feeling I got with importing and editing on the PC or the iPad (or in some cases, importing and editing on my phone). Thinking back on my workflow, I believe I had two main issues;
- Importing RAW files onto the iPad was slow and cumbersome. Partly due to the iPad file system (or lack thereof) and partly due to the inability to directly import from a connected SD card. The latter of which has since been included into the LR CC app it seems. My workflow was to import the files to the camera roll using the iOS native import utility, then fire up LR and import to that from the camera roll. Then when everything was synced up with the cloud, delete the original files from the camera roll. Too many steps. It seems that now with the ability to import directly from an SD card, the RAW files are cached locally, but deleted once synced to the cloud. Seems much more elegant. The speed of import didn’t help either, with the files being copied over the USB2 connection from the card reader to the 6th gen iPad. So I usually didn’t even try to go through all that and just imported directly into LR Classic on the PC.
- My blinkered view on LR Classic ended up being my downfall. As far as I was concerned, LR CC didn’t exist on the desktop. Most RAW files never got near the cloud. Once I imported into LR Classic, I’d create a collection and share that with LR CC. Great, now I’ve got my photos in the iPad, on my phone, on the online editor, everywhere! Except I ended up creating a disjointed library management experience for myself that ultimately ended up making my LR Classic library very unhappy. I also had a couple of issues with LR Classic library file corruption that I’m not sure if I caused or if it was just a coincidence. I’d do some edits on the PC, do some more on the iPad and export for Instagram or other use usually from the iPad. Edits would of course sync back to LR Classic on the desktop but I had no system determined for when I was done with edits, what to do with the album, etc. So at the moment, I’ve got six years of photos in my LR Classic library in various states of completion.
At this time I was also using the amazing Lumafusion on the iPad for video editing, but that went sideways pretty quickly too when it became apparent that copying any amount of video onto the iPad was going to be an overnight kind of job. Even then, with only 128 GB to use on the iPad, I’d be running out of space pretty quickly. So recently I got to thinking about how I can fix this while also engaging in one of my favorite Covid pastimes, spending money.
My requirements are pretty basic. I want to be able to import RAW files to a device wherever I find myself, have those files immediately available for editing and know that all the cloud sync stuff is going to happen in the background without a lot of faffing around required. I also want to be able to maintain a local copy of those RAW files because as we all know, the cloud isn’t a backup. Ideally, I’d have a copy on a NAS at home. It’d be splendid if a NAS manufacturer offered CC integration. Ultimately, I’m seeing this as an opportunity to finally end my long and often complicated relationship with LR Classic. To achieve all this I’ve been looking at returning to the Creative Cloud ecosystem, like a dog returning to it’s own vomit in search of a tasty treat.
Fool me twice, shame on me. No Photoshop, LR Classic this time around however. My intention was to sign up to LR CC only with a healthy 1 TB of CC space to house my admittedly paltry collection of unprocessed RAW files. Then LR CC everywhere. It wouldn’t matter if I import on my iPad, my phone or the desktop as long as it’s all in one common library structure. Right? Right!?!
This still leaves me with issue #1. I thought I’d solve this by trading in my existing iPad and opting instead for one of the newer USB-C/Thunderbolt models with larger storage capacity to allow me to import faster and store more. From what I’ve seen so far, the newer iPad Air model appears quite decent. I also looked at the Pro model, but it seems an iPad Pro is rapidly approaching Macbook Air kind of money. Then I thought, why not just get a Macbook Air? As ever, I’m nothing if not decisive.
No matter what, I’m always going to be left with the small matter of syncing potentially gigabytes or tens of gigabytes of files to the cloud. That is what it is, it’s not something I can get around to get to the destination I want to get to. Hopefully by the next time I write a post here, I’ll have figured out the rest of the variables and sold my soul to Adobe once again.
Please feel free to share your ‘edit anywhere’ workflows below, there are only so many YouTube videos I can watch to help me work out the right way to go.