Should I put Lightroom Mobile to work now or see how much more creative time I can waste before I die?
I blew a whole year of creative post-production… here is why.
I downloaded the Android version of Lightroom Mobile as soon as it became available and taught Lightroom Mobile workflow in my Lightroom for Photographers class. Then my old-timer, big screen ego and absolute need to command every pixel at a 2:1 view took over and I put Mobile away. Wrapping my head around the idea of working on a tiny Samsung Galaxy S4 screen was simply beneath the dignity of a working artist who intently stares into a precisely calibrated 36-inch monitor with a near super computer energizing my creative juices. It takes me, Mr. Phone Fumble Fingers, a week to type a 100 character text (thankfully I can dictate with a voice recognition app) and I rely on my Wacom Tablet Stylus to perform all tasks Lightroom, Photoshop, and Illustrator. There was no way I was going to master gestures with my fingers, except for stoutly extending the middle finger, (world recognized symbol for its brevity and on point attitude) as I screwed up this slider and that. I was done with Lightroom Mobile.
Then a year later some stuff happened, and as usual, stuff happens in threes, a perfect storm workload occurred that changed my thinking about Lightroom Mobile.
One, I had to edit a big wedding. Two, I wanted to access desktop images from my hard drive so that I could also import them into Instagram, which is generally a phone only workflow (yes there are other ways). Three, on a long Nevada road trip I wanted to edit and share some phone images on social media and synchronize them to my desktop for further editing and sharing. So, Fumble Fingers took another shot at this app and with some foul words expressed now and then I finally got the hang of it. Now it is part of my everyday workflow.
The key is synchronization between your ‘ego’ machine and your hand held device be it a phone or a tablet such as an iPad. Of course, you need Adobe Cloud, which transfers image data between the devices and the process is quite simple. You make collections of images in the Lightroom collection folder and click on the sync button, which will sync the collection to the mobile device. The same thing happens with your mobile device and synching allows the image with the latest edits to appear with pixels moving over the cloud.
I have several folders of synced images; Samsung phone images as well as images that are on my main workhorse hard drive(s). Thus, I can take phone pictures, improve them with Lightroom Mobile, and synch them my desktop computer. Thus, if I want to work on my phone images in Lightroom proper, even Photoshop, I can keep those images in a synced folder, which has the latest edits and ratings and thus I can see them on either device. Just as you see your collection folders on your main computer, you will also see them on your mobile device. I did much of the basic edit work for the wedding in the mobile develop module while working in cracks of time; sitting in a boring management meeting, at lunch or just lying in bed at night when I cannot sleep (I obviously live alone and need a life).
It took some time to master the gestures but now I hit the right spot with the right number of fingers about 85% of the time. For example, tapping a collection activates the collection and then you can scroll through the collection to arrive at the image you want. To activate the development module simply tap the chosen image and the tools will open at the bottom of your screen. The Basic Module sliders behave exactly like your desktop version; blacks, whites, shadows, highlights, EV, contrast, white balance, exposure, cropping, and the presence tools vibrance, clarity, and saturation. Even the detail module is available and I use my “Bob’s Foolproof Workflow,” which is a best practices method that we teach in class to create strong baseline images.
I completed basic work for several of the wedding collections in my mobile device and polished them when I got back to my big machine. Getting the basics completed while off campus was a real time saver.
Much of my Instagram work comes from the DSLR, not the phone, and I perform my post-processing on the desktop. It is then a simple matter of synchronizing a collection of IG images to the phone and uploading them to Instagram. I’m not a skilled phone camera user (too many fingers again) but when I do capture something that merits attention, performing post-processing in Lightroom adds a visual voice to the work at best or in worst cases I can salvage an image. Sharing an image from Lightroom whether by e-mail, IG, or Facebook is a snap, and even old time pixel slayers like me enjoy the instant gratification of images on social media.
I’m now a Lightroom Mobile fan boy but there are limitations; no local tools (my fingers could never do that anyway) and it would be nice to have the HSL panel in a mobile version. One thing that merits the middle finger at times is that the sync process can be nightmarishly slow even when working over a fast network. I also have to flip the bird as the program sometimes goes clunky and precise changes can be problematic. In both cases, you will find yourself on standby until the data gods on both ends decide to handshake in rhythm.
There is of course more to learn about Lightroom Mobile, but this post is not a tutorial. I just want to encourage you to use the program so that you can increase your creative time before you run out of time.
All the best light,