My iPad Lightroom workflow. Is it ready for travel?

My iPad Lightroom workflow. Is it ready for travel?

I love my iPad Pro. It’s light, quick and it’s powerful enough to edit photographs on. Lightroom has improved significantly and has most of the features of the desktop application. But there’s still issues mainly related to connectivity that makes me question using it as a replacement for a laptop. Such as the inability to import photographs directly into Lightroom without first importing them into Photos and there’s no obvious way to backup these photos to an external drive. 

I’ve got into the habit of throwing my iPad into my camera bag when I’m out shooting a gig in London and it’s quickly becoming my default photo editor as I can start editing photos on the train home. Previously, it used to be frustrating, because it took so long to import the photos, that often I’d be getting off the train before the import had completed. That was until a new SD card reader was released with the iPad Pro.

There are two versions of the Lightning camera connection kit available. The latest version of the Lightning connector is significantly quicker. You can tell the difference because the newer version is the longer of the two. The difference in speed is noticeable. So make sure you buy the correct one.

My standard workflow with the old card reader was to import the photographs into Photos. I would then import the photographs into Lightroom. I’d then remove the duplicate in the Photos app (remembering to delete the deleted folder – otherwise they’d still be synced to iCloud). 

This wasn’t ideal. The import option in Photos would show all the photos in a single linear checkerboard of photographs. It would indicate previously imported photographs with a tick. Clicking import again would jump duplicates. However, having deleted all the photos, you would have no indicator of what photos I’d imported into Lightroom. You’d have to wait for the iPad to show the thumbnails of each photo and with the original import kit and iOS11, this was incredibly slow. My work around would be to delete all but a few photos.

Due to how slow this was, I’d delete the previous set of photos from the card before using it again. This was fine for nightly gigs. However, I found that this wasn’t suitable for a multi day trip as I tend to fill up each card.

With iOS12, Apple made it significantly easier to import photographs if you plan on using the card over multiple days without the need to leave the duplicates in Photos. There’s now a helpful daily view which allows you to select everything from that day and import them with two clicks

With the addition of the Shortcuts app. It’s also possible to create a macro to import the last photo import directly into Lightroom and then delete them with a single click. The workflow is significantly better.

So the iPad has improved.

But there’s still is a big problem. Apple’s insistence that you can’t connect a hard disk to the iPad. My workflow with my Mac was to copy the photos across to an external hard disk and for Lightroom to access them from the external drive. This would then act as my backup when I’m away. This then made it easy to transfer the files to my permanent storage

However, there is now a way round this connectivity issue. The ‘Files’ app now supports NAS drives. This has opened up the ability to import files from external devices by hooking them up to a WiFi hotspot. 

So after much deliberation, I’ve decided to travel with only my iPad. I’ll be away for just over two weeks. It’s the longest I’ve ever been away without a laptop. It will interesting to see how well I get on.