Lightroom CC on the 2018 11" iPad Pro

Today I’d like to talk a little on my new workflow using the 2018 11” iPad Pro. I’ve migrated from using my desktop and laptops for editing and posting photos to now using just the iPad. I had been hesitant in the past as the previous iPad’s did not feel like a laptop or desktop replacement. Today, Lightroom CC Mobile and the iPad Pro have become what they need to be in order to fully accomplish my workflow on them. This latest one ticks all the boxes, and with that, it’s all I have been using the past few weeks for my photography editing workflow.

2018 iPad Pro and Lightroom CC

I picked up the 11” iPad Pro this winter to be a part of my new digital workflow, along with the Fuji X-Pro 2 (review pending) that I’ve been using the past few months. I didn’t expect it to take over as I was just hoping to use it to supplement what I did on the desktop when I wanted to kick back in my recliner in front of the fireplace. I ordered the iPad Pro 11” version with a Bluetooth keyboard by OMOTION and a small inexpensive stand by Lamicall in case I wanted to sit at a desk - though I mostly use it with my feet kicked up and no need for the keyboard and stand. For photo editing, drawing, or writing, I added the Apple Pencil 2 and the Paper-Like screen protector. It’s just awesome as the protector makes it feel like I am using the Apple Pencil on proper paper rather than a slippery glass screen. And as a bonus, it hides fingerprints which show very easily on the new screen. I highly encourage the pencil + screen protector if you are thinking of going this route. I’ll list some apps I am using at the end of the post too, for those that care about that sort of thing! Onto the workflow.

Lightroom CC Mobile Workflow

Lightroom CC is so zippy on the iPad Pro. It launches immediately and the files are great to work with on that super bright and fairly color accurate display. (I have not calibrated it, but seems pretty spot on to me. I will do a test lab print down the road to see just how close - so stay tuned). I am not a heavy handed editor, so the workflow is minimal, clean, and fast. If I need to spot remove or heal something, the pencil makes it easy. Easier (in my book) than using my Wacom Bamboo stylus with Lightroom on my desktop. I feel as if I edit more naturally on top of the photo with the pencil, if that makes sense. There’s no disconnect between my eye and the tip of the pencil. And that’s huge for me.

For the new workflow, here’s my current (2019) process:

  1. Using the Apple USB-C to SD reader, import digital camera files into Lightroom CC Mobile on my iPad and apply my camera profile (under adjustments as pictured above). With the Fuji, I can also import over WiFi with their app, but I find the SD faster for the way I shoot then edit.

  2. Using the Apple Pencil to manipulate the sliders (easier than my fingers), I straighten (always it seems) the image, resize to 4x3, and add a couple light adjustments as you can see above. 99 out of 100 times, it’s:

    • Exposure correction if needed - hint: tapping on the word “exposure” decreases it by 5, while tapping on the number on the end increases it by 5. Makes it quick to edit.

    • Contrast (slight bump)

    • Highlights (reduced)

    • Shadows (enhanced)

    • Whites / blacks balanced

    • I do not touch any other sliders nor do I use any presets.

  3. Save the file for use.

That’s honestly it. Lightroom CC is so quick on the iPad that I can have a new image edited and ready on the iPad before I am logged in on the desktop. I’ve even done an edit from the car with the iPad, connected it to my cellphone, then upload the final image - all on the fly. That example is below. Boom.

iPad Pro + Lightroom CC Mobile final edit

iPad Pro Backups - a Bump in the Road

The only big caveat right now is backups. I have a work-around in place right now as iOS does not allow mounting an external drive directly through the USB-C port. I am looking at the LaCie FUEL 1TB wireless drive, though honestly, not ready to drop a couple hundred due to an iOS short-coming. I’d rather have Apple figure out how to use my existing 4TB USB-C externals with the iPad and take advantage of the port they have in place to do it right. Perhaps iOS 13 will address it.

Anyhow, my workaround is syncing my iPad files to iCloud (yes, I pay for the extra space to handle this) and DropBox and moving them over to the SSD drives whenever I jump back on the desktop. If it’s an important project, then it’s the first thing I do anyhow. But still, want to move away from the desktop completely when Apple figures this out.

I’d love to hear your feedback and comments below if you’ve been editing images on your iPad - or even if you’re just thinking about it right now.

Bonus - My 2019 iPad Pro Apps

Nothing to do with Lightroom, but some asked for what apps I installed on the iPad. So, here you are:

That’s about it, aside from the standard stuff that comes on there. If there’s anything you suggest, feel free to toss up a suggestion. I am always up for trying new things.