Finally, serious Lightroom photo syncing on the iPad – no iPhoto required

Old workflow for getting cool pictures I’ve taken from my camera to my iPad:

Import photos into Adobe Lightroom. Throw out junk, make fixes, sort and rate. Choose photos I want on my iPad and export to a folder on my hard drive. Drag said folder into iPhoto. Make newly imported photos into a new iPhoto album. Hook up iPad for sync via iTunes. Place check mark on new album in iTunes iPad photo syncing tab. Wait.

New workflow for getting cool pictures I’ve taken from camera to iPad:

Import photos into Adobe Lightroom. Throw out junk, make fixes, sort and rate. Choose photos I want on my iPad, drag to Photosmith publishing service, hit sync.

What a great program, though it does cost $20. What I’ve just described, using the app to send pictures or albums right from Lightroom onto your iPad, is worth more than $20 to me. You also have to install a free Lightroom plugin on your computer to make to all work.

But the other side of the app is for doing field work on photos using just your iPad, which I have not done much in the past but may get more into. Using Apple’s Camera Connection Kit, you can import photos right off your camera into the Photosmith app, rate them, tag them, flag them for deletion etc. You can also directly upload them to a couple of services such as Facebook, Flickr and Dropbox. Then just get near your Mac, open up Lightroom and sync back to your computer. Sweet.

photosmith app screen shot

Annoying limits I’ve encountered so far?

You can’t sync iPad screenshots back to Lightroom. That’s because the iPad makes them in the PNG format which Lightroom doesn’t support. But a fix is coming.

It seems like you can’t use the iPad app to re-arrange photos imported from Lightroom among your collections or make them into a new collection and have the changes sync back to Lightroom. Only new photos imported¬†directly¬†from a camera to the iPad (or taken with the iPad, god have mercy on your soul) sync back to Lightroom.


Upgrade of Adobe’s Lightroom looks just fine

Adobe Lightroom 2.0 upgradeAdobe has released a major upgrade to its already pretty great digital photo library program, Lightroom. The 2.0 upgrade, available for $99 at Adobe’s site, greatly bolsters Lightroom’s image manipulation capabilities so you’ll need Photoshop even less. In fact, it seems like Lightroom can do almost everything you’d want to do to a picture to improve the image quality. You still need Photoshop to make alterations — cutting and pasting the dog’s head onto Aunt Marge’s body, for example. And Lightroom plugin wunderkind Jeffrey Friedl has updated all his great export additions to work with 2.0, too.

I’m just getting started exploring Lightroom 2.0. I have over 8,000 pictures in my Lightroom 1.4.1 library. So I’m going to start slowly because the program can, in theory, do far more damage to my library of previously “fixed” photos than more old-fashioned software like Apple’s iPhoto. How can that be?

In Lightroom, the program doesn’t actually alter your digital photo files when you make changes. Instead, it keeps track of which adjustments to apply to each picture in a separate database. Only when you go to print or export a photo does Lightroom impress those changes onto a file, and it still keeps the original pristine. In iPhoto and other programs, when you make a change — say to decrease the exposure and darken an overexposed shot — the original file is forever altered and imprinted with the change. Lightroom’s non-destructive editing, by contrast, means you preserve all your digital files as originally shot.

But the downside is that all your improvements only exist in Lightroom’s database. If the database goes wacko, you’re left with just your originals. So that makes me a little wary of jumping into Lightroom 2.0 whole hog a day after it’s released.

A couple of the new features I’m looking forward to using:

-Getting the most press so far is the adjustments brush. This allows you to make adjustments to only one part of a photo, a part you select Photoshop-style by painting it with the adjustment brush.

-The volume browser eases the job of sorting and organizing where digital photo files actually live on your hard drive. As I have been slowly integrating my old iPhoto collection into Lightroom over the past year, I’ve sometimes gone a little crazy trying to sort everything just as I want it. Just importing files into Lightroom’s library doesn’t move them anywhere.

-Improvements to printing, including an automatic sharpening effect that’s selected based o how you’ve chosen to print.

Elsewhere around the web, Photoshop guru Scott Kelby compares the new features in Lightroom 2.0 to his “wish list.” Rick LePage talks about his five favorite new features over at Macworld. And the Photo Darkroom web site has a quite lengthy discussion of practically every change in the update. And, of course, here’s Adobe’s official blog post of what’s new.

I’ll report back with more once I’ve played around with the update more.

Zenfolio, Lightroom and the art of digital picture maintenance

The intersection of everything with magical, behind-the-scenes connections continues to blow me away. Today, I’ve been admiring the photo archiving and display site Zenfolio along with a nifty, high-powered plug-in for Adobe Lightroom written by software consultant Jeffrey Friedl that makes uploading photos a snap.

The cool thing about Lightroom’s export system it that can be extended and altered by outside software writers. So Friedl’s plug-in grabs information from your Zenfolio account and lets you tailor your upload from inside Lightroom just the way you want. For example, you can upload pictures into a new collection or choose one of your existing collections as the destination. Friedl has written similar Lightroom plug-ins for SmugMug , Flickr and Picasa Web.

Now that Apple appears to have dramatically improved Aperture, the race for digital photo manager supremacy is on again. For example, Apple has rewritten the program to do operations like importing in the background, one of my big gripes about earlier versions. The ability to add extensible features in Lightroom helps give the program some added power and a continued leg up.

p.s. When I decided to write this post, I wanted to mention the trail of posts that had led me to Zenfolio and then to Friedl’s upload plug-in. Man, that was hard to reconstruct given how many sites and posts I appear to read in a day. Finally, after combing through my Firefox history, I jogged my memory that it was a post in John Gruber’s link blog leading to a post on the O’Reilly Inside Lightroom blog about online storage that made me curious about Zenfolio. Then a quick Google search for Lightroom and Zenfolio turned up the fabulous plug-in. Phew!