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How do you manage workflow with iCloud and post-processing software?

zaudo

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Sep 10, 2020
3
0
A little bit of background
Tomorrow my first Mac arrives. Over the last few months, I have been lured into the Apple ecosystem primarily due to its sharing features. Firstly, I moved from Android to the iPhone 11, my first since the iPhone 6. Then, lockdown happened, and my daughter needed a tablet. We chose an iPad due to the Screen Time functionality, which worked better for us than Google's Family Link.

A few months later and we've all got iPads, and I've got a Watch and AirPods. The Family Sharing features are really great - we're sharing storage, app purchases, and Music and TV subscriptions.

The question
How do you all manage your workflow of post-processing combined with iCloud storage? Do you use iCloud to store only your originals, or only your edited photos, or maybe both?

My first thought is that I'd like to use iCloud to store all of our edited photos, then I can maintain a backup of our originals somewhere else. That way, the edited photos are easily viewable anywhere we like. But I'm not sure how this will work in practice.

At the moment I use Lightroom and Photoshop, but this may change in the future. For minor edits, I guess I can use the Photos app, that way both the original and the edited photos remain on iCloud, but with an edit history so that there aren't 2 photos visible in the library. I also have a MFT camera which I use regularly.

So something like this:

1) Take photos on our iDevices and other cameras.
2) Make small edits directly on Photos app.
3) For bigger editing jobs, download the originals, import into Lightroom/whatever, and export edited photos.
4) Upload edited photos to iCloud, and delete the originals from iCloud.
5) Back up all original photos from the Mac.

Honestly I'm a bit confused about the best way to do this. Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks!
 

Darmok N Jalad

macrumors 68030
Sep 26, 2017
2,961
13,101
Tanagra (not really)
First, welcome to the forum, it’s a great place, especially this subforum.

Second, yes, the lure of iPad is very strong. It by far offers the best and most user-friendly tablet experience, IMO. My wife thought they were silly at first, until I got her one, and now she uses hers for almost everything (and so do I).

Third, to your actual question, it really depends on how serious you are with photography. If you’re fairly casual, Photos might be all you really need. You can store everything there and let iCloud store everything in the cloud, which syncs across all your Apple devices, and then use Time Machine to make a local backup copy of your Photos Library from your incoming Mac. I use my iPad Pro almost exclusively for my photography hobby, and Photos for 95% of my edits, and my old Mac mini does this very backup scheme to an external drive. If you can find Photos satisfactory for your edits, then you can just do the occasional export of your photos to an external drive or folder if you feel the need for another copy. Some have said Photos can get corrupted, but I’ve yet to experience this in my many years of using it. Lastly, for edits Photos can’t handle, I open in Affinity Photo on iPad, make my edits, and export the final result back into Photos. This option also allows your iPhone photos to blend in with your dedicated camera results.

The alternative is to import photos to your Mac outside of Photos, and then only export your edits to Photos. You can use iCloud folders like any other cloud service folders, and that way you can sync your photo library to the cloud outside of Photos entirely, However, with such a move, you’ll lose Photos‘ ability to sync content AND edits across all your devices seamlessly.
 
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zaudo

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Sep 10, 2020
3
0
First, welcome to the forum, it’s a great place, especially this subforum.
Thank you very much for the welcome and the well-considered reply. I also asked on the official Apple forum, and although helpful I think they lacked the photography perspective that you have provided.

Second, yes, the lure of iPad is very strong. It by far offers the best and most user-friendly tablet experience, IMO. My wife thought they were silly at first, until I got her one, and now she uses hers for almost everything (and so do I).
Agreed completely. I only bought an iPhone as I haven't had one for a while, and I like to stay "in the know" and be comfortable on all platforms. But when it came to choosing a tablet, there really was no other option. The iPads are far ahead of anything else.

The alternative is to import photos to your Mac outside of Photos, and then only export your edits to Photos. You can use iCloud folders like any other cloud service folders, and that way you can sync your photo library to the cloud outside of Photos entirely, However, with such a move, you’ll lose Photos‘ ability to sync content AND edits across all your devices seamlessly.
I think this will work well for my dedicated camera - edit in whatever software I like, then export the edits to Photos on the Mac. I tried Lightroom CC but the actual photo viewing and sharing functionality is terrible. Photos/iCloud seems to be the best place for all edited photos. (EDIT: or Google Photos which probably has better AI... but let's not go there ;))

What makes this messy for me is when I want to edit photos taken on the iPhone in that dedicated software too, not just in Photos. I either have to export back to iCloud and delete the original on iCloud, or I have to have both photos appear in my iCloud library? That latter option really bothers me for some reason. With Photos as the app for viewing my final photos, seeing duplicates would really bug me. So I guess I have to go with the former and delete originals from iCloud and replace with the edited photos...

Lastly, for edits Photos can’t handle, I open in Affinity Photo on iPad, make my edits, and export the final result back into Photos.
Do you then delete the original too? I have considered this option (editing in Lightroom for iPad, or Affinity Photo, etc), but I don't think I can be comfortable enough doing so on the 11" screen of my iPad Pro. I'm generally a big-screen user - I use a 43" 3840x1200 monitor, and although the iPad is actually a similar resolution and probably better in colour accuracy, I find I'm more productive on larger screens.
 
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Darmok N Jalad

macrumors 68030
Sep 26, 2017
2,961
13,101
Tanagra (not really)
I have the 12.9”, and the extra screen real estate is quite noticeable. Granted, it’s a much bulkier tablet, but I make due. For edits, I will delete the original, but I’m a relatively strict culler of photos. I have a few years worth of RAW files on a drive somewhere, and I’ve found that I never go back to do more edits. Maybe I could stand to look back more, but I have a hard enough time staying current on my edits as it is! These days, it has to really be “worth it” for me to venture into an editor outside of Photos. With iOS 13, they added a lot more sliders, so it has become more powerful. The only thing the iPad version lacks is retouch tools, but that can be found on the MacOS version. I hope they add that to iOS as well.
 
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Invisible Elf

macrumors member
Jan 16, 2011
94
58
I shoot in raw + jpeg. I delete non-keepers and drop all jpegs into iCloud. I edit some pictures on the mac (lightroom so far, plan to buy capture one on next sale), and drop the edited photos into the cloud as well. Raws are only stored on the mac/harddrive.
 
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Ray2

macrumors 6502a
Jul 8, 2014
742
168
Lot's of approaches. Here's mine for consideration:

Lightroom Classic on the Mac, Mobile on the iOS devices. You probably know Classic. Its the hub for 99% of all photos, editing and DAM. LRCC on the Mac is used basically as an intermediary between Classic and LR Mobile. Its not really needed other than it feeds our use of Adobe's Portfolio app. The Mobile app is quite good. Editing capability is ok and improving. DAM is excellent+. Its leading attraction is it lacks many of the shortcomings of iOS Photos (naming, sorting, exif metadata, people never receiving invites to shared albums, complete lack of database management tools, ever changing, change seem driven by 'trending" rather than photography, nothing wrong with that but its frequently out of touch with what I want from an image database with sharing capability, LR Mobile is superb in this area).

Photos app on the Mac stores only edited files (jpeg) that are intended for distribution to our devices including Apple TV. None of these are in the cloud. They are sync'd to each device as they don't change all that much. For spontaneous album creation, we use Shared Albums, that's iCloud. The Camera roll is also in iCloud via My Photo Stream.

We travel 4 to 6 months each year. Typically lightning iPads only. LR Mobile is the default app. Photos on either our iOS devices or Macbook Air is never used. We have sites based on Adobe's Portfolio "service". Not the most intuitive product to use but works very well at hosting and sharing. Spontaneous/daily distribution is satisfied via sharing LR Mobile albums. Also works very well and very easy to use. Advantage of Portfolio is it puts all the albums in one place. Its free with CC. You might want to look into it. Cloud only, no app.

If it sounds like I'm not all that supportive of Apple's apps, I'm not. I came from Aperture, Apple's LR app and iPhoto, Apple's Elements app. They served me well. Photos on either platform does not provide what I need. I have also lost 4.7gb of files in iCloud. Apple genuinely (I believe) worked for 3 weeks to attempt to retrieve them, to no avail. As we were traveling, only about 3.2gb were backed up to disk. 1.5gb of files were lost. None of these were photos so no SD card backup. The adage "the cloud is convenience, not storage" should be taken seriously.
 
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zaudo

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Sep 10, 2020
3
0
@Ray2 Many thanks for your input.

I have always been a Lightroom Classic user but when testing out Lightroom for iPad, I was amazed at how fast it is. It's missing some features from Classic but not many. And as you say, the cataloging functions are far ahead of Apple Photos. I also played around with Portfolio as well as the ability to share collections to the web seamlessly. It's brilliant.

Ultimately, though, the Lightroom iPhone app lets down the entire Lightroom CC experience for me. It's slow and clunky. What's the point of having everything available on the cloud if viewing photos when on the go is slow and painful?

For me, I'm going to proceed with iCloud for edited photos, Lightroom Classic for editing, and backing up all originals somewhere else.

I'm happy to go in on iCloud, but like you I'm hesitant to rely on Apple Photos. I can envision problems with their edit history functionality down the line - what happens when they change algorithms for some edits, will they update your edited photos with the new processing, or will it break the edit history if you try to change the edits? Too many questions which are not answered, for me.
 
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Clix Pix

macrumors demi-goddess
I take a different approach; while I occasionally shoot images with my iPhone and rarely with my iPad, they are retained locally and do not go to iCloud at all. I do not use Photos at all, either. If I've shot an image on the iPhone that I want to do something more with, then I airdrop it to my computer and work on it in my editing program of choice, DXO Photolab 3.

Most of my photography is done with a Sony A7R IV full-frame mirrorless camera, and I also often use a RX10 IV "Bridge" camera; all images from them are reviewed and then I edit them in DXO Photolab 3. Once I've finished with them, the RAW files go to backup and I also back up all of my edited images on external SSDs. I don't keep RAW files on the computer once I've reviewed/culled/edited them, as they would take up too much space.

I don't think iCloud was ever meant to be an actual backup service, which is why I prefer to have my files backed up on external drives instead.
 
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