QUEST FOR MOBILE: Update on iPad Pro + Adobe LRM

Using iPad Pro with Lightroom Mobile- how pro can we go? 

The challenge I’ve taken on is to try to re-create our current Aperture workflow for assignments in the field using iPad Pro and Adobe Lightroom Mobile. Lots of folks have gone before and figured this out in one way or another but I’m sharing my own attempts here. A further caveat is there is so much we don’t know yet so please correct me as needed.

It’s been a few weeks now of shooting personal work on my new Sony a6300 and learning Lightroom desktop and LR Mobile. The first big question I had was: can I download SD cards with RAW files directly to iPad? And yes, that was a no brainer. Files go into Photos but LRM sees them and brings them into LRM instantly it seems. I need to understand that better as to why Photos is in the middle, but at least I did not have another import step.

The level of retouching available in the latest LRM is astonishing. Especially with the iPad Pro and pencil. Pixel level adjustments…! Overall, I’m really excited because for sure I can completely replace my Aperture workflow for all my personal work, using just iPad Pro and LRM. This means all my street photography, walk about and small projects.

The next big step was taking Lightroom and LRM into the field on a professional assignment to see how far we could go. My first assistant Demetrius Fordham and I did that last week for FedEx in Minneapolis. Interesting!

Before we started the shoot my question was if I could download CF cards directly to iPad Pro and get my RAW files on there. We did some tests in my hotel room And yes you can, but with some caveats, plus it took a few days of research and testing to get this to happen. Again, people out there are onto this, but there’s not a lot of information partly since Apple just began supporting RAW files. I went through a few wrong adaptor combinations until I got it right.

For CF cards, you need the Apple Camera Connector adaptor which has both a USB input as well as a lighting connection which you must have to power the CF card reader. That’s the main thing – the iPad can’t provide the power but with the power adaptor it’s all good.

Downloading CF card w/Raw files in hotel rom using Apple Camera Connector Adaptor

Downloading CF card w/Raw files in hotel rom using Apple Camera Connector Adaptor

Again, the download was fast and easy and LRM pulled the files in from Photos immediately. I could then edit (yes the old fashioned term meaning to select, cull, choose images, not retouch them) in LRM. Easy. And you can sync to Lightroom on your laptop or main desktop. You can even merge catalogs, similarly to Aperture.

So at this point I know I can download RAW files directly from SD and CF cards, sync all over my devices, edit (cull) and do corrections on my iPad Pro. Some cynics might point out that if you have to find power for your iPad to use the CF card reader it’s not truly a mobile field solution. But since you still have to recharge your iPad I’ll ignore that, plus we always have cigarette lighter power adaptors anyway. (UPDATE: We can use Mophies making this non-issue.)

And I also figured out that the iPad Pro 12.9” is my preferred size to work on. I just love the bigger screen and keyboard when editing.

ROADBLOCK: THE BACK UP PUZZLE

We also knew at this point after much research that there was not going to be an easy way to do simultaneous backups from the iPad as we must do on any pro shoot. Normally we have a copy of all the files going to the desktop/laptop and to 3 or 4 external drives for all files on import.

This then is the big roadblock for us on a professional production. We did find some tiny solid state drives online that seem to connect to iPad Pro but we’d need them in 500GB size at a minimum. The largest they had available at the moment was 64GB. We played around with a powered USB hub and other ideas but really the only easy back up solution is iCloud.

Given that on this shoot we shot over 100 GB per day (insane but…) and our internet in the field is a kind of slow Verizon wifi card, not to mention the hotel wifi speeds are usually pretty slow, the cloud is not going to work. And it won’t really work in the near future for this size shoot until the planet is covered with blazingly fast wifi. Even overnight.

You could workaround this by airdropping files onto your laptop or desktop and backing up to externals from there but that kind of defeats the exercise. Of course for my smaller projects the cloud works fine. So where does that leave us? In a very promising middle ground.

CURRENT STATE OF PLAY

Did I mention that we actually switched our entire professional workflow from Aperture to Lightroom in the first hour of our shoot? We did. Steep learning curve but it all worked out great.

So here’s what we can do that I’m absolutely thrilled about:

We can download our CF cards as usual in the field (We convert a van into a digital mobile lab with Eizo calibrated screen plus sometimes a laptop, sometimes a Mac Pro, power inverter, etc.) and it’s syncing with my ipad/LRM almost immediately. So we’ve changed to Lightroom and LRM and it’s terrific.

Demetrius can keep working on backups and downloads and I can sit nearby on breaks or back in my hotel room after each day with a glass of wine, editing on the iPad Pro and it all syncs back to the catalog on the laptop. This is a breakthrough for our workflow because I have to stay on top of the editing or I’ll never get selects pulled for the client at the end. Truly, that’s brilliant!

Plus the iPad Pro is just fun. Did I mention the pencil and pixel level image correction? To sum up, the iPad Pro is a terrific field workflow solution with LRM for all my personal work. And we’ve found an amazing time-saver for the pro workflow by having the whole project sync to the iPad Pro for easy editing and corrections.

Apple and Adobe working together is powerful good news for photographers and filmmakers. I’m sure I’m tapping only a fraction of what’s possible at this point. And it’s only going to keep improving and probably pretty quickly. It’s a process. I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Digital Tech/First Assistant Demetrius Fordham downloading CF cards in Lightroom to a laptop in our digital mobile van.

Digital Tech/First Assistant Demetrius Fordham downloading CF cards into Lightroom to a laptop in our digital mobile van. ©Doug Menuez using iPhone6s

 

Sunday
18
September 2016

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RESPECT THE LEARNING CURVE: Further notes on my iPad Pro/LR Mobile Journey

“Respect the learning curve,” a saying I learned from engineers inside Apple back in the early 90’s when I complained about some complex new software. The other saying they had was “you have to waste an hour to save 10 hours,” both very wise and true. Once you put the time in to learn, productivity soars.

And that’s where I am now, on that steep part of the curve, where it feels like an acid trip – flashes of complete lucidity and understanding in between hours of confusion. So all you read here is likely wrong or incomplete, please bear with me.

The good news is I have both iPad Pros (both sizes) set up and running with LRM and syncing with my desktop, as well as my phone. This flexibility is simply the coolest thing about the process so far. Yes you can download RAW direct to the iPad it seems but I am waiting for the thunderbolt adaptor which should come today so I can try that. Meanwhile I’m downloading to the laptop and synching to LRM.

Forgive me all you LR maniacs, this is all new to me, BUT it’s freakin awesome to go back and forth. This is cool. I imported my raw/jpegs into Lightroom and synced with LRM. I went to the iPad and there was the collection, nice. I scrolled through and found an image to retouch and yes it was NEF, Nikon raw. I make my corrections, bw etc and then went back to the Desktop and boom, all there, very very fast. I understand this is done with instruction sets so only lower res jpegs are traveling, details…

For my previous workflow, we had Aperture on a laptop with a fresh library set up and would download the memory cards as we worked, backing up everything to three separate HDs at the same time. At the end, we’d copy the Aperture library to one of the drives which I could take with me for editing. If we were traveling on to another shoot or location, I could dropbox the updated library with all my edits for my studio to download and merge with our master Library (or fedex a drive), or on our return we’d merge. And we’d copy the RAW files onto our server when we return or via Fedex. So now, I’m going to try to replace or improve on that system.

We may be able to take the iPad Pro instead of the laptop if we keep it data free. I’ll go shoot, download the shoot, edit and so forth on the iPad. Since LR Mobile is syncing everything the “master” library/catalog is anywhere we want it to be it seems. I have to decide if I’m going to keep one catalog and separate shoots by collections, or make a new catalog for every shoot… tricky to get my head around that. But after each shoot we’d wipe the iPad clean. This assumes no shoot gets above 128 gigs or 256 gigs in case of the smaller one. And then comes the back up: I need to figure out how to back up in real time like we do now, as I don’t think I can connect HD’s to the iPad. That’s key. And the cloud seems unrealistic, even overnight, for as much data as we generate. Especially in some hotel in whereverville. Sometimes we are shooting 20, 3o, 50 gigs a day or more. Crazy I know.

So issues remain in regard to ICC profiles and color management and how much retouching I can actually do on iPad and what will likely get done in studio. If I can solve the back up in the field problem, then we’ll be exploring how far I can go with the iPad Pro. At some point it will make sense to bring everything back to studio for final retouching and exporting for delivery to clients but we’ll see…!

IMG_4703

Lightroom Mobile syncs across both size iPad Pros and iPhone 6s. Cool.

Monday
29
August 2016

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MY NEW PORTFOLIO V.12.2 2016

New port cover_500xI’m very happy to share my latest portfolio update: a mix of new commercial and personal work merged with some of my favorite projects here: http://bit.ly/21aoyD3  Many thanks to my agents at Stockland Martel for patiently working on this with me. I’ve been so lucky in my career to be able to collaborate on global brand campaigns for A list clients. That work is fun and satisfying because I’m being hired for my eye but also because it funds my personal documentary projects on subjects I care about. (see www.fearlessgenius.org)

The process of creating a portfolio is sometimes gut-wrenching. You end up doing a lot of deep thinking about everything you are doing and why, and probably that’s a good thing. I was reminded recently by a former student of an essay I wrote in 2009 about creating your “fuck you” portfolio; a liberating process to find your true voice by letting go of fear. This is about making a portfolio that shows what you truly, deeply, passionately love to shoot. And want to get paid for. The essay still rings true to me, despite all that has changed for photographers since: http://dougmenuez.com/on-chaos-fear-survival-luck/

TO SURVIVE AND THRIVE PHOTOGRAPHERS HAVE TO EMBRACE ENTREPRENEURSHIP

The idea is that if you are trying to make your living solely from your photography you can’t just follow the herd and present what is selling at the moment. Although that will get you started, perhaps, it won’t last as tastes change and ends up crushing your soul. You have to do the hard work to figure out what you see that no one else does.

Once you have refined your eye, you have to build a solid financial foundation and business structure to support your vision, like all entrepreneurs who chase a counterintuitive idea. Imagine a lifetime of satisfying, creative challenges. It can happen but it’s extremely hard, no different from a tech start-up in many ways.

The problem is that if you follow my advice you are more likely to fail. But if you don’t you won’t ever hit it out of the park and live the dream. You just can’t be for everybody, only the best creatives who get what you bring.

I’ve failed hard a few times and find that the path can be a more of a cycle that we end up repeating now and again. I’m still on the journey, learning new things as I face new challenges. But I know from experience that the reward for risking everything and pushing myself to grow is indescribably sweet and worth all the pain.

 

 
 
Sunday
06
March 2016

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Something to SAY

Legendary creative director John Doyle recently asked me to make portraits of kids who are working to overcome severe stuttering problems with the help of a nonprofit organization called Our Time, which John is rebranding as SAY: The Stuttering Association for the Young. I have an old friend who built a career as a top photojournalist despite a severe stuttering problem. From him I learned a lot about the challenges people who suffer from this disability go through and was so impressed by how he overcame his problem to succeed. Shooting kids is always a tough job. Even as a parent and someone who has always shot kids, I know from experience you can’t push things or try to control things too much. You have to be patient and open to the kid’s frame of mind, and try to connect. Essentially, you are a passenger on their train.

John said he needed a lot of portraits, all in one day to save money as the project was pro bono. In this case, we were talking about young kids but also teens. Which raises a whole host of other issues around self-esteem, identity, and general discomfort with self-image that are just part of the package of growing up. Add in a disability like stuttering, and I knew it might be tough to deliver the portraits I envisioned.

I wanted to connect emotionally with the kids and try to show their sense of pride and accomplishment for what they were overcoming. It was an exciting opportunity. John and I talked at first about photographing to seven or eight kids, then maybe 12 or more. I thought on the outside we could get to 15.

Then he asked if I could shoot 20 kids—in one day. Hey, I’m game for anything. But to connect with these kids and shoot a range of images in the time allotted with a limited crew and budget (the crew was paid) was a daunting thought, to put it mildly.

Then came the shoot day––big surprise: The kids came in and rocked the house. They burst into dance, they sang, they talked and talked. We had a blast! It was such a gift to meet them and be part of their world. And we got the 20 kids done, barely, as the natural window light faded and our studio time ran out. It seems the Our Time/Say program is working wonders with these bright kids. And I just got a lovely note from John thanking us and saying how happy everyone was with the pictures. It’s a project I’m extremely proud to have been part of.

Sunday
09
March 2014

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CICADA SUMMER

The strange subterranean world around us has opened to release the Cicada after 17 years and our yard is abuzz. My wife Tereza adores these creatures that terrify me.

To me they are red-eyed monsters. She gathers them up and lets them climb her arms, gets them out of the driveway to safety while telling me stories about playing with them as a child in Brazil. YIKES! But I have to admit, they are definitely cool looking. Scary but cool.

Monday
27
May 2013

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The Cause of the Global Financial Meltdown?

©2013 Doug Menuez
Apparently a new trend among tourists visiting the mighty Wall St. bull sculpture has been added to the previous fad to rub the bull’s balls. Now they do a head thrust. Go figure! This image is from a previous post about my recent shoot for Nikon’s new Coolpix A camera: SANDY, MEET NIKON; NIKON, MEET SANDY | DOUG MENUEZ 2.0: GO FAST, DON’T CRASH
Thursday
14
March 2013

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IN GANGNAM EVERYDAY IS GANGNAM STYLE

It took a billion hits on “Gangnam Style” before I finally got around to checking out the video. So I’m watching this crazy guy and catch some quick cuts of Seoul and wondering what the hell Gangnam Style means and something tugs a memory. This area where we were shooting in Seoul a few years back really struck me then as unusually hyper-stylish, expensive and fashionable. It was like Roppongi Hills meets Beverly Hills on crack. I was jet-lagged and flew in for two quick days shoot at Chaum, a futuristic longevity medical center. So I looked on google and yup, we shot in the Gangnam District it turns out. It’s real, forms a neighborhood on the South side of the river in Seoul, and the basis for the style driving Psy’s video. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gangnam_District)

For those as easily amused by coincidence as I am, here’s a quick look at the actual Gangnam of everyday in the streets around the Hyatt and at Chaum in 2 galleries below.

©Photographs by Doug Menuez/Stockland Martel

Tuesday
08
January 2013

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Farewell, Dick Clark (from Stockland Martel Blog)

Back in 2000, veteran creative director Jeff Griffith asked me to do Dick Clark’s portrait for his Atomic magazine interview. We showed up with my longtime stylist extraordinaire, Juliette Smith, at Mr. Clark’s Santa Monica Boulevard headquarters early one morning and were put in a waiting room so stuffed full of rock & roll  history and memorabilia that we couldn’t speak. Our eyes were bugging out of our heads as we tweaked on one sacred relic after another, the iconography of the religion of rock: an early Chuck Berry guitar; Little Richard’s first 45 rpm of “Long Tall Sally”; signed kit from the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Otis Redding, you name it. Plus, original jukeboxes stuffed with old records, posters, letters, clothing—just about everything that Dick Clark could gather to tell the story of American music and his own role in helping launch rock & roll through his seminal show American Bandstand. The collection continued down all the halls and throughout the bunker-like offices…

Read full post here >>  http://stocklandmartelblog.com/2012/04/18/farewell-dick-clark/

 

Sunday
22
April 2012

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MOSCOW PHOTOBIENNALE: “FEARLESS GENIUS” INAUGURAL EXHIBITION

Just back from Moscow Photobiennale- what an amazing experience! The Russians have a long tradition of scientific and engineering excellence and seemed to really appreciate my project on Steve Jobs and Silicon Valley in the Digital Revolution. My booth was mobbed the whole night and 600 people showed up to hear my lecture Saturday at Skolkovo, the new tech institute and business school modeled after Stanford and MIT. They want to build the next Silicon Valley in Moscow and it looks like they can do it. Education and history are so important in Russia, which are key themes in my work I hope to create dialog around here in the US. What Olga Sviblova has built with the Moscow House of Photography is so impressive, a stunning cultural landmark for photography. Also inspiring was the work of my fellow photographers. I was honored to exhibit alongside such great artists as Harry Gruyeart, Andrew Bush, Alec Soth, Alinka Echeverria, Stephen Shore, Ouyang XIngkai, hilarious madman Tim Davis, Sergey Shestokov, Jane Stravs and several others. Getting to know some of them and hear their stories was life affirming for me. The vodka, great food and the Metro – which is like an art museum itself worth the trip – were all a sweet bonus to the trip.

Wednesday
04
April 2012

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