Glastonbury and iPad Workflow (pt1)

I’m sitting here writing this the Thursday after Glastonbury and (just about) starting to get over COVID (It hit me hard on the Tuesday evening after testing negative on the Monday, I tested positive on the Wednesday morning).

We had arrived at Glastonbury a week ago to this wonderful (not) notice.

Closed pits for all headliners as displayed in the press tent

This was a first and to be honest, although we expected a couple of closed headliner pits, we did not expect all of them to be closed. I think this tainted my experience of the whole weekend.

The wording there is fairly specific “closed pit” not “no photography” so my colleague and I headed out into the crowd at the end of Sam Fender’s set and took up a position. The Fuji’s with the 100-400 are quite easy when working in a crowd, being smaller but of course do slightly suffer with resolving power and focusing (X-T3) compared to full frame bodies and faster 400mm lenses. We stayed long enough to ensure we got a reasonably varied set of images before fighting our way out of the crowd and filing.

The strategy worked….

Billie Eilish images images on the 3 UK “broadsheet” websites.

So what was the workflow here? As I mentioned in my last post it followed my basic routine:

  • Create Collection in Lightroom for job
  • Import from memory cards direct into collection
  • Select and edit photos in lightroom
  • Add titles
  • Create a collection in ShutterSnitch for the job
  • Share images to ShutterSnitch collection which completes the captioning and sends via ftp
  • Archive the images
Folder and Albums in Lightroom Mobile (showing all 4 days)

You can see from the above image, I created a folder for the whole event and then a separate Album for each day, using my standard naming format.

Creating Folders and Albums

The Lightroom Mobile tool is basically a web tool, wanting to store all of its images in the cloud. This is a real issue when speed is of the essence (and when you have a slow internet connection – which for some inexplicable reason at Glastonbury this year we had the worst connection at a major event I think I have ever known). There are 2 key steps to managing this.

First, when leaving on a trip I always pause the sync.

The next step is on each folder, I enable the Store Locally option. To do this requires that there is an image in the album so if pre-shooting, I copy an existing image into each of the albums and then the Store Locally switch is available from the three dots options to the right of the album name

Now I am ready to import the images from the camera card into the Album (inserting the card/card reader into the usb-c slot normally displays the import options. If not the import is available in the lower right). The bottom line is the images do not touch the apple photos app at all. They go direct from the card into Lightroom and they may be RAW or JPG with no issues. In fact the Billie Eilish images were all processed from Fuji Raw (RAF) as I thought I might need more shadow & hilight recovery. The only difference between importing RAF and JPG is that in the import window, JPGs are previewed whilst RAF are just shown as empty boxes (no preview).

Importing images into the current folder.

In this post I have covered how I set up the iPad / Lightroom Mobile and import the images. The next post will discuss selecting & editing the images.

As I finish this post I have just had a conversation with my supplier about my first X-H2, apparently I can collect it next week. Well that has cheered me up from my COVID slump..

Until the next post…

Mobile Workflow Overview

I mentioned in my last post that these writings would be more about my workflow, thoughts and practices and less about camera equipment reviews.

The next few posts will revisit my mobile workflow and the use of the iPad as a very serious tool (laptop replacement), starting with this very basic overview.

A very poor iPhone image of my iPad in its keyboard case

My mobile (travel) kit consists of;

  • IPad Pro M1
  • Gold and Cherry iPad keyboard case
  • Apple Pencil
  • Apple Magic Mouse (Series 2 preferred)
  • Lightroom Mobile (Adobe photography plan inc. Photoshop)
  • ShutterSnitch
Lightroom Mobile & ShutterSnitch running in a split screen

One of the key improvements over the last couple of years of using the iPad has been the multitasking (various split screens, slide over etc) and later posts will show how the applications can work together in a similar way to a full blown computer (mac or otherwise).

The workflow outline:

  • Create Collection in Lightroom for job
  • Import from memory cards direct into collection
  • Select and edit photos in lightroom
  • Add titles
  • Create a collection in ShutterSnitch for the job
  • Share images to ShutterSnitch collection which completes the captioning and sends via ftp
  • Archive the images
Lightroom during the image selection and editing process

The next post will start to detail the intricacies of using Lightroom efficiently and outline some possible pitfalls (there are a few!).

Until then.

New Way Forward (and Cannes)

It’s fairly obvious I have been neglecting this blog. Actually thats not true. I have not been neglecting it, I have been avoiding it. The question is why and what do I want to do about it?

I might be a poor writer but I do enjoy it (it took me 5 or 6 attempts to pass what was the English Langage ‘O’ level when I was at school (scraping through as I took my final ‘A’ levels). I also enjoy passing on knowledge.

When I started this page, it was the early days of the Fujifilm X-System, the early days of mirrorless and this place seemed the ideal place to put down my thoughts and experiences, passing these on so others (you dear reader) can learn from my errors and not make the same mistakes. Well that was something like 8 years ago and the technology world has changed as has the camera market with most of the manufactures having mirrorless products. Online review sites have exploded with video review sites getting far more views (and influence) than written sites with the actual experience of the reviewer seeming to be way less important to both the manufacturers and viewers.

Fujifilm has just announced the X-H2, it sounds like a very capable camera which I have not seen. The reviews are promising and so I have one on back-order with my supplier and if what I read is true, it will put us X-system users back on a more level playing field when it comes to Auto-Focus performance. However, when I get it, I wont review it. I might comment on some technology that makes my life easier but I will no longer review any product because basically, what interests me is what makes my job easier, faster etc.

If you want reviews stick to the sites that make reviewing part of their business. They get large follower counts, large followings means free review kit and good advertising revenue. How good they are as photographers, how deep their experience of photography and the “sharp end” of the photography business has very little to do with a good review site (and as far as the manufacturers are concerned, the only real measure is the number of followers). If this sounds like a gripe, it’s not. I get it. Who cares that I (or other photography writers) shoot more images in a month (or maybe even a week) and get them published around the world. That does not matter if only a few hundred of people know.

So I am going to stick with the “sharp end”, what counts. How do I work? What are my business practices? Can I improve how I (and you) work?

The next few posts will be about my new mobile workflow and the use of (the rather fast) M1 iPad Pro . In the meantime, here are a few of teh 6000 images I sent out from 10 days in Cannes, all shot on Fujifilm and edited/sent from the iPad.

ShutterSnitch Metadata Editor – A quick look

The last two posts on mobile workflow have raised a few questions from readers on how I deal with metadata. I thought I had dealt with it in previous posts (admittedly a long while back) but re-reading them it seems I had not covered everything.

Therefore this is just a quick overview. I am actually looking at running a course or two on this mobile workflow in the UK this year in conjunction with theBPPA. If you are interested, please let me know and I will send out booking information if and when…

A quick apology for the image I have used in this post – it was all I had on the iPad at the point I outlined this post.

From our last post we are at a point where there is a collection of images in ShutterSnitch either with or without metadata in the title field.

The first issue is, where do we start with our data? Can we start with Photomechanic? The answer to this is yes we can. I export the XMP from PM into Dropbox and then on the iPAD, export the file into ShutterSnitch.

Select file in DropBox / Export / Copy to Shutter / Create a Preset

The i Icon on the top toolbar switches ShutterSnitch to the Metadata Editor.

The Metadata Editor

As shown in the above images there are a number of options along the lower screen. The left-most tool is the Preset Editor

The choices are just to select a preset or use the Edit button to edit the presets available (the usual iOS left swipe to delete) or click to edit. Hold down to duplicate an existing preset.

The blue circle tick to the right indicates wether the field is applied in the preset, so if using the title field from Lightroom this would be unticked next to the Title/Object Name. Notice the %%titleObject%% – this is a variable, much the same as the Photomechanic variables although they are named differently.

If using Photomechanic , the variables will need replacing. There are far fewer in ShutterSnitch. They may be accessed from the tool hi-lighted above. Below is a typical preset driven by the Title/Object Name field with the date automatically added also.

Note: It does not seem possible to add variables into the keywords at the moment.

Headline, Caption, Keywords and other metadata in the preset.

If driving the Title / Object Name from Lightroom, the above preset could be applied to all images when selected and a quick check as you flick through will reveal all of the fields set.

Once the preset is created, other tools are available in the editor. Quick select strings (which are field sensitive, so create them in the Title field if that is where you plan to insert them) may be created and selected.

This enables a list to be built, maybe copying and pasting from a website before the event

Use Split Screen on the iPAD to Copy/Paste into Quick Select Strings

The final options are Shortcodes.

Press and hold to edit the available lists. Creating new Sets and editing are fairly straightforward.

In use Shortcodes are slightly less usable than in Photomechanic as after entering the code (however many letters you use), the Icon (tee-shirt) needs a quick click for the software to expand the code to it’s full length. Shortcodes do, however save on spelling errors and incorrectly titled subjects.

All that is left after adding the metadata is to send using FTP or other Actions which are well covered towards the end of this post.

There are many more options are settings but hopefully this will get you moving. As always, please ask any questions in the comments to that others can also learn.

Lightroom Mobile 5.1 Workflow & Exporting

Last week I wrote about importing photos into Lightroom directly from the camera/card. This week I will continue with the next stage of my workflow. Yes I have written so much about iPAD workflows, this is because unlike my Mac workflow, my iPAD workflow is continually evolving as the software and platform develops.

The result of last week’s post was a named album of images for a project. All with just the basic copyright metadata and no other information.

My iPAD Pro is fitted with the keyboard cover and I also use the pencil with it. These 2 additions make important improvements to the workflow.

The first step is to pause the syncing (in fact I do this before the import as it is safer if the images are on the iPad only). Next enable a filter – to show only unflagged photos.

Click on the first picture and switch to edit mode. If the image is to be rejected hit the X key (just as in the desktop version). Due to the filter, the image will be hidden and the next image displayed.

If the image is a keeper, adjust as required, switch to the metadata view (the i icon) and type the basic subject in the title. (this will be picked up later – if many are the same, use cmd-c to copy the text to be pasted into the next image). Switch back to edit and press p to select (tap in the image area). The image is flagged and the next image is displayed (due to the filter).

Repeat until no images remain.

What happens next depends on your requirements. Maybe switch the filter to rejected, select them all and delete before un-pausing the sync to upload the images to the cloud and desktop.

To transmit the images to the newspapers or agencies, switch the filter to display flagged images only. These are the keepers.

Note: As an aside, the fastest way I have found to select all the displayed images is to hold down on a single image until it is selected, then click the box in the upper left corner. It changes from a minus sign to a tick. The share button can now be clicked to export the images.

Each export option contains it’s own settings which are far more detailed than in previous releases. Use the More Options to expand the settings. As each has it’s own settings it is now possible (for example) to configure the Save to Camera Roll to save a smaller image with a watermark suitable for social media whilst the Share To… option exports an image suitable to newspapers

For Social Media
For newspapers via shuttersnitch

Another big step forward is the share to now enables a direct export to a shuttersnitch collection.

I will not go into detail into shuttersnitch again as I have covered it so many times in detail. However I will show that the Title we added in Lightroom Mobile has indeed transferred and if used carefully, the metadata presets can build a full caption.. I will go into the shuttersnitch metadata editor in the next post.

A preset without a title but with a caption built from the title and capture time….
Image with caption

Once captioned the image are sent using the relevant action(s). See here for exporting actions…

This workflow shows images coming direct from the camera into Lightroom, on to the end recipient without hitting the photos app once, make the whole process faster and easier to manage.

Let me know your thoughts, I would like to hear from you.

Julie

Direct Import from Cards in Lightroom Mobile

At last! Its been a long while coming but finally we can import images directly from a camera/card into Lightroom Mobile on an iPad!

Apple’s iOS13 update opened up the Files application, allowing users to access data on external devices such as USB sticks, Hard Drives and of course Cameras/Cards. It took Adobe a little while to catch up but during December, Lightroom Mobile 5.1 was released which added the ability to browse locations in files.

Much of the information I have seen online says that it is possible to access the card directly from the import button after inserting it however I have not found that to be the best way to work. My workflow is to import the images directly into an Album for the project.

Add photos from Files into a specific album

Selecting from the Album Options … I Add Photos and select From Files. This enables the location to be selected, normally the Untitled USB device, browsing down to a lower folder. Once all the images to be added have been selected, click Open.

Preparing Import!

Lightroom then looks as though nothing is happening but take a look at the cloud icon where the sync progress is displayed…

It takes a while to prepare the import and then, one by one, they start appearing!

Hey Presto!

It’s a very simple process, one that is not the most obvious way of importing the images but it makes a huge difference to the iPad workflow, now mimicking more closely typical laptop workflows.

It means less reliance of the iOS native photos app and less housekeeping required on the iPad. In fact with the other updates in the latest Lightroom Mobile (major changes to the Export function , which I will detail in the next post), the photos app may be bypassed completely. Stay tuned!

IPad Workflow (Again!) – IOS11 & ShutterSnitch

It’s been a while since my last iPad (Pro) workflow post and I thought it was time to share how it’s changed and how I have moved on.

This time last year I posted how I was using the iPad for all of my editing, captioning and sending from out on location, I detailed how well it was working at Cannes 2017. Then something changed. Specifically IOS11 came along.

IOS 11 was touted as the great update that will make the iPad a real contender for replacing the laptop (which I had already done), it would make running multiple programs easier, moving information from one app to another would be easy. Yep – this was the “update we were waiting for”. So in September/ October last year I installed it… and the crashes started… I assumed it was Lightroom not updated for 11 so I waited for an update.. then I assumed that maybe IOS11 did not like my SD reader so I got the new and latest. Still it crashed, still it would not read JPG images off of the SD card.

Finally I gave in and went back to an Apple Store “Genius”, showed them the crashing. They got out a brand new empty iPAD Pro with IOS11. Again crashed reading the JPG’s. Dug around and found an iPAD in stock with IOS10 installed. Bingo, 900 JPG images imported no problem. Back to IOS11 – crash! SO they replaced my iPAD with the “new” one running IOS10.

This replacement worked for a couple of days, until it decided not to allow me to connect to the mobile network unless I updated to IOS11 – It seems once your account has updated to the latest OS there is no way back.

So here I was, left with a £900.00, powerful, fantastic device that would not pull more than 156 Fuji JPG images from an SD card.

The problem was reported to Apple back in November 2017. If you want my support case number, it’s 100365002050 its been open since then. My support engineer (yes I have an assigned engineer at apple), whom I contact after every update to let him know that I have tested it again and its still not fixed. No still not fixed after Apple have logged in and connected to my iPad 3 times. They have had the files that I am trying to import, the crash dump files from my iPAD, a video showing the crash. They have acknowledged the problem, my engineer is very pleasant but the bottom line is 6 months later and my iPAD will still only import 156 JPG images from an SD card (RAW / RAF files are fine).

My iPad is not totally useless though, I did write this on it. Actually its not that bad – I still use it when traveling for non-urgent work where I would work in RAW and I also use it for smaller news jobs where I will be importing less than 150 images or where I will be using WiFi to transfer the images.

ShutterSnitch is still my main stay here. With this simple switch to enable the Fuji WiFi on the app, I can either connect as normal and transfer selected images or I can wirelessly tether to the iPad and transfer every jpg as it’s taken.

The images import into a collection where I can edit them using the recent in-app-purchase of image adjustment to do basic crops and corrections.

I can apply a metadata preset and edit meta data using the Metadata Editor in-app-purchase

Before exporting via FTP or Dropbox to wherever I need them.

ShutterSnitch has come a long way over the past few months meaning for live news work, it is now a one-stop-shop. (So I no longer have to work with the unsupported PicturePro) .

I am more than happy to do a detailed review and technical post on ShutterSnitch if anyone is interested – let me know if you do!

As I am just finishing this post, Adobe Lightroom Mobile has just been updated, my initial look indicates its almost there in terms of capabilities now – cloning and custom presets are supported! I’ll look at this in a future post also. Let me know what you would like to know about first!

I look forward to your comments.

Julie x

IPAD (Pro) Workflow

Its been quite a while since my original iPad workflow post. Software has improved and the speed of the iPad Pro has totally changed the game so of course, my iPad workflow has moved on quite a bit.

The first stage of my workflow continues to be ShutterSnitch.  In my opinion this is still the fastest, most reliable method of using the WiFi connection to get the images from the Fujis on to the iPad. When I am sending just a few images (or sending a few at a time as a job progresses) , I can select on the camera and transfer individually via WiFi with ShutterSnitch instantly saving the images to the iPad Camera Roll. The problem comes when I have Job that involves many hundreds of images, all of which have to be looked at, selected then basic edits made, metadata (caption etc) added and sent. WiFi is just not fast enough for this many images. This is the problem I faced when travelling to Cannes for the annual film festival.


As I was flying and would also be carrying my kit most of the day I really wanted to keep weight to a minimum so I decided to stick with the iPad and develop a workflow that would work.

My iPad is a 256GB/4G model and so has more storage than my old MacBook, even so I was paranoid about storage at the start and wanted to ensure the iPad only contained the images that were  “keepers” so my workflow actually started with the camera configuration. I decided to shoot JPG only on to 64GB cards in both slots – slot 1 as the primary storage and slot 2 for backup. At the end of each job (or day) I would ingest the images to the camera roll from the slot 1 card using the standard apple camera connection key. The card was always wiped after ingest. The card in slot 2 remained in place, building a backup of all the image files, only being switched out to my suitcase as it became full. (Note: RAW image files could be used but would be slower).

When working on a full Laptop/Desktop it is common for most press photographers to use Photomechanic to select and caption first before transferring only their “keepers” to their editing software (photoshop or Lightroom). Because of the way iOS protects files and stops apps interacting on the same data, my workflow is actually the reverse. I use Lightroom mobile to select and edit before captioning and sending in PicturePro.

Lightroom Mobile (on Creative Cloud).

There are a number of key settings / stages to make this reasonably quick.

Mobile data: Ensure “sync on mobile data” is turned off.  (Tethering to a phone brings a whole different set of issues as you really do not want LR to try and synchronise all images until back at base).  An iPad on its own 4G connection is a real advantage here and simplifies the sending process.

Collections: Keep a collection per job or day.

Auto Add:  Use the … next to the collection name to enable Auto Add to the relevent collection.

Switching to split view with the photos app running next to Lightroom as the images ingest from the card, they will be added too Lightroom at the same time (see you can multi-task on an iPad).


Speed Flagging: This enables images to be picked or rejected with an upward or downward swipe whilst in the editing screen.


Once the images are ingested, the card is cleared and put back in the camera. I switch to single image view and enabled a filter on the collection to show only unflagged images. I then swipe down to reject, skipping those I am not sure about until i get to the first image I want. Before I swipe up to pick it, I complete the basic edits – crop, curves, levels etc. and then holding the finger (or pen) on the screen I use the pop up to copy the settings (all settings excluding crop). Only then do I swipe up. The process then continues, swiping down to reject and pasting the edits, (hold down again), cropping then swiping up to pick going through all of the images.


Once at the end I know I have all the selects and rejects. I switch to the “All Lightroom Photos” selection, set the filter to “Rejected” and delete all the images.

The next stage is surprising! I go to the camera roll and delete all the images  just ingested (it’s ok! They are held within Lightroom now – its made copies in its database).

I now export the images from Lightroom to the camera roll (this is a slow process as there is a limit on exporting 15 at a time), selecting the maximum size option.  This leaves just the edited selected images on the camera roll ready for captioning and sending.

PicturePro

In PicturePro I make extensive use of base templates. Upon opening the correct image folder / date should be selected.


Load the metadata editor on the first image and load the relevant template and edit the data to suit. I then copy the data before using the save and next button, paste in the data from the last image, tweak and move on.  Each image that is annotated has a small icon on its lower centre (in grid view).


Once done I select the annotated images (hold to select a batch, double finger tap to add single images to the selection) and export using the FTP panel, resizing, renaming and saving the images in relevant folders as they are transmitted. Each image that is exported has a small icon on its lower right (in grid view).

Once Back at Base
PicturePro has stored all the captioned and edited images in folders which can be accessed via FTP. Lightroom will synchronise all the original images, with edits via Creative Cloud to the desktop machine. (But no metadata on them). I add the PicturePro images to my Lightroom to sit alongside the originals which I leave uncaptioned because I know I can find them via the captioned exported versions.

Conclusion

There are obviously advantages and disadvantages to this workflow. I find the iPad an extremely nice tactile thing to use, using the Pencil and Keyboard I can work on my lap, on the floor, seat, basically anywhere, much easier than if I were balancing a Laptop. Using the pencil on the image itself as a tablet is a joy with the keyboard folded back out of the way until needed for captioning. Batch editing is minimal though, I cant apply the same edit to 100’s of images in a single manoeuvre but I dont see this as a huge issue as I normally have to look at each to crop it as I want so pasting the settings as I crop does not really slow me down. Its always pointed out that iPads have no colour management. Correct, the screen cannot be calibrated but its a mobile platform, it’s not used in a nice controlled environment. Every day I am out shooting and editing in different light with differing ambient levels and colours, so is this really the issue many flag it to be?

Comparing the captioning between PicturePro and Photomechanic the main loss again is batch processing. In PicturePro I do have to check and paste the metadata into every single image but this does have the advantage of ensuring I think about every caption.  At the time of writing PicturePro doses have one or two issues. It will crash every now and then but with this workflow I do not lose any work – its more just having to restart the software (which is almost instantaneous). PicturePro also has image editing which I have used in the past for small batches when I need to be very fast but a bug affecting only the iPad Pro means I am waiting on a software update before I can do this again.

This post has been a long time coming, the workflow has been tweaked and will continue to be but it was working this way that I sent almost 3000 images over 10 days from Cannes so I think it works. let me know your thoughts, comments , questions.

Julie