After re-acquiring Nadia, the Nikon D90 this weekend, I was getting nostalgic of the images made in the past and reminding myself of ideas, tips, tricks and techniques that helped guide me through the years. These reminders are things that I wished I knew back then and can be applied at any time.
- Film photography one day, digital next day.
- Try more black and white. Perfect for almost every image.
- A prime lens is the best lens you can take with you.￼￼￼
- There is always something to shoot. Even if it is the same old thing. Try different angles and lighting.
- The iPad is an amazing post processing digital lab.
- Rotate your cameras for different shooting sessions. Use a different lens. Change it up.
- Drop social media. Who cares what they think?
- Enjoy the benefits of exercise, fun and photography. With trail hikes, or city streets stop and snap.
- Bad photos are better than no photos.
- Is this image good enough to print and hang in your room? No? Keep going.
- Street photography is best when the streets are active or not in a small town.
- Keep shooting, striving.
- Invest in photo software that fits your workflow, not the other way around.
- Maintain your website with a blend of your past favorites as well as your modern images. Share thoughts behind each image.
- Ask yourself why you shoot. Editorial? Documenting life? Memories?
- Photo walks are fun. Do this often.
- Photo road trips are worth it. Do this often.
- Going on on the photography road trip is a very productive practice.
- Go back to the basics with film photography. It makes us better digital photographers.
- Revisit older work with new eyes. Learn from it.
- Keep striving for that perfect image. You’ll never find it but, if you do, sell your camera and walk away.
- Stop wondering about other’s opinions.
- Master the art of composition.￼
- Stop buying gear, use what you have, master it.
Organize and archive your images now. Don’t wait until you have thirty years worth of images that have been stored on multiple drives, duplicated four times on each drive, uploaded to various cloud accounts, shared on social media. Save yourself the frustration and get it all together now. Organize on one massive hard drive and then back it up to a second hard drive too.
Photographers are an isolated lot and we desire to do things our own way, for our own edification. Naysayers will tell you that everything that can be captured in a photograph has already been done so why bother? Well I don’t subscribe to that. Going my own way has always been the goal and there will always be new, creative perspectives to be discovered.
We’ve allowed ourselves to forgo curiosity and exploring in favor of a skewed view of what it means to be self-taught. Let’s be honest, watching tutorial videos on YouTube, or imitating other’s work from social media platforms does not make you self-taught.
We’ve been programmed to squash our creativity by algorithms, “Likes”, and followers and have lost our ability to think for ourselves. Take the risk and explore or lose the chance. It’s time to disconnect ourselves from the algorithms, delete Instagram and innovate. We photographers are independent so why do we rely on superficial kudos from strangers?
Isolating myself from all of that has been helpful to me. The time it takes for me to develop an image I am proud of is better spent than time spent throwing something up on someone else’s platform. The best remedy for improving ourselves is investing more time creating for ourselves than consuming from others.
A straight line may be the shortest distance between two points, but it is by no means the most interesting.
I say try a different route. Go your own way, start a blog and add your personal thoughts along with your art. During down days, revisit your older work and revise, recycle into something new.
Think less of other’s thoughts and think more of our own.
I first acquired the Nikon D90 DSLR camera when it was released back in 2009 as a replacement for my beloved Nikon D200. The 90 was the first DSLR to feature HD video with amazing results. Nikon got it right from the start. However, that camera was short lived because after shooting a concert that night, I failed to zip up the camera bag completely. Metal and glass disagree with gravity and concrete.
Flash forward twelve years later and after a brief dive into Canon, I have acquired another D90 and it seems like I have never left it. I picked it right up and immediately fell in love. I added an all-in-one Nikkor 18-105mm lens that can capture macro, portraits as well as landscapes. I cannot wait to take her out to see what she can do.
Say hello to Nikita, the 1965 Nikon FT N 35mm film camera I grabbed today. She features a 50mm prime lens, and a 2x teleconverter. I also grabbed 2 packs of Lomography Metropolis and Purple 35mm film and cannot wait to break her in. She’ll be an excellent companion to Penelope.
I’m digging the new EXIF data in the Apple iOS 15 Photos app
Again, thanks to a very generous trade-in offer for my 2018 iPad and a discount program provided by my company, I have upgraded to this year’s iPad Pro. I even chipped in a little extra for the magic keyboard, pencil and Magic Mouse.
After adding a SIM card from my wireless carrier, this device is truly the best portable computer out there. During a recent trip to the mountains I could plan my hikes, geocaching and places to eat. After a long day of shooting during my hikes, all my images were uploaded to the iPad and ready for post-processing. Articles were published here while I was out and about and yes, Netflix was playing on it because hotel rooms have shitty cable tv service.
After the iPhone 12, and MacBook Pro, this makes the third significant upgrade in my tech devices that are future-proofed. That is to say, with their industry-leading specs and beautiful design, they will last me for a minimum of five years. And I cannot wait to put them all to the test.
Having journeyed the whole route of Route 66, the highway that runs through six states from Chicago to Los Angeles, the road beckons again. It doesn’t help that I live one block away from it here in Tulsa. There is a reminder everyday to get back on it and go. In the meantime, I have a lot of reminders as Tulsa is the final resting place of the creator of Route 66, Cyrus Avery. Tulsa is almost the exact center of the route and they have built it up as such with many markers and symbolism.
This weekend was spent finding more than a few geocaches along the route in Tulsa, including some markers I have not seen before. A reminder for me to keep going out and never stop exploring.
See this and more on my photography website.
Geocaching is the world’s largest treasure hunt. Using GPS coordinates, you can navigate to a hidden cache, sign the log, maybe grab some trinkets and then move on to the next one. Perfect for getting out and exploring places you ordinarily wouldn’t discover on your own. I can’t tell you how many times I went off in search of a cache and have been rewarded with the journey to it.
See this image of geocaching and more on my photography website.
Spent a couple of days in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge and already I am planning on a return trip.
See this image and more on my photography website.
I have a thing for murals. There is a lot of creative talent out there who are adorning walls with their art. This weekend while Geocaching, I came across a cache that gave a tour of some thirty murals in the area. This is a great way to explore your surroundings and take you to places you would otherwise ignore.
See this image above and more on my photography website.
Darkroom Labs, my photo printer of choice has just sent me scans of a few rolls of Lomography brand film and I am loving the colors.
See these images and more on my photography website.
When I first published this guide in early 2019 the goal was to simplify my post-process photography workflow using the 2018 iPad.
Now, with my newly upgraded 2020 iPad Pro, the hardware has improved and the photo software developers have taken advantage of it. So will I.
An iPad photography workflow has to include everything from importing your images, culling out the ones you don’t want, processing, and then exporting to hard drives, your portfolio or for printing.
Ideally, I want to trust that the iPad can take the place of my laptop as my personal photography developing studio.
The MacBook will be continue to be my main driver but I don’t want to take it with me everywhere I go either. I need the confidence to take my iPad everywhere I go for my next shoot or my next trip.
Now I believe I can.
We can now directly import photos from our memory cards, we have mouse & keyboard support, desktop-class web browsing, a filing system, connect to external displays, access and use external storage, and more.
Working on a tablet feels as comfortable as we do working on a laptop but with added benefits such as better battery life and support for mobile data connections.
Before, it was a challenge to import images into an iPad. We had to first import photos to the native iOS Photos app, then import into our software app of choice and then immediately delete the redundant copies to save space. This was a big hassle that hardly seemed worth the time, but we made do. Now we have access to eternal hard drives and a cloud-based filing system that will allow easier access to images.
Apple Photos has been fine-tuned for performance as well as simple editing and presentation of images.
Overall, the iPad operating system has been reworked to allow us to speed up the workflow and process our images faster.
Adobe’s suite of photography software has taken advantage of these improvements and once again, sets the standard. Coupled with their cloud support,images I take on one device is accessible to all my other devices almost instantly.
Other software developers like Pixelmator Pro, Darkroom and Affinity Photo have native versions on all devices as well for those wanting an alternative to Adobe. All are now professional grade apps for iPad OS.
Before the shoot and during
I don’t ever plan on taking photos with my iPad due to image quality and bulk awkwardness but it is an amazing tool to help plan and organize my photo shoots. Update the amazing camera app Halide may have just changed my mind on this. More on that later.
I’ll have a list of locations I have scouted ahead of time, a shot list of things I want to capture and even a mood board for inspiration. Thanks to the Apple Pencil, I have had clients sign paperwork before and after we worked together and sent the final copies to them right away.
And let’s not forget that music in the background is a great way to keep the energy going during a shoot or while working on the post-process. All possible to Apple’s iPad and software services.
IMPORTING CAMERA PHOTOS ON AN IPAD
When I am traveling or shooting at home, I have my SD card almost full of RAW images. The iPad is a great tool for working with those shots, but they need to get on to the tablet first.
My main method is using the Apple camera SD/USB-C adapter to import the photos directly into the iPad. Another way is to transmit them wirelessly from the camera to the iPad although this is not as smooth or fast as I’d like need. Another dongle connects my images taken with my iPhone to the iPad but with the advantages of a cellular data connection this may be obsolete. Images from my phone are then stored into the Cloud and can be retrieved on the iPad.
The least convenient option is to bring along an external hard drive and connect it to the iPad with a separate USB/USB-C dongle and import the images to the aforementioned Files app.
It doesn’t matter what option we choose, the workflow is simple: plug your SD card in and transfer your images as needed. Then, you can either transport those files to Lightroom or your iCloud Photo Library from the disk by connecting it to your iPad, or you can access them directly from the drive via the Files app for later use. All these options are ideal because you want your photos to be backed up and not lost.
MANAGING AND STORING PHOTOS
With the improved file handling, managing photos on the iPad is no longer as challenging as it once was. No matter what approach you take, your images are organized and managed the same integrity you’d get on the Mac.
I have two approaches to processing my images in the digital darkroom, basic editing with my presets that emulate the look of analog film stock or advanced editing where I am adjusting light, exposure, curves or HSL toning.
With basic editing, the only tool I need is my index finger. In advanced editing I use either a mouse or the Pencil for the finer details.
There are a variety of software apps I use, and each one brings something unique to my desired final images. Because when I want to quickly experiment with different looks, I will use VSCO (Visual Supply Company) or Darkroom.
I’ve been using VSCO for about six years now and enjoy their filters. They’ve been diligent in maintaining the analog film stock filters but it is cumbersome to work with in that you have to individually import your shots to their app to develop them. At one point, I honestly believed and still hold out hope that VSCO will over take Instagram with their beautiful web presence and social engagement.
Darkroom takes the place of Snapseed for my go-to. Don’t get me wrong, Snapseed is a fantastic, free app but it was purchased by Google awhile back and well, I am anti-Google. Darkroom connects seamlessly to the Apple Photos app so I don’t need to import my images each time. Just open and edit. With its own set of filters, it has a ton of editing tools, including curves, HSL, exposure, contrast adjustments, grain, sharpening, and more such as using those those same tools to transform your videos as well.
As good as Darkroom is, when it comes time to edit photos from my camera, I almost always turn to Lightroom. Lightroom’s library is where all my camera photos live, and the editing capabilities are sophisticated and familiar to me after years of use.
When it is time comes to for advanced editing work, I rely on Pixelmator Pro and Lightroom.
Pixelmator Photo is new to me, thanks to one time purchase price and their 50% discount that I took advantage of last week. I was hoping that it would finally allow me to ditch the $120 a year subscription to Adobe but it isn’t there, yet. PP has continued to make improvements and allows me to build up my catalog of film emulsions as well as take advantage of their amazing editing tools powered by Machine Learning.
These ML-based capabilities are compelling because I can use them to color-match from another image and replicate from an inspiring photographer’s image. PP is seamlessly built in to the operating system and can access images directly from the Apple Photos app or Files app.
As good as PP is, when it comes time to editing photos, I almost always turn to Adobe Lightroom. Lightroom’s library is where all my camera photos are stored in catalogs, and is second to no one when it comes to organizing decades worth of my Archives. The editing tools are most familiar to me since version 1 way back in 2007. Now that they have gone to the cloud, I have access to all of these tools and images on every device for immediate access and processing .
All the software applications that I mentioned above support the processing and editing of RAW files, which is crucial to my desire to create large files without losing data integrity.
SAVING AND SHARING
The last step to an all iPad workflow is moving our processed images to their final home wether it be your hard drive, your social media, a client’s inbox or the printing lab.
Here is what I think is missing from an iPad only workflow and where it could do better:
No tethering option for starters. With my camera plugged into my laptop I can immediately transfer images for review and saving and then make adjustments as I shoot. Not possible with iOS yet.
No real way to print directly from iPad to the printer.
Better externally display support. Sidecar, the iOS feature which allows you to use the iPad as a second screen to your Mac is fine, but limited in size and resolution quality.
These limitations are not enough to get me to stop using the iPad for my photo workflow, it just means that in the next few versions of iPad, we’ll see these upgrades soon.
The iPad is a great workspace for editing your photos. It is my personal, mobile photo lab. I can process my images in bed or on a plane or even in between photo shoots when I am out and about.
None of these benefits I have mentioned today were possible a few years ago. I love the advancement of technology, don’t you?
MY DIGITAL DARKROOM
- Capture tools include Canon T6, iPhone, iPad Air, Halide raw camera app, and my collection of analog film cameras.
– Devices uses to post-process images are the MacBook, iPad Air with a 5G unlimited cellular data connection and an SD card reader. Cloud storage, 2 TB external hard drive, and the #2 pencil
– Post-processing labs include Adobe Lightroom, Pixelmator Pro, VSCO, Darkroom
– Portfolio and galleries that host the final images include my website, SmugMug, Flickr and VSCO.