Photography Workflow Using the iPad Pro M1

I had first published this guide in early 2019 in an effort to simplify my post-process photography workflow using the 2018 iPad. After decades of desktop and laptop processing, I wondered if the iPad was a solution for me.

Previous year articles from 2021 and 2019

Can the iPad replace the laptop for my photography post-process?

So much has changed since then that I have continued the series and decided to write a new post about it. The evolution in gear, software, and process has been a fun process to look back on and wonder how we managed to get anything done at all. But where there is a will, there are many ways. I will cover what my photography workflow looks like, but ultimately, everyone needs to choose what’s right for them. Workflows are personal and modified as needed. This topic seems to be a crowd favorite because each year these posts receive a lot of traffic and attention (thank you!)

A few months after that last post, I upgraded to the 12.9” Apple iPad M1 (5th Gen) and fine-tuned my workflow. Now, I also upgraded the laptop to the 2021 MacBook Pro M1, and it is no slouch. However, the photo workflow is different, limiting and feels almost antiquated. For now, the MacBook is a tool for me to curate my digital photo archives using Adobe Lightroom Classic, and that’s it. Here are some of the ways an iPad is more beneficial to me:

Multi-input workflow

Photography is a hands-on experience, and it is a joy to continue this on the iPad. Much like using your hands to develop your film negatives, so too are your fingers, the keyboard, and the Apple Pencil for finer control. Using a mouse to manipulate images is too impersonal for me now.

Storage

Thanks to the iPad and cloud services, there is an easier, more secure way to store images you’ve taken. This allows me to focus more on what I want to do (photography), rather than moving files around. I have 2 TB of iCloud storage waiting to receive my image uploads from either my camera or the iPhone. There is another 20 GB of storage in the Adobe cloud. Current images I am shooting are uploaded, stored and easily accessible on any of my devices.

My data transfer and storage needs to be effortless, to the point I don’t have to think about it. I mentioned the MacBook and my archives previously- that’s the only time I want to think about storage. I do organize images on the hard drive and then migrate them into the Archives stored on the 10 TB external hard drive.

Performance

The iPad has been granted a full-time job from me. It is the most powerful, fastest, and more interactive device I own. The ability to handle images in RAW format while asking for more work to do is remarkable to me. Battery life is spectacular, although it has a massive screen. Speaking of that massive screen, nothing makes me happier than reviewing my photos on such a beautiful screen. Much like the analog contact sheets, I can sort through quickly and determine which are the keepers and which get tossed into the digital bin. That M1 chip really knows how to process faster and distribute power evenly.

Mobile

Sure, the 12.9” iPad is large, and the magic keyboard that it magnetically attaches to adds weight. But it is still smaller and lighter than lugging a laptop with all the dongles, charger and cables around. Something else I am enjoying is the 5G connectivity. The ability to travel, make images, load them up into the cloud instantly is nothing short of brilliant. Want to check the forecast for the next day’s shooting? Care to watch that video tutorial of local street photographers while you travel? Start post-processing your images and have them secured until you get back home? Publish your work while on the go? It is all possible with that iPad.

Hardware & Software

Below is what I minimally use to produce a maximum photography workflow.

  1. Apple 12.9” iPad Pro (5th gen) – My mobile photo lab.
  2. Apple Pencil – Precision editing tool
  3. CharJen Mini stick- A USB-C adapter with SD card port, charging port
  4. Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro – All in one keyboard & cover
  5. Apple Photos – Store, review, edit.
  6. Adobe Lightroom – for photo post-processing, organization
  7. iCloud – for backup and syncing across devices using Photos app
  8. Adobe Creative Cloud – for backup and syncing across devices in Lightroom

Extra Tools In The Darkroom

Capture tools include Sony A7III, iPhone, iPad Pro and a collection of analog film cameras. Post-processing labs include Adobe Lightroom, Pixelmator Pro, VSCO and Hipstamatic. Portfolio and galleries that host the final images can be viewed at PhotoDenbow.com and ChrisDenbow.com

Conclusion

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. This makes the iPad the perfect tool for my photography.

Web 1.0

Social media, those platforms that grew under what we call Web 2.0, is dead to me. There is a reason why blogging, RSS feeds, e-mail, podcasting, and texting has stuck around for so long- they work. We have control. We interact with people we genuinely care about. We take our attention back.

I am thrilled to see like-minded individuals building on their own land in blogville as opposed to sharecropping on Zuck’s territories.

Unsubscribe

A recent post from another blogger has me thinking: “How much am I paying for subscription services? Do I even know all the services I am paying and agreeing to on a monthly or yearly basis? How much money can I save if I take an honest look and assess my needs/wants?

Personally, I prefer using stock apps and services where I can, but sometimes, apps and services can be a real joy to use instead. I dislike subscriptions and prefer to pay for a service one-time, but here lately many developers or moving away from one time purchases and going to the subscription model to keep the money flowing in. I don’t mind supporting small, independent developers, but I prefer not to succumb to subscription creep either.

Honest assessment of apps/services:

  1. Apple One- Too much good stuff here that I use frequently like Music, TV, 2 TB storage, Fitness+, Arcade and News. A bonus feature is the ability to share it with up to 5 family members who enjoy as well at no extra cost. $30mo.
  2. Adobe Photography Plan- I’ve been using Adobe products for 15 years and hated it when they switched to subscription model. But they made it worthwhile. A lot of value here for $10 monthly. Plus, they host my photography website. Is it possible to do without it? Yes. I have made software purchases ahead of leaving Adobe, but…it’s a tough one. It stays for now.
  3. Bear Notes- Could I use the stock Apple Notes instead? Yes. But Apple Notes is so damn ugly. Bear has all the features and design I want except the ability to collaborate with others. I just re-upped back in December, so it stays for another 11 months. $15 yearly.
  4. DayOne- The best private journal app that I’ve been free using for 6 years. I just subscribed last month thanks to a generous Apple Store gift card. Is it worth $30 a year? That depends on my usage this year. Plus, they just got bought out by my current web host, WordPress, and promise to integrate somehow. TBD.
  5. Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+ bundle- $20 monthly with a lot of entertainment value. ESPN, not so much. They keep all the big matches and F1 races off there. Hulu up-charges to avoid ads (a must). Today, I dropped those two and holding on to Disney for $7 a month. Will it last?
  6. Feedbin- Consider it to be a podcast player, but for blogs, YouTube videos, newsletters and more. There are other feed readers out there for a hell of a lot less but FeedBin checks all the right boxes, and it has been great, but $50 a year with no software improvements? Why? Subscription ends in February.
  7. Fantastical- Do I need a calendar app for $40 a year? When I thought it could help me organize and block out times for my personal life and connect to my company’s email Outlook Exchange, yes. Only to discover my company blocks access to third-party apps for security. Damn. Will not renew in favor of Apple stock calendar app. In December.
  8. Geocaching- A worldwide treasure hunt using GPS coordinates and a fun way to get out and explore. Worth the $50 annually for me.
  9. Micro.blog- A new-to-me platform for hosting blogs. Simple, easy, with amazing community support and direct access to the developer. Will it pull me away from WordPress? Time will tell. $5 or $10 monthly based on desired features.
  10. MindNode- a tool that helps me parse my thoughts with visual diagrams. I’ve been using it to help plot my novels and short stories. I grabbed it again because it was available thanks to an Apple gift card. $20 a year. Then again, pen and paper works just as well.
  11. Ulysses- One of the best software tools around for writers. I’m typing this article on it now and will send it to my website via Ulysses automagically. $50 annually versus the one time paid app I also have called iA Writer. Subscription renewed in November. Status is: we’ll see.
  12. VSCO- A remarkable phone camera app that offers a lot of vintage film emulations with strong community support and even a webpage to host your images. $20 annually.
  13. WordPress- My website host for the past 19 years. They’ve been outstanding but lately quite proud of their offerings and the subscription costs jump as a result. This is why I’ve been looking at Micro.blog as an alternative. $80 annually

Well, that escalated quickly. There may be some subscriptions I have forgotten about that will be a surprise when I get the bill. But those will be addressed accordingly. As a result of this analysis, I’m taking a look at services, value, costs, and alternatives. I’m off to go unsubscribe to a few things and when the renewal notices pop up I’ll reconsider everything.

Micro Denbow [.info]

I’ve been self-hosting on WordPress for almost 15 years, then switched to WP hosted. I am now experimenting with microblogging and the new-to-me web host called Micro.blog.

The immediate goal for me is to have a repository for all short form posts (280 words or less), audio & video clips that don’t necessarily have a place here where I reserve for my long-form blog posts. Think Twitter but self-hosted and not on anyone else’s platform. Even better, they are all in one dedicated page here on my website. Neat.

So far so good, but is it good enough for me to import everything over here yet? Stay tuned.

**Update** This is shelved for now and I’ll take another look at it when it comes time to renew WordPress subscription in September.

MyPad

After playing with my Apple toys I’ve come to the decision that the iPad is the one I play with the most. A close second would be the iPhone. A distant third would be the MacBook.

With the iPad, there are few limitations. As far as I can tell, the one drawback would be image capture even though the iPad Pro is no slouch, not with these tech specs such as the built in Wide and Ultra Wide cameras. But who wants to use both hands on a 12×9 frame and snap a photo with it?

With an iPad all is achievable.

I have work related apps loaded on there such as Microsoft Office so I can stay in communication with my team anywhere I go (helpful, but depressing.) A keyboard that also is a protective case is always handy. Wifi where available and 5G cellular when it isn’t so I am always connected. You can’t get that on a Macbook. The same for the #2 Pencil. It can’t be used on the Macbook or the iPhone.

5G connectivity on my tablet

When I am not working, I can catch a movie, crank up the tunes, or read a good book. The iPad is my mobile photo processing lab, my video editing room and my gaming console.

My advice is to skip the Macbook if possible and spend the extra money on the iPad Pro. I maxed mine out because I knew it needed to endure everything I put it through. Work, play, entertainment, everything.

Reading Workflow

Reading is one of my all-time favorite things to do. But nowadays, there hasn’t been time allowances made for it, which is odd to me because now there is more to read than ever before.

As we all know, reading has expanded from traditional printed books, magazines, and newspapers. Now we have websites, blog posts, emails, Facebook, Twitter, forums, newsletters, digital books, e-magazines, etc., etc. These types of reading can be an overwhelming reading list that we must feel we have to keep up with.

The list becomes difficult, so my solution is to not try to keep up. My reading lists are self-inflicted, and so I pare it down to a read-it-later system that works for me. In true minimalist fashion, I have scaled down my printed books to the essentials. Now my fiction reading is done with e-books. Thanks to an all-inclusive Apple One subscription, they threw in digital magazines that I will occasionally browse through. The blogs I enjoy keeping up with have been scaled back. I don’t do Facebook, “news” websites, or newspapers, so no loss there.

Even with a scaled down reading list, time for reading is still a challenge: how do you make time to consume what you want and when you want? How do you read without distraction? It’s difficult to read when you come across something you want to explore later, or notifications pop up on your screen from phone calls, texts etc.

Here’s my attempt at finding reading without distraction:Books. Rarely will I read non-fiction. I love a good novel here. Most of them are now consumed through the Libby app, which ties into your local libraries for zero cost. To avoid distractions, my reading device goes into “Airplane Mode.” I’m good for thirty minutes to a couple of hours into another world.

Blogs. I love to read blogs on topics I enjoy and love to see another author’s perspective on it. The list of authors and websites I have carefully curated is filtered into an RSS aggregator called FeedBin. I don’t visit these blogs and websites, no, they come to me through Feedbin. No advertising, everything is in reader mode. Meaning, the format is stripped down to white text on a grey background for distraction-free reading. I can save the article for later reference or clear the posts out and wait for the next ones to be delivered as soon as they are published. Genius.

Browsing. If you browse through the internet, you could open multiple tabs and maybe re-visit them later, but let’s be honest- you won’t. There are a lot of “Read-It-Later” services out there like Instapaper, Pocket, etc. to help out. Find an article on the web you want to keep for later? Hit the browser’s send button and deposit it there for later reading. Make the web work for you. Personally, I prefer the one-time purchase of a “R-I-L” service called GoodLinks. That is where all my articles to follow up on. Again, on my own time.

Email. This is a tool for critical notifications only. I do subscribe to newsletters, the next step of blog authors getting their articles out there. Not me. All newsletters are delivered through Feedbin. I like my email inbox for important things and keep my address locked down tight.

Social Media. Twitter, is it for me. I have found so much benefit there than any other social media outlet. I have met so many like-minded individuals there and, as a result, in the real world too. I sprung for the third-party app called TweetBot that eliminates advertising and limit my time there to maybe 2 times a week for 5 minutes. After that, I’m good.

Recommended Apps that I use for my reading workflow:

  1. Libby
  2. Feedbin or Reeder.
  3. GoodLinks
  4. Tweetbot

The 1st Annual Denbow Awards 2021

It’s that time of year when publishers, artists and generally most in the media like to focus on the “Best Of” for that calendar year. So, I thought it would be a good time to roll out the first ever Denbow Awards.

Books

Cloud Cuckoo Land

Project Hail Mary

The Plot

Strange Beasts of China

Apps

Obsidian

Feedbin

Geocache

Hipstamatic

Games

Asphalt 8

Alto’s Odyssey

Both games are from Apple Arcade and, for me, the only games I really play. If it wasn’t a part of the Apple One subscription, I wouldn’t play them, but they are both excellent ways to enjoy some downtime.

Film

Ghostbusters: Afterlife is the only movie I have seen in theaters this year. A nice continuity from the original actors’ story line and to the next generation.

Matrix: Resurrections- I haven’t seen this yet, but I am eagerly anticipating this, so we’ll call that a win.

TV

WandaVision- Disney Plus

Foundation- Apple TV

Tech

iPad Pro M1 2021

Music

I tried to break the Apple Music algorithms by listening to different genres. You can click here for the Audio Denbow radio station and Apple has set up their annual review of most played songs for me on Replay 2021.

Podcasts

My podcast listening has been limited, but I’ll note my two favorites here anyway. Smartless and Camp Monsters.

“SmartLess” with Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes, & Will Arnett is a podcast that connects and unites people from all walks of life to learn about shared experiences through thoughtful dialogue and organic hilarity. A nice surprise: in each episode of SmartLess, one of the hosts reveals his mystery guest to the other two. What ensues is a genuinely improvised and authentic conversation filled with laughter and newfound knowledge to feed the SmartLess mind.”

“These are the stories of impossible encounters with impossible creatures in the wildest corners of North America. We’ll travel the country, sit around campfires and talk about that thing that ran across the trail in the middle of the night, just beyond the beam of your flashlight. Come closer to the fire. Let’s hear the next legend.”

Blog Post of the Year

My Updated iPad-Only Photography Workflow, as nominated by all of the views, comments and shares. Thank you!

And that’s it! The first annual Denbow Awards show has come to a close. It’s been a good year for entertainment and technology, and I cannot wait to see what is in store for 2022.

Sonya

Meet Sonya, the Alpha 7 mirrorless camera system from Sony. I managed to grab her, an extra battery, charger, two 128GB memory cards and a Lacie all-terrain mobile 1TB hard drive. Now I need to think about a new photography work flow.