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A Guide to using Adobe Lightroom for mobile

© Richard Curtis/Adobe

January 2017

Richard Curtis, Adobe Systems UK Principal Solution Consultant in Digital Imaging, writes exclusively for CPN on how to get the best from Adobe’s Lightroom for mobile app. Please click on the play button in the window above to watch the video...

Globally we are seeing a trend to a mobile-first photography workflow. Adobe has been quick to react and ensure that photographers of all generations are supported, including pure mobile photographers with a smartphone (including RAW images from the device where supported, using the open Adobe DNG RAW format) as well as a pure mobile workflow when a traditional digital camera is used.

The use of the traditional digital camera in this workflow is a wonderful feature and will suit many scenarios (including holidays, travel, sports, news and reportage). The ability to be able to consume and edit high quality, professional RAW/JPG images in the field, direct to the smartphone or a tablet device for quick publishing is invaluable for any user.

This article will show how to connect a Canon DSLR camera direct to a mobile device, and use Adobe Lightroom for mobile to edit, publish and sync photographs back to the Lightroom desktop. For this article, an EOS-1D X Mark II DSLR, a smartphone, the USB cable (from the camera box) and a USB to Lightning adapter will be used to import photos from the camera’s CF card. All images are shot in the Canon .CR2 RAW format.

Step 1: Opening an image in Lightroom

To get started, plug the USB cable into the camera, then into the USB smartphone adapter and turn the camera on. To get the photos (in this case .CR2 RAW files), to the mobile device, open up the photos application on the mobile device, then either select the files individually (or Select All), then select import, to load the files from the camera. Importing via USB adapter to an Apple device is only possible with later versions of iOS (9 and 10).

Once the connection has been made, you can Import All, or just select the ones that you need, then tap Import. The Photos app (in this case) will act as a small repository to store your cameras files (RAW in this example). It’ll most likely be, that you won’t store all your RAW files here, due to the disk space required. I would suspect that it will be a temporary area to sync data to the Lightroom desktop version on your computer, or make quick changes to the RAW file from the camera in the field and publish to the camera roll or a social networking site. Once the selected photos have been imported from the camera, it can be detached from the mobile device.

Opening Lightroom for mobile

To edit your photos using Lightroom for mobile you will need to first install it from the appropriate App store or Android market onto your device. Once Lightroom for mobile has installed, you will then need to login with your Creative Cloud/Creative Cloud Photography Plan Adobe ID. Click here to sign up and get your Adobe ID.

With Lightroom for mobile running and logged in, you should see the first Lightroom for mobile screen (my Lightroom for mobile already has previous collections in there).

To import images from the camera roll, and into Lightroom for mobile, just create a new collection. Tapping the plus symbol in the top right hand corner of the app will make a new collection. For this article, I will call it Morning Shoot.

Once the collection has been created, it will appear in the collections list. To add camera roll images to this, just tap the three dots on the right hand side of the target collection and then tap Add Photos.

It is possible to add individual images by tapping on the required ones. It’s also possible to add all images, or add a range of images. To add a range of images and to save time, hold a finger on the Start From image, then choose Select Range… (note: RAW files are labelled clearly as RAW).

Once the first image has been selected, navigate to the end of the range and select the last one. Then tap Add (number of) photos at the bottom of the screen. You will see that the images get imported into the collection.

Once the images start to appear, the collection can be tapped, to start working on the Photos. To start working on an image, just tap on one from the collection, and a single image will appear.

© Richard Curtis/Adobe

Select all images on your smartphone to import into Lightroom for mobile.

© Richard Curtis/Adobe

With Lightroom for mobile running, this will be the opening menu showing your imported photographs.

© Richard Curtis/Adobe

The default collection name is the current date and time, but this can be replaced with the appropriate name of your shoot, in this case Morning Shoot.

© Richard Curtis/Adobe

With the collection created, adding images is simply a matter of tapping on the ones you require.

© Richard Curtis/Adobe

With all the files you need selected, you are ready to begin editing.

© Richard Curtis/Adobe

Working on an image is just a question of tapping on the one you wish to adjust.

Step 2: Rating and editing your images

At the top of the screen you will see Edit. This will allow you to edit the picture. Other options include Info (change the title and caption as well as other camera and image data), also, Rate/Review and Activity. Comments are available on public facing collections.

The Rate/Review is built on the same structure as Lightroom Desktop, using flags and stars. Its purpose is to help narrow down the pictures you would like to include in the edit.

Once the ranking process has been completed, you can go back up one level (to the grid view of the collection). Tapping on the collection name (top centre) allows filtering to be enabled. You can select so that only images with a star rating of 4 or above will be shown, for example. However, other options and filtering selections can be changed to suit.

Once you are ready to start working on your images, choose Edit from the top centre menu and the image editing controls with be shown. These editing controls mirror Lightroom, but are labelled slightly differently. The control marked Light will be your Basic panel (from Lightroom desktop).

You can explore these options and work on the images. Controls include changing of exposure, highlights, shadow, contrast, post crop vignettes, colour (including HSL – Hue Saturation and Luminance curves) as well as split toning plus many other controls.

One area that photographers love about Lightroom is the ability to apply lens corrections. This is available under the Optics tab of Lightroom mobile, by flicking the switch to on or off, which will apply the correction for the Camera/Lens combination used in the image.

Adding Gradients and Radial adjustments is as simple as selecting the filter type and dragging it over the image, then positioning where it needs to be. Once in position the effects can be added from the controls at the base of the screen.

Whilst adding any effects/adjustments to the image, the cloud icon changes to include a ‘+’ icon. This Lightroom icon is letting you know that the file needs to be synced to the Creative Cloud, but is waiting for the edit to be completed. The Sync can be forced by tapping the Force Sync button, or by move to the next picture. Also, going up one level to the grid view will automatically send the changes to the Creative Cloud.

The fastest way to share the picture and changes to the camera roll or social media is to tap the square with the arrow pointing upwards (top right), then tap ‘Save to Camera Roll’ from the menu that appears or tapping share.

© Richard Curtis/Adobe

The Edit menu allows you to adjust title, caption and EXIF data as well as rate the image.

© Richard Curtis/Adobe

The Review menu allows you to see title, caption and EXIF data as well ratings given to the image.

© Richard Curtis/Adobe

The info panel allows the title and caption of the photograph to be updated.

© Richard Curtis/Adobe

The editing controls on Lightroom for mobile mirror those found on the desktop version.

© Richard Curtis/Adobe

An example of some of the controls available in Lightroom for mobile. As you will discover, Lightroom for mobile is a powerful imaging and workflow tool which offers convenient editing and adjustment options on the move.

© Richard Curtis/Adobe

Lens correction can be accessed under the Optics tab.

© Richard Curtis/Adobe

Sometimes it’s handy to rotate the device and use the screen to maximum effect. This is only available when screen rotation lock is not disabled.

Step 3: Lightroom Desktop

Returning to Lightroom Desktop, it’s easy to configure the syncing of mobile images to it. If it’s a brand new installation, Lightroom will automatically ask if you would like to login to the Creative Cloud/Creative Cloud Photography plan.

Also, it’s important to point out the location section of the panel. Lightroom mobile is able to transfer files to the desktop version of Lightroom for storage and backup and once the ‘Specify location for Lightroom mobile images’ is turned on, any files will be transferred into that location.

Once Lightroom has found a connection, any collections that were made on the mobile device will be synchronised to the collections tab within Lightroom desktop. This can be seen in the Morning Shoot collection below. The small double arrow to the left hand side of the collection name depicts any active synchronisation.

Once files have started to synchronise, they can be worked on in Lightroom Desktop’s Development Tab. During the sync, any modifications or adjustments that were made on the mobile device will also be copied across, in line with Lightroom’s non-destructive policy.

Of course, any other Development mode options in Lightroom Desktop can be made. Once changes have been made on the desktop, and as long as the collection is still marked as active (depicted by the double arrow on the collection), then the changes will be sent back to the mobile device. Files on the mobile device (or in the camera roll) can be removed. The files are now securely placed within the file location and managed by Lightroom Desktop.

© Richard Curtis/Adobe

Select Lightroom preferences and head to the Lightroom for mobile tab to sync.

© Richard Curtis/Adobe

Lightroom for mobile is able to transfer files to the desktop for storage and backup.

© Richard Curtis/Adobe

Once Lightroom for mobile is configured, the synchronisation can be started by clicking on the Lightroom boilerplate tab (top left of the screen), then choosing Sync with Lightroom mobile.

© Richard Curtis/Adobe

Once the collection has been selected, any images that are synced will be shown in the middle of the screen (if grid view is on then the results will build up as the files are synced).

© Richard Curtis/Adobe

The Gradient and Radial filters that were made on the mobile device can also be updated/adjusted using the Development mode, by clicking on the appropriate tool under the histogram.

I hope that this article has given you a good overview of the wide variety of options that are available inside Adobe Lightroom for mobile, and that it has provided you with a solid grounding to understand and get the most from this very useful app.

Biografia: Richard Curtis

Richard Curtis

Richard Curtis is a Principal Solutions Consultant at Adobe UK with a focus on Digital Imaging. Richard is the UK contact for Photoshop, Lightroom, Elements and Imaging workflows around the Creative Cloud. He is a keen technologist and has been a keen photographer for over 20 years, with a focus on street, travel and portrait photography. His favourite photographers include Irving Penn, Mary Ellen Mark and Henri Cartier-Bresson.