I’ve never been the most prolific practitioner of portrait photography. But I’ve admired those photographers who are as skilled at interacting with their subjects as they are interacting with their camera. So, if I’m working on shooting portraits or candids, as I often am when my wife and I visit family in Nebraska, especially my four adorable nieces and nephews, I’ll employ a more mobile workflow.
Here’s the setting: The temperature is brisk, and the leaves are just getting ready to show their colors. It’s also when we take the kids to a local farm that’s converted into a huge festival area with corn mazes, rides and myriad pumpkins varying in sizes, shapes and colors. And when you have nieces and nephews as adorable as we do, you learn that it’s an excellent setting to get some photos.
Using Mobile To Connect With Subjects
With portrait photography, I find that I have to balance finding an ideal composition with interacting with my subject(s) not only to direct their pose but also to instill them with confidence and make them comfortable. One way I find that’s useful in doing this is to show them the photos you’re taking of them.
So, with my pumpkin patch shots, I was able to show the photos I’m taking to my nieces and nephews, which made them even more cooperative. I also showed them to their mother, my sister-in-law. When she sees the results, it generally elevates the overall mood even more. After all, who wouldn’t love to see great new photos of their kids in near-real time? It’s a strategy that I could employ easily in many client settings, particularly when shooting events.
That’s exactly why I’ve become totally hooked on using Adobe Lightroom CC Mobile.
21st Century Family Photos: Lightroom CC
Even in the early days of digital photography, the typical routine would be that you’d have to wait to get home before you could offload your photos, cull them, edit them and finally share them with your family.
Today, with the robust capabilities of Adobe Lightroom CC Mobile and the ability to import raw files onto a mobile device, like an Apple iPad or iPhone, which have become more powerful, you begin culling, editing and sharing photos as soon as you’re done taking them. All you need is a mobile device with Adobe Lightroom CC Mobile (with a valid Adobe Creative Cloud Full or Photography subscription), an SD card reader and the SD card from your camera.
With this setup, I can import all of my camera’s raw files onto my iPad, use stars or flags to rate the ones I want to edit right away, apply some quick treatments, and have them ready to show the kids and their mom. Even better is that if I have a WiFi (or LTE) signal, those RAW photos and the edits I make will automatically sync to Adobe Creative Cloud and will be accessible on any other device that’s running Lightroom CC.
That may surprise some of you. That’s because up until quite recently, mobile photography, especially when it comes to achieving a desktop-class experience, has been scoffed at, and with good reason. Initially, the hardware available simply wasn’t powerful enough to handle the robust operations of a desktop-class photo-editing environment. And even when the hardware got good enough, the operating systems didn’t yet support viewing, editing and capturing RAW photos.
Fortunately, all of that has changed.
In fact, I’m so convinced about the power and potential of mobile photography workflows that I’ve fully migrated away from Lightroom Classic CC to the newer Lightroom CC and have synced my entire photo catalog to the Adobe Creative Cloud. Now, when I’m waiting in line to grab a coffee, I can launch Lightroom CC Mobile on my iPhone, find a random photo I took, apply a treatment and share it with the world.
Better yet, every edit I make is synced and applied in Lightroom CC on my desktop and iPad. To show you how, let me walk through my edit from the farm shoot.
Desktop Editing…To Go: A Step-By-Step In Adobe Lightroom CC Mobile
Before we begin, it’s important to note that this is the exact same post-processing workflow I’d follow if I was sitting at my desktop. My goal is to illustrate just how powerful mobile photo editing has become using Adobe Lightroom CC Mobile.
So, the first thing I did was find a photo from the shoot that I wanted to edit right away. That was easy because I could quickly swipe through all of the imports and add the appropriate rating.
Typically, one of the first things I do before I begin fixing color and tone or stylize my photo is to get rid of any distractions. The easiest way for me to do this is to use Lightroom’s Healing Brush.
Over the years, Adobe has made great strides in improving the quality of the Healing Brush, and the version found in its mobile app is no exception. Whether you use your finger or, as I do, the Apple Pencil, all you need to do is adjust the brush settings (size, feather and strength) and draw on the areas you want to heal. With this photo, I removed several distracting elements in the background as well as healed a small cut on the bridge of Ashlyn’s nose.
Next, I thought it’d be a good idea to make a localized adjustment to brighten her teeth and desaturate them, removing the bit of stain. Fortunately, I have access to the same desktop-class localized adjustment tools on my iPad. For this purpose, I use the Adjustment Brush and carefully draw my selection on Ashlyn’s teeth. If the selection spills over onto the lips, I can easily refine it by using the Eraser brush. With the selection made, all I need to do is adjust the Exposure and Saturation sliders to taste.
With the distractions and localized adjustments out of the way, I can begin fixing tone and color. All of the sliders you’d find in Lightroom on your desktop are available here, including one of my favorites: the Tone Curve. By adding several points on the tone curve, I can manipulate its shape to create a slightly faded look. I can also adjust other global settings accordingly.
The next several steps involve more localized adjustments using a combination of the Adjustment Brush and Radial Filter.
I wanted to brighten Ashlyn’s eyes and face a bit more so that they popped against the background. And speaking of the background, I wanted to render it a bit darker and warmer, thereby adding more contrast between it and Ashlyn.
One of my favorite things about working within the Lightroom CC ecosystem is that all of my custom-built creative profiles sync to all of my devices. Whereas traditional Lightroom presets are snapshots of settings made in the Develop module, each of my profiles are built atop custom Look Up Tables (LUTs) that I generate using a combination of Adjustment Layers in Adobe Photoshop.
Also, when you apply a traditional preset to a photo, it will overwrite any edits you’ve made to the respective sliders. On the other hand, not only do profiles get applied atop the entire edit stack, but you can also control the strength.
With the profile applied and stylization complete, I can move on to the final step: sharpening.
You may not know this, but there are a few hidden sharpening tools within Lightroom on the desktop. One such tool is converting your image to greyscale, making it easier to visualize the effect of the sharpening.
Another tool is a mask view, showing you exactly where sharpening is being applied and where it’s being omitted. Fortunately, those very same hidden tools are built into Lightroom CC Mobile and are accessible with multitouch gestures.
With my post-processing workflow complete, I’m now ready to share the photo with the rest of our family. And, again, when I get home, I’ll already have that photo with all of its edits waiting for me.
Mobile photography has never looked so promising…and it’s only going to get better.