Seattle Times: iPad Pro and Finder Tricks

In my latest Practical Mac column for the Seattle Times, I share my thoughts after using the new 10.5-inch iPad Pro for several weeks. Spoiler: I like it a lot. However, if you bought the previous iPad Pro recently—say, in late November, like I did—you won’t see as dramatic of an upgrade. Though the larger screen is sure nice.

I also share some practical tips for working in the Finder on the Mac. It’s one of those things we do so often that we don’t think about it, and yet there’s a lot of power that you may not realize (including one or two things I didn’t even know about until I started deliberately poking around!).

Read the column here, and feel free to comment below with your thoughts: A look at the new iPad Pro, and handy Finder tricks.

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Lightroom mobile Adds Selective Brush, New iPad Interface, and More

Lightroom_mobile_July_2017

Recently I needed to grab some screenshots of Lightroom mobile on the iPad and realized that I’d been running a beta for quite a while. I deleted the beta and re-loaded the release version and was momentarily taken aback: it seemed so basic compared to what I’ve been using!

Now everyone gets to experience the reverse of my awe, with today’s release of new versions of Lightroom mobile for iOS (and Android). Highlights that I particularly like include:

  • Selective Brush: When Adobe added gradient masks, Lightroom mobile became much more versatile, especially when editing landscape photos. Now, there’s a brush tool for painting masked areas or removing areas from gradients (like mountains that poke up into a sky you want to darken).
  • Details Pane: At last, you can apply Lightroom’s sharpening and noise-reduction tools to an image or a mask, instead of pounding away at it with the Clarity slider.
  • Redesigned iPad Interface: The editing tools are now accessible by tapping an Edit button, separating it from the Info interface (and the Rate & Review interface on the iPhone). This does have a drawback, though, in that the editing controls take up an awfully large section of the screen at the expense of the image you’re editing.

Lightroom mobile is free to use, although a Creative Cloud subscription is required to sync photos and collections between devices.

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iPad Pro Is Now a True Photographer’s Tool

Has the iPad Pro finally become a true photographer’s tool? A year and a half ago, with the release of the first 12.9-inch iPad Pro, it was so close… but there were still some significant limitations.

Now, with the latest iPad Pro models, I think we’re finally there. Improved hardware is part of the story—USB 3 speeds at import, finally, for both sizes—and software is catching up. And the possibilities that will come with iOS 11 in the fall are still more intriguing.

At Macworld, I explain in more detail: The iPad Pro: Now a true photographer’s tool.

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iPad Pro Gets a Significant Update

ipad-pro-family-blackOne of the highlights of Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) keynote was the unveiling of two new iPad Pro models. The flashier update replaces the current 9.7 inch iPad Pro, which now has a 10.5-inch (diagonal) screen but is only a hair physically larger than the model it replaces: 9.8 inches tall and 6.8 inches wide, compared to 9.4 inches tall and 6.6 inches wide. The new one is also 0.05 inches thinner, and weighs the same 1.03 pounds.

(To watch the iPad Pro portion of the keynote, start at the 93:00 mark—yes, that’s 93 minutes; the whole event ran over two hours!)

The size of that display isn’t the only highlight: The 10.5-inch and 12.9-inch models are also brighter than predecessors, and both have True Tone displays (which adjust color balance based on ambient lighting) and P3 Wide Color gamut.

They also operate at up to 120 Hz, double the rate that today’s devices run, resulting in two implications. The higher refresh rate—Apple calls it ProMotion—means the screen updates more quickly, making it significantly more responsive, according to Apple. That extends from touch input to using Apple Pencil, which now operates at a reduced latency of 20ms. ProMotion is also good for battery life, because the iPad Pro adjusts the refresh rate based on what you’re doing onscreen: if you’re browsing the Web or viewing still photos, it switches to a lower refresh rate, and therefore consumes less battery power. Even movies can be scaled back to 60 Hz (without affecting video quality).

One of the things I’m happy to see, for photographers, is that the Lightning port on both models now operates at USB 3 speeds, making for much faster photo and video import. (Last year’s release of the 9.7-inch iPad Pro was stuck with USB 2 speeds, a feature I curse every single time I import photos into mine.)

ipad_pro_usb3_speeds_2017_keynote

The new iPad Pro models ship with an Apple-designed A10X processor for greater speed. To demonstrate the processor power, Serif demonstrated their new Affinity Photo application for iPad, which was impressive as hell and just released today. I can’t wait to get my hands on it and see how it performs.

The base configurations now start at 64 GB and go up to 512 GB of storage. You can order them now via Apple, and they begin shipping next week.

Also interesting are the changes for iPad that are coming with iOS 11, also announced at the event. Apple is finally treating the iPad Pro like the powerful computer it is, with lots of multi-tasking and multi-select gestures and options. See more about iOS 11 here; it’s available now to developers, with a full free release to everyone in the fall.

Be sure to watch this short intro video Apple created:

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iPad Photo Backup with a Raspberry Pi

Making backups of your photos while you’re on location is essential, and there are plenty of ways to do it. I own a WD My Passport Wireless hard disk that works well (and it’s been supplanted by the new My Passport Wireless Pro).

But for some people, the solution is to build it themselves. Lenin at Moving Electrons put together a package built around a Raspberry Pi to store and access photos from his iPad Pro. It’s definitely a more geeky approach, involving lots of custom code, but looks like a great project. Check it out here: Backup Photos While Traveling With an iPad Pro and a Raspberry Pi

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Getting (i)Cloudy at The Seattle Times

My barber said, “I have too many clouds,” and I immediately sympathized. iCloud, Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive…I have files stashed in all of them. What surprised me when I set about to write this week’s column for the Seattle Times, is that I’ve so effortlessly moved so much of my work and personal data to cloud-based services.

iOS 10 and macOS Sierra, released last month, further entwine iCloud’s tendrils into everyday activities. In the column, I talk about how it enables me to control Philips Hue lights in my home from any remote location, unlock a Mac using my Apple Watch just by getting near it, and more.

Read the column here: Forecast: Increasing use of cloud services for just about everything.

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Photos Crash Course for iOS 10 and macOS Sierra

Tc photos v2Sometimes, it feels as if I’m a lone defender of Apple’s Photos app under macOS. Many people find it too different from iPhoto, or think it’s too basic (even though it’s actually quite sophisticated), or… I don’t know, they just don’t like change. Except for Aperture users who were abandoned by Apple—their discontent is understandable.

It’s not just because I wrote a book about Photos and Apple’s photo ecosystem. True, I use Lightroom as my primary photo library manager, but I also make extensive use of Photos and iCloud Photo Library.

And now macOS Sierra is out, with a new version of Photos that brings better searching, Memories, revamped people identification, and more!

Alas, when my publisher Peachpit Press all but vaporized early this year, the possibility to update my Photos book also went up in smoke. That’s too bad, because I really enjoyed writing it, and thought it turned out well.

However, I’m not the only Photos defender. My friend and colleague Jason Snell has just released the second edition of his highly regarded, and best-selling, Photos: A Take Control Crash Course. Jason has been immersed in Photos during the developer preview versions of macOS Sierra and knows it inside and out. The ebook is 74 pages of hard-won information, fully illustrated and written in Jason’s friendly, approachable style. And it’s only $10!

Photos is a key part of both macOS Sierra and iOS 10, so before you order Jason’s book using the link above, consider bundling it—at a discount—with Scholle McFarland’s Sierra: A Take Control Crash Course, Josh Centers’s iOS 10: A Take Control Crash Course, or both!

Buy the Photos, Sierra, and iOS 10 Crash Courses for $28
Buy the Photos and Sierra Crash Courses for $17.50
Buy the Photos and iOS 10 Crash Courses for $17.50

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iPad Pro: Not a Question of If, Son, but Which One?

My esteemed colleague Julio Ojeda-Zapata knows that you should buy an iPad Pro if you’re in the market for a new tablet, but which model? The 12.9-inch model has a beautiful screen and faster performance, while the 9.7-inch model is a bit lighter and offers the True Tone display (and a wider color gamut).

In this TidBITS article, Julio breaks down the differences and spotlights the advantages of each: Comparing iPad Pro Technologies and Intangibles.

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How Lightroom for iOS 2.4 Changes the Mobile Photo Landscape

Birdhouses

Over at TidBITS, I write in more depth about the changes in Lightroom for iOS 2.4, and they’re doozies: Lightroom for iOS 2.4 Changes Mobile Photo Workflow.

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, adding native raw file format support to Adobe’s mobile photo editor is a big deal, especially for people who are looking to use just an iPad or iPhone on photo shoots to minimize the gear they carry.

It means you don’t end up with separate edited copies of photos that are synced with Lightroom on the desktop—a raw file editing in Lightroom mobile is synced to your main library with edits intact. And the editing power takes a big leap in quality, pulling detail out of shadows without blocking up sections where JPEGs just don’t hold up.

For example, here’s an underexposed raw photo edited entirely in Lightroom on my iPad:

LRm24 raw before after

There’s a better example in the article that shows extreme pixelation in a JPEG.

I also talk about the new local selection tools, which are great for adjusting selected portions in linear or gradient areas. Here’s another before-and-after, showing the radial tools at work; I was able to bring up the exposure for just the birdhouses without overexposing the background.

Lightroom m24 local original

Lightroom m24 local radial

Overall, this is an exciting release, something I’ve been looking forward to for years. It streamlines the mobile photo workflow and does what I envisioned in 2011 when I wrote the first edition of my iPad for Photographers book.

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Lightroom for iOS 2.4 Adds Raw and Gradient Selections

Lightroom for iOS 2.4

Adobe just released a significant update for the iOS version of Lightroom, bringing two features mobile photographers are going to love: raw import and editing, and linear and radial graduated adjustments. The first could change how we work with photos in the field, and the second is a feature I use more and more on the desktop and have in the past resorted to interesting workarounds to implement on the iPad.

I need to dig more into this release, but it looks promising. Photos you import using Apple’s Lightning adapters are brought into the Photos app Camera Roll, and then recognized by Lightroom as raw. (Oh, but now I lament Apple’s choice of sticking with USB 2.0 speed for photo import on the 9.7-inch iPad Pro.) This could mean no longer needing to shoot in Raw+JPEG just to get a high-resolution JPEG to work with on the device.

(Remember, until now Lightroom wouldn’t even display raw images when importing them from the Camera Roll, and in most apps, the JPEG preview the camera creates to display on its LCD is what’s used for editing.)

Adobe says the app supports all the same raw formats that Lightroom on the desktop supports; I had no trouble opening and editing a handful of raw .RAF files from my Fuji X-T1.

Lightroom ios 2 4 raw badges

I’ll be writing more about this, looking at how Lightroom syncs the raw files back to the desktop, whether it’s practical to import a lot of images or just selected ones, and what this means for Apple’s upcoming raw image support in iOS 10.

For now, here’s more information from Adobe: Lightroom for Mobile July Releases.

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