Photo Sync: Figuring Out Lightroom Mobile and iCloud Photo Library [en]

[fr] En train de me dépatouiller avec la nouvelle application Photos d'Apple et la version mobile de Lightroom. Pas encore tout à fait là (la connexion internet un peu lente et le grand nombre de photos n'aident pas).

In the background of my many days of “doing nothing” here in Kolkata, I’ve been trying to wrap my brain around how sync works for both iCloud Photo Library and Lightroom for mobile, particularly as I’m in the process of giving up on Google Photos. Agreed, it’s not exactly the same part of the workflow (getting photos onto my computer archive vs. getting them online/backing them up). But you know how my thought processes work by now, don’t you? 😉

Apple’s iCloud Photo Library seems to be working pretty well. The photos and videos sync, deleting one somewhere deletes copies elsewhere. It’s really clear they are “stored in the cloud” and you can download the full versions if you want. The copies are stored in one of these “Document Packages” which you can open like a folder (right-click!) — I’ve even created a shortcut to the 2015 folder in “Masters” so I can access the photos through Finder if needed. Added advantage, as it’s the native OSX way of doing things, photos show up in the “Photos category” when browsing for files to import into Lightroom, for example.

No Parking

So, simply using iCloud Photo Library would be a way to get my photos into Lightroom without having to physically connect my devices to the computer.

But… Lightroom has its own system for this, so if it works, wouldn’t it be even better? So far, it’s not working as seamlessly as the Apple system. First of all, because I sync everything on my iDevices with iCloud photo library, Lightroom for mobile seems to import a copy of each photo from each device. Although there is an OK plugin to find duplicates in your Lightroom library, wouldn’t a workflow that doesn’t create them in the first place be better?

Two things that I wasn’t sure about, but I now know:

  • photos from your iPad/iPhone are added to the Creative Cloud and Lightroom Desktop full-sized; photos from Lightroom Desktop shared to iPad/iPhone through Creative Cloud are shared through their smart previews
  • the photos synced from your iDevices are made available in a folder on your hard drive, so you can easily drag-and-drop them into your normal archive folders.

I’m running a few tests to see what happens to photos I delete. The photos app seems the best place for quick-and-dirty sorting (if only because when taking photos I’m directly in that app). What I am thinking of doing is turning on Lightroom syncing only from either the iPad or the iPhone, to avoid duplicates. The iPad, probably.

But does that mean I need to open Photos, wait for everything to sync, and then open Lightroom mobile to do it? So far it seems that it’s the way it works — Photos doesn’t seem to be uploading anything in the background from my iDevices, and Lightroom definitely isn’t. This is good when you want to save bandwidth, but less good when your various photo containers are up-to-date and you want things to “just work” invisibly, behind the scenes.

As I’ve been saying for a while, I’m really looking for the day this stuff “just works”.

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1 thought on “Photo Sync: Figuring Out Lightroom Mobile and iCloud Photo Library [en]

  1. After DAYS in Lightroom and Photos, I am feeling extremely frustrated.

    Lightroom Mobile imports duplicates from my various devices, because the photos on them are synced through iCloud.

    Photos imports duplicate photos from my devices when I connect them physically (because for some reason a small number of photos didn’t make it into iCloud). What makes some photos import a second time, and not others? Not a clue, but they were mainly screenshots.

    I can symlink to the Masters directly inside the Photos Library package to import photos from there into Lightroom. But Lightroom is sucking raw eggs at identifying duplicates (only a small number identified) and a whole bunch of photos seem to have lost their date (just upon import, mind you, not in the Photos application, they’re at the right date there).

    Fall back on importing photos directly into Lightroom through a physical connection? Forget it, most duplicates not identified.

    Gah.

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