My Casual Photo Workflow

After my trip to the Netherlands and Sweden last week, I’ve thought a bit about my casual photography workflow experiments I tried during the trip. I brought just the Leica Q2 and my iPad Pro. No laptop, no interchangable lens camera- just the 28mm wide angle camera and the SD card reader for the iPad’s USB-C connector.

I set the Q2 to record monochrome JPEGs (high contrast B&W) plus RAW. The JPEG setting gives me a rendering of the image in the electronic viewfinder (EVF) in black and white, a direct representation how the capture will render the scene using the camera’s JPEG processing engine. We’ve gotten used to the instant feedback of capturing a digital image and seeing it on the back of the camera right away. We can assess focus, exposure and composition and try again if something can be improved. When the EVF is showing you the monochrome conversion, it’s a continuous feedback loop where everything can be adjusted on the fly during the capture process. Instead of imagining or as Ansel Adams termed it “previsualizing” the final image, one sees it presented right there. The JPEG provides the casual, immediate capture. The RAW is there for more typical post-processing to a finished image.

I transfer images from the SD card to the iPad. While it’s possible to directly ingest the JPEG plus RAW into the Photos app and the iCloud database, it’s a lot of data and I really only want the JPEGs for immediate use. I’m really taken by out of camera JPEG in my current cameras. There’s some computational imaging and sensor data manipulation that surpasses what basic RAW processing gives me on the computer. So the RAWs can wait to get transferred on the Mac when I get home and the JPEGs are a reference of what I was looking at when the image was captured.

Transferring images is a nice pause for a review of the trip and amy image making. It becomes an opportunity for a quick selection of images for the database during the trip. So only the JPEG images that I want to see forever associated with the trip get uploaded. The only method I’ve found to do that is with the Files app on the iPad. It’s easy enough to directly look at the file directory on the SD card from the camera and select only the decent JPEGs for transfer to the iPad. At this point, I found it better to be less stringent and more accepting of duplicates and poor looking images since it’s possible to delete them from the Photos app later on after viewing on a big screen at high resolution. If during post processing I create a better version of an image that can get exported as a JPEG from Photoshop or Capture One and added to the database generated from the in camera JPEGs on the trip.

I like to send images straight to instagram from Photos using the iPhone or iPad. It’s an immediate, casual workflow with minimal post processing. By the way, I found a nice tip on using Instagram on the iPad since there’s no iPad specific Instagram app available. You just need to download the Instagram app to the iPad and sign in, even though it’s an iPhone app that isn’t full size on the iPad. Because, you see, the app provides the iPad share sheet with the Instagram interface, making it possible to share an image from Photos or other iPad photography apps to Instagram with location and caption.

Quick processing on the iPad during the trip is still a matter of method development. I’ve edited some photos in Photoshop for iPad and I’ve rediscovered SnapSeed for the iPad, which is a legacy Nik photo editor that remained with Google when the Nik plugins were sold off to DxO. Snapseed has some of the basics (tonal contrast, control points) that I use routinely for post processing, so is an easy way to get some of my typical style on the iPad from these out of camera JPEGs.

Overall, bringing a casual photography approach into my travel photography has had the positive effect of deeper involvement in picture taking and sharing during the trip. Image making is more integral and less of a special activity that I need to find time for. On so many business trips, the camera has gone along for the ride, never leaving it’s place in the backpack. I’m hopeful in the long run to develop a more consistent habit of taking photos, including some images on film