The Lightroom mobile Driven Raw Workflow
April 22, 2014
5 comment

Last week, I posted an article about how Lightroom mobile will upload your original JPG images that you import on to your iPad. This week, I wanted to expand on that idea and show you how to take advantage of that capability and create a Lightroom mobile-driven workflow…a Lightroom mobileflow…for your raw images.

The idea behind this mobileflow is to provide a way for photographers to use Lightroom mobile out on the road armed with only a camera and an iPad in a way that allows them to easily bring that work back to the studio. Here is what I came up with.

adobe lightroom mobile to desktop raw workflow

The Lightroom mobile to Desktop Raw Workflow (Click image to embiggen!)

Read on for the details!

Import JPG To iPad

importing images on to an ipad

Lightroom Fanatic – Import Images On To iPad

Since Lightroom mobile will only work with the JPG images, you will have to shoot raw+JPG for this workflow to…work. You can do that on the same memory card or, if your camera supports it, shoot JPG to one card and raw to the other. That will make importing to the iPad easier. Any JPG will do, but the higher quality you capture, the better it will look on the iPad during the edit process.

Import In To A Lightroom mobile Collection

importing images in to lightroom mobile

Lightroom Fanatic – Import Images In To Lightroom mobile

Next, import the images in to Lightroom mobile. Create a new collection and add the images that were import in the previous step.

Edit In Lightroom mobile

editing an image in lightroom mobile

Lightroom Fanatic – Editing in Lightroom mobile

Go ahead and edit your images using the (limited) tools provided by Lightroom mobile.


Through the magic of the internet and the cloud and all that is good in the world, your original JPG images and your edits will be synchronized with your desktop instance of Lightroom.

Import Raw To Lightroom Desktop

importing raw images lightroom desktop

Lightroom Fanatic – Import Raw Images In Lightroom

Back in your desktop Lightroom, import the raw images from the shoot. You can rename your files if you want, but for the purpose of this demo, it makes it easier to match images using the file name. Eventually, if someone does create a plug-in for Lightroom to do this, a file name match might make it easier to accomplish. At this point, you will also want to do your metadata and keyword adjustments.

Copy And Paste Develop Settings

Once your raw images are in Lightroom, here comes the magic. Going in to your mobile collection and find one of your keepers. Right-click on it, and select Develop Settings > Copy Settings.

lightroom paste develop settings to an image

Lightroom Fanatic – Copy Develop Settings

On the Copy Settings dialog, you can selectively include and exclude any adjustment that you don’t want to carry over from Lightroom mobile but, for the purpose of this demo, I’ve included everything, even those that Lightroom mobile doesn’t support.

lightroom copy development settings

Lightroom Fanatic – Lightroom Copy Settings

Now, find the corresponding raw file and, you guessed it, right-click on the image and select Develop Settings > Paste Settings.

lightroom paste develop settings

Lightroom Fanatic – Paste Develop Settings

Your raw image is now at the same point in your development process as the image on your iPad.

Finish Processing

If you need to do any additional adjustments to your image, go for it.  Maybe you want to clone out that blemish. Or maybe you want to add a vignette. Who am I to tell you when your image is done? But at least you didn’t have to start from scratch when you got back to your desktop.

But Wait…There’s More!

You might be thinking “Hey, if I wanted to incorporate all of those changes I just made on the desktop back to Lightroom mobile, I could just copy and paste the development settings from my raw images back to my JPG images.” You would be correct! But, there’s a better way. Now that you are on your desktop, simply put the raw images in to a synchronized collection. Lightroom will generate some smart previews showing all of your changes on your iPad, and any changes you make again on your iPad will be automatically synchronized and reflected on your desktop. This is the nirvana state that I’m sure Adobe is working towards, but until we can originate our raw workflow from the iPad, they aren’t there yet. But hopefully with this tutorial, you can still take advantage of Lightroom mobile.


, , , , , , ,

How To Automatically Launch Lightroom By Inserting A Media Card

The act of getting my images from camera in to Lig...

Read more

Multiple Computer Lightroom Workflow Using Catalog Export

Spring is here! Unless you live in Colorado or Nor...

Read more

Big Lightroom Catalog? Make Sure Backblaze Is Backing It Up!

As Lightroom has continued to mature, it’s n...

Read more

There are 5 comments

  • Charlie says:

    Thanks for the articles; the ability to start my edit workflow on my iPad before I get home is quite appealing but in its current state it doesn’t work for me. I only shoot RAW so I’m going to wait until hopefully LR mobile can import RAWs. Also, the whole syncing changes back at the desktop on a per photo basis sounds like a lot of extra hassle – how would you know which changes to sync for each photo without an amazing memory?

    I think the process you describe really only works if you only shoot in JPG. The ‘workaround’, for me at least, seems practically unrealistic. But hopefully we’ll get RAW support in the future…

    • dave says:

      Thanks for the comment, Charlie.

      I definitely agree that LR mobile is more useful for JPG shooters.

      I will say, though, that the mobile workflow for raw isn’t as impractical as it sounds. When you get back to your desktop, Lightroom will show all of the images that were edited on the JPG, so you don’t need to remember which ones you processed. I’ve also got a tutorial coming out on Tuesday that will show you how to speed up the synchronize process, and another video coming out on Thursday that will show you the whole thing put together. It’s still manual, but you could potentially synchronize all your changes in a few minutes with the new technique.

      Honestly, synchronizing changes back to the raw isn’t the limitation for me. It’s the lack of tools and presets in mobile.

    • dave says:

      You’ve got some amazing shots on your flickr stream, by the way!

  • Jeremy says:

    Can this be done in a batch process rather than one photo at a time?

    • dave says:

      Hi, Jeremy. If you do the same adjustment, you could copy/paste from one image to many. But if you do individual edits to all the images (most likely), I’m not sure there is a way to apply the different changes in a batch, but I’ll dig around! Thanks for the comment!