Goodbye Lightroom? Hello Google+ Photos

What started as a long term experiment, and is now a preference, I am now using a Chromebook at work and home. My work holdout in this conversion to the cloud was Microsoft Excel, now comfortably replaced by Google Sheets. At home it is Lightroom.

Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop are staples for many photographers, both professional and amateur. I've been processing my photos in Lightroom since version 3 of the software. Lightroom is a fantastically powerful and flexible program allowing me to edit and tweak, recover detail, convert to B&W, and in every way control and shape any image to my vision for that image. I have thousands of images organized and published through Lightroom. Lightroom has become integral to my photographic workflow.

Lightroom, unfortunately,  does not run on a Chromebook.

For several months I have used my Chromebook with a Remote Desktop connection to the family's Windows PC. Through a RDP client, I can sit on the couch with my Chromebook and remotely edit photos in Lightroom on the PC. While the setup worked well from a technical standpoint, I found it occasionally awkward and lose track of what window and machine I was working in, as the base image and editing was on a remote PC, but I was working in social media and Blogger on my Chromebook.

Lightroom on a Chromebook via a Windows Remote Desktop client
Using a Chromebook has simplified my computing experience but has complicated my photographic post processing process. Could I find a way to simplify my photography experience by streamlining and moving my entire workflow - editing, managing, publishing - to the web, and not compromise the final product?

I started to explore photo editors available for Chromebooks, and at some point I may write up reviews of several. Long story short, my new photo manager, editor, and publisher of choice is Google+ Photos.

I started my migration to Google+ Photos by first editing images in Lightroom and then uploading and tweaking in Google+ Photos. A couple weeks ago, after a tour of a nearby dairy farm, I decided to skip Lightroom and go directly to Google+. Now I am not sure if I will go back to Lightroom.

Basically my new workflow is:

1. Upload photos to Google+ Photos where I review, delete, re-arrange, rename, and organize my unpublished (and later, published) images.

2. Edit Photos. The integrated Google+ Photo Editor, while seeming simplistic on the surface, is surprisingly robust. Yes, it has Instagram-like filters that many "serious" photographers dismiss, but it it also has significant manual controls. The only thing I have found lacking so far, and my #1 feature to add, is a graduate filter tool to balance brightness between sky/land and windows/interiors.

3. Publish and Share Photos. Here is where storing, organizing, and editing online really pays off. I am now a click away sharing images to multiple forums. Yes, Lightoom has extensions allowing images to be exported to multiple locations and services, but, for me, it is easier to simply work online, on any device, and moving images around vs restricting myself to a single computer and pushing images out.

Here are a few images from a visit small dairy farm in Connecticut. I used a Fujfilm X-E1 with a 18-55mm lens and a X-M1 with a 35mm lens. JPG files were uploaded to Google+ to organize, edit, and publish.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent post. I have been using snap seed on my iPad for sometime now. I believe that the Google plus web application, is quite similar. Very powerful. I certainly am interested in your experiences using your Chromebook exclusively. For better or worse, I think that the web-based workflow is the way of the future. I think professionals will have a hard time with the migration. When you are dealing with 2000 wedding photos, light room certainly has its advantages. For the rest of us that just want to create great photographs, google plus May be the ticket.