Photography Beyond The Light(Room)

Previously I spoke about giving up Adobe LightRoom, partly because it was vastly over complex (and overwhelming) for my needs, and partly due to the locked in yearly subscription plans I resented.

I tried to end it three months ago but they wanted something like four month’s subs to leave, so I tried their “special customer” offer of three months free, then bailed.

So now my LightRoom paid subscription is over, here’s what I’m using instead.

I mostly used LightRoom to give photographs made with digital cameras a little extra something I couldn’t do (or didn’t think I could do) in camera.

So I was shooting RAW, importing into LightRoom, applying a preset, then exporting again.

In terms of the final images, it worked well, and for my Pentax DSLRs especially it was giving me colour images I liked. 


But my photography has evolved over the last six to eight months. 

I haven’t used the DSLRs since maybe last October, when I bought a Ricoh GRD III. This camera was a complete gamechanger – more than excellent results (for my needs) with a fantastic user interface and in a pocket sized, superb handling package.

Another factor was reverting to black and white for the autumn, something the Ricoh was made for.

Currently I use the GRD, an older Ricoh GX100, a Pentax Q and my Sony Xperia smartphone. 

With the Pentax I have now found a way to set up in camera to produce b/w images I really like. So there’s no need for LightRoom, or anything else anyway. It’s as close to irreversible photography as I’ve got.

With the Ricohs, I shoot in a b/w mode too (so I can see what it will look like on screen), upload the images of each shoot to my MacBook, which then uploads them to Google Photos automatically.

From there I use my Xperia with Snapseed to process any photos I want to keep, and delete the rest.

If I’m using my Xperia, this also automatically uploads to Google Photos, and again I use Snapseed on the phone to process.

With all of these cameras I just use JPEGs now too. RAW was an extra step/complexity I didn’t need.

I use the phone and not my MacBook for processing partly because I like Snapseed and have it set up so it gives me a look I want, and partly because every edited image automatically then uploads to Google Photos too.

After an initial editing of each batch of photos, I regularly revisit Google Photos, deleting any further images I don’t feel are good enough. And most days I download one or two I do like (post processed with the Xperia) back to my MacBook and upload them to Flickr.

I then use Flickr partly to display the photos in posts here on 35hunter.


In finding this new workflow, I’ve not thought twice about LightRoom, or indeed Hipstamatic which I was using previously on my old iPhone and my iPad. 

In fact, though I bought the iPad last year as a potential replacement for my ageing MacBook, since restoring the latter, getting the Xperia phone and switching to Snapseed instead of the iOS only Hipstamatic, the iPad has become almost redundant.

I use the Xperia for processing, and the MacBook with its obviously much bigger screen for a final decision on photos before sharing on Flickr and here on 35hunter.

I also use the MacBook for writing blog posts, as although the iPad is just about usable, I find it so much easier using a proper physical keyboard and trackpad than the iPad. 

And just things like multi finger gestures and keyboard shortcuts that I do so instinctively and without thinking on the MacBook aren’t possible on the iPad.

Something simple like highlighting a sentence and making it bold I find fiddly and tedious on the iPad. On the MacBook it’s three clicks to highlight, cmd-B to make bold, taking all of two seconds.

The apps on the iPad for things like WordPress and Flickr are frustrating in what they lack, so I end up just accessing everything through Chrome as I do on my MacBook. Again it’s so much quicker and easier with the latter.

I like that all I need on the MacBook is Chrome – all other stuff like WordPress, Flickr and Google Photos is through that. No need for multiple apps that don’t do enough anyway. 

It’s a similar story using my wife’s ten year old HP notebook, recently reincarnated as a ChromeBook.

The only app I need is the Chromium browser. I still prefer the keyboard, trackpad and screen on my MacBook, but the HP is an easy second choice over the iPad, due to a decent enough screen, keyboard and trackpad. How I never thought I’d say that!

I don’t feel anything is lacking in this set up, so it’s what I’ll continue with for the foreseeable future. 

Making photos with digital compacts, storing on Google Photos, processing with Snapseed on my Xperia, saving on my MacBook (plus Google Photos, plus a regular TimeMachine back up to an external HD).

Simple, efficient, and importantly, enjoyable.

What does your set up look like these days, and how happy are you with it?

We’d love to hear your thoughts and perspective below. (Remember to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

Thanks for looking. Please share this post with others you feel will enjoy it too. If you’re interested, this is what my photography life looks like right now.

25 thoughts on “Photography Beyond The Light(Room)”

  1. So we are doing gear posts today! Incidentally I just posted about my new found joy of using the iPad in my film photography world.
    Each his own, but I think I can soon safely ditch my Mac. I like going light with the iPad and as you say, slimming down on the apps. Lightroom is a distant memory only.
    What I like in the iPad is it’s gorgeous screen resolution, way better than any computer screen. And I can use it by itself on the go or on my desk with a nice stand and bluetooth keyboard.
    Manipulating photos on the iPad is the real benefit though. With a stylus you have such a great control. Better than with a mouse or trackpad.
    The problem is adapting to working on the thing. I had to change my workflow and find different solutions but now I’m nearly there!

    1. I think these are more like How We’re Making Do With Less Gear posts… : )

      Ironic how you’re finding every more use for your iPad and I’m going the other way.

      I must admit that for viewing in the Flickr app, or Google Photos, full screen with no icons etc around, the iPad makes for a very lovely photo viewing/displaying device. Hey maybe I’ll repurpose mine as another digital photo frame while I figure out what else to do with it?

      It’s mostly the text typing and editing stuff I struggle with on the iPad, for more tactile apps like editing in Snapseed or Hipstamatic, or as I just for purely viewing photos they’re fabulous.

      The stylus sounds interesting, but wouldn’t help me for typing.

      Plus I just have this idea that the iPad should be a portable grab and go device. If I also have to remember to take a stylus, stand, keyboard etc, it’s too cumbersome. That’s just my view of course.

      1. I use the keyboard only at my desk. The Apple bluetooth keyboard or any other good one connects rock solid and offers most keyboard shortcuts I used on the Mac. Plus it has the media keys for brightness, volume, music playback….

        On the road I use the iPad bare bones and it’s really a bit more involved to type. Doable though with some practice.

        Making do with less is the word really. Something I really long for… now just keeping my XA2 would be stretching the idea a bit too far…. but who knows

      2. I guess if you have a desk for writing that can be permanently set up with a keyboard, stand etc, it’s easier. I don’t, I use the dining table for my MacBook, occasionally on my lap on the sofa. Just too much to set up with the iPad, for me.

        Plus I’ve not enjoyed any machine (phone, iPad or computer) as much as my trusty old MacBook Pro, so while it’s got life in it, I want to make the most of it!

        My next machine will likely be a ChromeBook, kind of the missing link between MacBook and iPad in many ways. Lighter and more portable than the MacBook with a simpler OS, but still a larger screen and proper keyboard compared with iPad.

        You might do a one month one camera project with your XA2?

  2. Wait…what? You can turn an old laptop into a Chromebook?

    I’ve got an old laptop that’s damn near useless it’s so slow–three Chrome tabs open and it grinds to a halt. This might just be the solution.

  3. Holy-Moley! Me, same as I’ve always done since the advent of digital and RAW: Photoshop Elements, tweak the RAW file, convert & save as a TIFF. File on the drive and an external backup. Done. Email and rare Internet post as a JPEG.

    Easy, but I make few photos and keep fewer still.

    That said, I am admittedly less discerning and, ah, frankly, less talented when it comes to seeing and extracting the full potential of a shot, so LR, etc., would be wasted on me. I really admire those who can master the alchemy of post-processing software, but the Himalayan learning curve and complexity invoke the same dread as a Calculus midterm. So phobia, laziness, and sloth at play there, too.

    Still, the appeal of a Wacom and stylus is very attractive, so I may give that a go…if there’s a ‘quick-start’ mode…

    1. Speak to Frank and what he’s doing with his iPad and stylus, might be right up your street.

      I confess too that with photography I just want to enjoy the experience of being out making photos then apply just a quick, simple tweak (if any) then be done.

      Just can’t be bothered to spend hours in LightRoom or anything else.

  4. My workflow has actually changed a bit recently!

    If I want to edit photos taken with my Lumix GX7, I transfer them from my Mac to my iPad using a memory card and the camera connector kit thingy, and edit with the VSCO app. I could just transfer straight from the camera using wifi but I prefer to use the bigger iMac screen to filter out the images I want to edit first. In the past I would do this on my phone but I found it a tad frustrating, and then I would end up with multiple copies of photos (unedited and edited versions) in my Google Photos and this drove me a little crazy.

    All photos (film and digital) I upload to Flickr (I keep them private now as I’ve decided to no longer be active on there), and also it’s super easy to share from there to Instagram. I don’t really like having all my “good” photos and random phone snaps mixed up together in Google Photos so I use Flickr for cloud storage instead. I used OneDrive in the past, but I much prefer how you can organise photos with flickr. Once an image has been shared to Instagram, I also add a tag to that photo and change that description so that I know at first glance that it was shared and *when*.

    I “only” have my iMac (it’s actually my sister’s 8-year-old that I had to start using when my less than 2-year-old Windows laptop died!), my iPad Pro, and my Pixel 2 phone. This workflow works for me because it’s super simple and involves very few apps, and keeps my phone photography and “proper” photography separate (I’m a little OCD).

    1. Hi Melissa, thanks for your thoughts and sharing your ‘flow.

      I know what you mean about Google Photos and the difference between family snapshot photos and what I would call “intentional” photos being all in the mix together. I haven’t figured out a way to separate them yet. You can make albums, but I think when you first upload they all just go in the same overall pool together.

      What I do like is now I’m thinking of Google Photos as my only working batch of photos. So once I decide I like something enough on there to keep and share I download the processed version to my MacBook Pro. So eventually for each month I have a set of photos on Google Photos and a back up of the same set on my MBP, which itself is backed up to an external HD via TimeMachine.

      Then I can just delete everything from my phone (the Google Photos app asks you if you want to “free up space on device” regularly anyway) knowing I have everything saved I want, and keeping the phone lean and light in memory terms.

      I could use Flickr with its unlimited storage, but somehow I find Google Photos a much more light and breezy app to use for flicking through, deleting and downloading photos. Plus with my phone I can process straight from Google Photos. I go into Google Photos, Edit in > Snapseed, then do the processing, then it automatically saves the processed photo back in Google Photos. That’s it.

      I also know what you mean about your “proper” and “phone” photography. I used to be super organised and pedantic about saving and filing everything. But I don’t want to spend so much time now doing that, and I don’t have loads of different camera/lens/film combos to track anymore.

      Plus I love the simple idea that a photo is judged purely on what’s presented in the image, not what camera/lens/film/process it went through to arrive there. It’s very liberating! going through a few photography books recently, there is absolutely I wrote more about this just a few weeks back –

  5. These days my computing equipment is an iPhone and an iMac. All of my digital photos are taken with the iPhone. All of my digital photo PP and printing is done with Photos on the iPhone. All of my digital photos are in the iCloud. Some of them are also 4×6 prints. The iMac is not involved. Pretty simple.

    All of my film photos, and my father’s, dating back as far as 1936, are, first and foremost, archival stored negatives. All of my film scans are stored on the SS drive of the iMac, backed up by Carbonite. Also pretty simple. It’s the PP and printing of my film scans where things get more complicated. I’ll try a couple of diagrams:

    Negative > [Fuji X-T20] > RAW > [Iridient X-Transformer] > unedited DNG > [Affinity Photo] > edited JPG > [ContactPage Pro] > contact sheet of the roll.

    Negative > [Fuji X-T20] > RAW > [Iridient X-Transformer] > unedited DNG > [Affinity Photo] > edited JPG > [Epson Print Layout] > finished print.

    All of this is done on the iMac. The iPhone is not involved. Every App is the best one I have found for the particular task. Because I use a lot of batch functions, macros and presets none of it takes very long. But I sure am dependent on a lot of software.

    1. Doug, thanks for your input.

      I really like the simplicity of your iPhone set up, sounds similar to what I do, just with different apps.

      The other set up sounds like you’ve invested enough time in to know what works best for you. But yeh it does sound dependent on multiple stages and software.

      To be completely frank, I’m just too lazy to be bothered with going through all that myself! I’m more interested in getting out making pictures than looking at old ones, but I appreciate this is a whole other aspect of photography, and you have a large archive you’re working through.

      I’m sure even though you’re depending on many different software applications, that if any became no longer useable, discontinued or whatever, there would be a useable alternative out there.

      Five or ten years down the line, who knows what we’ll all be using?

      1. Coincidentally, Frank Lehnen just found an iOS app that can make a PDF contact sheet of a roll of film scans. An iPad is looking more and more interesting.

  6. Hi Dan

    Had a read and was interested in the way things have evolved for you. I wanted to know what “irreversible photography “ means, but the link you kindly supplied, didn’t work.

    Best wishes, Kate

      1. Re Scheduling, I guessed that might be the case when I read the post a day or two ago. Is the terminology yours? (I haven’t read the other post yet.) I love the concept and the way you approach it in all the preparation you do before taking a photo. I’m so glad that this skills are being nurtured, not forgotten!

      2. Well yes I haven’t heard anyone else using the term irreversible photography. But it’s not patented or anything. 🙂

      3. Blogging query, Dan. I can “like” a post here in the WP App reader, but not when on the actual blog page. So I read the post at the link (which expanded on my understanding of irreversible photography 😃👍🏼) and wanted to “like” to say that I read it, but that option is not available when viewing the post in Safari. Not sure why that should be?

      4. Kate, that’s because I haven’t figured out how to disable it in Reader yet! I have in my blog.

        I really don’t like, er, “likes”. My view is if you like something then tell the blogger, and why.

        I just see “likes” as part of the superficial, fleeting and relentless social media treadmill – scan, lick, move on, all in less than a second. All surface and no feeling. It’s the opposite of how I want to consume content, so want to try to lead by example.

        So now you know. : )

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