Why The iPad Is My Favourite Tool For Editing Photographs

My post processing workflow is very consistent these days, and follows one of two paths.

1. The camera creates images I like on board so I don’t need to do anything except upload them to my MacBook by putting the memory card in a USB reader and importing en masse with Image Capture. These images then back up automatically to Google Photos.

For b/w photographs, my Pentax Q, Panasonic Lumix GF1 and Lumix LX3 perform straight out of camera magic admirably. The only camera that can do it for colour is my humble Golden IXUS, a Canon Digital IXUS 870 IS, to give it its full moniker.

2. I make the pictures in camera that I know will need some procesing, then upload to my MacBook and Google Photos as above. Then I use the Google Photos app on my Sony Xperia Android phone to convert those required to b/w, using Snapseed. As this is Google owned too, it syncs very smoothly with Google Photos and the process takes about 13 seconds for each image.

So this is the processing side.

For editing, the set up I find most simple and most rewarding visually, is the Google Photos app on my iPad. 

My phone has an excellent screen, and whilst not huge, it’s large enough and detailed enough to process with Snapseed.

But to then really separate the good from the less good, I prefer a larger screen to absorb and appreciate the images.

I can (and sometimes do) do the editing on my MacBook with its 15 inch screen.

But even with Chrome on full screen mode, each image still has the row of icons visible top right and the left and right arrows either side as your swiping through.

Plus the aspect ratio is different, so the 4:3 images which I make almost exclusively these days as the default of most digital compacts, appear with black borders at the sides.

A photograph in Google Photos viewed on MacBook Pro 15 inch

To delete an image, you click the rubbish bin icon then click again to confirm deletion.

With Google Photos on the iPad though, you can tap to make the icons vanish, and they stay vanished while you swipe through. 

And to delete an image, you tap to make the icons appear at the bottom, then tap the rubbish once and it’s done, automatically then displaying the next image.

A photograph in Google Photos viewed on iPad

As the iPad also has an aspect ratio of 4:3, my images fit exactly.

In other words, the iPad simply could not display the image in any more of a simple and optimised way, it’s the pure image, filling the screen to the very edges, with zero distractions. Bliss!

These differences might seem quite trivial. But hey, we’re photographers, visuals are important!

Finally, although the raw measurements of my MacBook screen are greater – 15 inches compared with the 9.7 inches of the iPad – because you use the iPad closer to your body and face, and a laptop is always much further away, the perceived difference is actually very little.

If anything the iPad feels bigger, because it’s closer, and hence takes up more of your immediate field of view, and your holding it your hands, it’s more tactile, more intimate.

And so I find the iPad with Google Photos is easily my preferred choice for editing photos, and the best digital way to connect with and enjoy them most fully.

How about you? What device/app combination do you prefer to use to edit your photos? 

Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget 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 I’m into right now.



10 thoughts on “Why The iPad Is My Favourite Tool For Editing Photographs”

  1. Funnily enough, I use my Snapseed on iPhone a lot nowadays. I process almost all photos that I take with the phone on Snapseed and love the colours that I can extract from it. I usually take the C41 film simulation and extend from there. Using iPad is great for sharing the photos to family as well. Unfortunately we miss out on the experience to see real prints. For that reason, I make prints, put them in albums and give to close family or friends. I try to avoid sharing pixels.

    PS quality is high. Please keep it up 🙂

    1. Thanks re the quality, I plan to! : )

      I really like Snapseed, it has a great balance of ease and complexity. You can either set it up so it takes 15 or 20 seconds to process a photo, or you can play around endlessly with all kinds of effects and filters.

      “I try to avoid sharing pixels” – this puts you in a very small (but certainly special) minority these days.

      PS/ Did you comment previously with the same avatar but a different URL? I recognise your face, but not the blog name/URL?

      1. I am guilty of sharing pixels as everyone else, through Flickr or Instagram, although I am trying to do it with a level of restraint. Your blog does not spray with photos, and it is highly appreciated, although I do like to see more of your wonderful photos. It’s a balance between words and images, that would tip in one direction or other depending on the contents or intent of the post.

        I find that printing and album-binding several photos for a close family/friend is very satisfying. The memories stay longer and the album is a great conversation starter. You combine visuals with the other senses and it makes the memory so much stronger.

        PS: it is the same person, but logging in from different devices :).

      2. I think you summarise it well. We need to be restrained, otherwise people just get overloaded and the impact of any one image is lost.

        But yes I agree that the balance between words and pictures changes, depending on the post.

        Sometimes with my posts, the photos are to specifically complement it (for example with my One Month One Camera experiment posts, I want to share photos that show what the particular camera can make), other times I just want a “pretty picture” to break up the text, and add to the overall atmosphere of the blog.

  2. If I want to edit photos, I also upload to Google Photos, and then process in the VSCO app. I can also wirelessly transfer photos from my GX7 to my phone, which is a slightly faster process when the wifi function works properly!

    1. Google Photos is very simple, which I like. It does have its own filters too, which I could possibly play around with and not need Snapseed, but it’s easy enough, and the post-Snapseed image saves immediately back into Google Photos too, so it’s very “real time”.

  3. Camera shots go straight into a battered desktop via a multi-card reader. That’s most direct & easiest; I loathe the cables and proprietary transfer/indexing software that all manufactures supply on CD; have no desire to clog the PC with it.

    Any editing/re-sizing, etc., is done on a 24″ HP monitor with Photoshop Elements (v. 12). Always wanted to try out a Wacom stylus & pad; maybe, one day.

    Phone shots (Note 9) get basic editing with Snapseed, and then Bluetoothed over to the desktop for sizing.

    Archival storage (TIFF) is on external hard drives. 4×6 (post cards), 5×7, & A4-ish prints are made at the same station with an HP printer on whatever decent matte or semi-gloss photo paper is on sale. Rarely (very rarely), really big prints get done at a family-run shop that we’re lucky to have in the neighborhood. Love seeing a huge print come slowly off a massive printer; they do a remarkable job of holding detail and saturation.

    That’s it. No tablet, no pad; the Note (our third Note) and its stylus suffice.

    An aside: can’t help but reflect on the time-sucking complexity of the process now known as workflow, the rigors of editing and excruciating detail of its tools and techniques. Then to recall a marked-up workprint of Avedon’s I once saw: that would have wanted true microsurgical fine-motor dexterity and the numinous multi-limbs of Shiva. So much easier nowadays, is it not?

    1. William, complete with you about the software. When I got my first “proper” camera in 2011, a Nikon Coolpix, I dutifully installed the Nikon software. Always hated it, it looked like PC software circa 1995 (all grey and blocky) and was very clunky. Slow to recognise the camera and import too.

      These days, as I said I just use a multi card reader too, which covers SD, xD-Picture and CF and all just import simply via Apple Image Capture – which doesn’t try to do anything but import your photos into the folder you want them. Pure and simple! Then that automatically backs up to Google Photos.

      Yes, I cannot imagine ever having the patience to go through the various processes of old school developing and printing. Nor do I have the dexterity!

      Swiping and tapping in an app is within the reach of most of us!

  4. I have three separate workflows. The simplest is for iPhone photos. They go directly into Apple Photos where they are catalogued, edited and printed with a MacBook. They are backed up in the iCloud.

    Pictures from a proper digital camera are loaded into the MacBook with a USB cable and Image Capture. They are filed in a set of nested Finder folders backed up in the iCloud. They are edited and printed with Affinity Photo.

    Film pictures are scanned with a digital camera and loaded into the MacBook with the USB cable and Image Capture. They are inverted into positives and the levels initially set with an Affinity Photos script. Each roll of film is then printed as a contact page with ContactPage Pro. The pictures are backed up by the physical negatives and contact pages and by the RAW scans in the MacBook and the iCloud. Further editing and printing are done with Affinity Photo on the MacBook.

    So there are three approaches to future proofing the images other than the prints. The iPhone pictures are completely dependent on proprietary software. The digital camera pictures are dependent on the Apple file structure and the jpg format but otherwise software independent. The film pictures are independent of hardware, software and even electricity!

    1. I love the independence of film prints!

      I’m writing at post at the moment that connects with this, in a way a follow on from the previous post about where our digital images might be in 10 or 20 years’ time…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s