Once upon a time, I was a happy user of Apple’s Aperture. I briefly tried Adobe Lightroom, but switched back to Aperture and used it until it was discontinued in 2015 at which point I transitioned to Apple’s new Photos. I’m not a professional photographer, photography is something I do for fun. By 2015 I was mostly just importing my photos, adding keywords, deleting and just doing a bit of minimal editing. And in 2023 that continues to be my process. Which is to say, I don’t spend a lot of time editing photos.
All that said, let me contradict myself. I do love photography and I enjoy sharing. 15 years ago that was primarily through Flickr. 2 years ago it was Instagram. Now it’s via my own blog at micro.blog. I’m taking the time to write this because a couple months ago I decided that it was finally time to start pulling in older images from my old Aperture Library that never made it into Photos. A few years worth of images, some jpgs and quite a few RAW files.
I suspect that many people working from an iPad will either use Photos or jump straight to Lightroom which is an excellent option for people that have the budget for a monthly subscription. I avoid Adobe because of the subscription model so Lightroom isn’t an option. But I wanted a few options not offered by Photos. So, after copying the photos over to an external SSD drive I turned to Darkroom and Pixelmator Photo to fill in the gaps left by Apple’s Photos app. Here’s the workflow that’s working for me.
For importing jpg images I just use Files to save to Photos. Quick and easy to do. For the RAW files I want to reduce the size of the file and convert it so I import from Files into Photos. But then I open Darkroom which allows has an option for exporting file quality and format. I’ve set it to jpeg 80% which typically results in files that are 800k to 1.2 mb. Perfect for my needs. The metadata remains intact. In my case with an older Canon it’s the date of photo, lens and exposure info and often location if I had added it. I select a group of images in Darkroom and then use the export option which saves them into Photos right along side of the RAW files which I delete. I’ll keep all of the original RAW and jpgs on the SSD as a back-up.
Next is to edit. Mostly I’m just using Apple’s Photos app for this. For images that require a bit more work, say, a photo of a bird that also has a portion of a bird feeder at the edge of an image, I’ll use Pixelmator Photo’s Repair tool which looks like a little bandaid up in the top right corner of the window. This tool is great for small imperfections but also works pretty well for even larger objects. Both Pixelmator Photo and Darkroom offer all of the other standard tools for photo editing such as saturation, highlights, shadows, etc. I’ve dabbled with them a bit but mostly just rely on Apple’s app.
The last step is the only step that currently requires the Mac and that’s batch adding metadata like keywords or captions. Photos on the iPad doesn’t do keywords at all and only allows captions to be changed one photo at a time. So for this step I’ll use Screens to connect to my Mac and use the Photos app there to add captions and/or keywords to groups of photos.
There are two iPad apps that offer options in this area of photo metadata. Hashphotos allows for adding keywords but unfortunately they are only stored in the Hashphotos database and not written into the photo files or the Photos app. That said, Hashphotos has some other, useful features so I wrote a mini-review. The other option is EXIF which offers a free and paid version. The free version will allow adding keywords and captions to photos but again, only one at a time. The paid version will do batch adding of keywords and captions. Exactly what I want except that it writes the info to the file itself which requires making a copy/duplicate of the file and for HEIC files from the iPhone it also requires that they be saved to jpg to change the meta data. I’m not inclined to do that.
So, for batch editing of metadata I’ll just continue using my Mac via Screens. It’s easy enough to do. Hopefully Apple will add these features to Photos for iPad.