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Issue #84: Getting back to photography 📸

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I’ve been bringing my camera, a Ricoh GRIII, with me these past couple of weeks. You didn’t expect me to take photos with my iPads, right? I rarely shoot with my iPhone either, especially not now that I’ve downgraded from the iPhone 13 Pro, to the iPhone 13 mini. The cameras on all (modern) iPhone models are great, but it’s not the same as taking photos with a dedicated device. Currently, my favorite is the Ricoh GRIII, but there are plenty of other great options out there.

Anyway, I’ve been bringing the dedicated camera with me regularly recently, as I said, and I love it. What I don’t love is interacting with the camera when it comes to actually getting the photos onto a computing device. That’s where the iPhone camera truly shines because everything just syncs. With my Ricoh GRIII, or any other camera I’ve got access to, not so much.

Boy, is that annoying. Let’s talk a bit about where I’m at, with these things.

My photo workflow

I’ve written about my photo workflow before, back in Switch to iPad #37. In short, this is what I do, and use.

  1. Snap photos with a dedicated camera.
  2. Import photos into Photos.
  3. Touch up photos in Pixelmator Photo.
  4. Edit photos in Darkroom.

This can be done with an iPad, but also an iPhone, or even a Mac. Granted, if I use the latter, I’ll touch up the photos in Pixelmator Pro, but that’s the only difference. That, and the user interface lacking an Apple Pencil, or just touch, but apart from that, the apps are the same.

Right, so that’s the workflow. Let’s move on, shall we?

iPad trumps Mac

Ah, that’s always a nice heading to write, isn’t it? I’ve got access to multiple Macs, and they’re all great devices. I especially like the new 14” MacBook Pro, which I picked up because we’re moving offices and all my other Macs were stationary (M1 Mac minis and iMac). As you know, my work at Divide & Conquer requires me to rely on Macs at times, even though I prefer to do most things on an iPad.

When it comes to photography, there should be no doubt in your mind what device I prefer. The iPad, especially the 12.9” iPad Pro with its wonderful screen, is a better experience for working with photos to me. It even trumps the 14” MacBook Pro, which is also equipped with an extraordinary screen, thanks to two things:

  1. The way you interact with the interface.
  2. The Apple Pencil.

Remember, the apps are the same – Darkroom on macOS is just as good as the same app (literally) on iPadOS – but the way you interact with them is not. Touch is just superior for working with photos, and even more so if you add the Apple Pencil to the mix.

But, this isn’t why the iPad trumps the Mac. It’s Photos, and importing photos to it. That’s such a big deal that it requires its very own heading.

Importing photos sucks

I can’t believe this is still a thing, honestly. Importing photos to various computers over the years has always been troublesome. I used to have a lot of Nikon DSLRs, and getting a computer – Macs mostly, but not solely – to recognize it was hit-and-miss. Plug in, keep your fingers crossed, swear, and do it all over again, until it just worked, that one time, for no particular reason.

The only thing that solves this problem, universally, is importing directly from an SD card. After all, photos are just files. That always work, but it’s not without its dangers if you don’t have double SD cards in your camera (the Ricoh GRIII does not, but my old Fuji X-T2 does). You see, it has happened on two occasions that an SD card, upon eject, has become corrupt. That’s no fun if it’s your only copy of said photos. Again, ”just twice”, and I never actually lost any photos because I’m paranoid, but it still scares me. I prefer to import though other means.

This brings us to my importing photos situation. The Ricoh GRIII has a companion app that you can connect to, using the camera’s built-in wifi hotspot, or using Bluetooth. It works, but it’s a horrible experience because the app is just plain bad, and the connection will drop. There’s no risk of deleting the images, or messing with the SD card, though because you’re just transferring copies of your photos, not actually moving the files. That’d be stupid. So, it works, but it’s horrible, and I hate it.

Then there’s plugging in the camera using USB-C, and importing directly to Photos. This actually works just fine, even though it can take some time to render several gigabytes of photos in the interface. You can easily select which photos you want to import in Photos, either individually or based on when you shot them. Photos also keeps track of which images are already in your library, so no need to import them again. This works, overall, great, but it’s not that simple, obviously.

Let’s start with the fact that Photos on a Mac won’t recognize my Ricoh GRIII, at least not most of the time. That’s right, for some reason it just doesn’t work. This isn’t the only camera that I’ve had this issue with, Photos on macOS isn’t as camera-friendly as Photos on iPadOS. And that, my friends, is a reason as good as any to use iPadOS for your photos, rather than macOS, at least if Photos is part of your workflow. You could, of course, bypass it entirely, but I like the iCloud backup, and it fits my overall backup solution across multiple devices.

Here’s another little anomaly regarding Photos, by the way. When I’m importing photos from my Fuji X-T2, Photos will ask if I’d like to delete them from the camera when done. Not so when importing from the GRIII, for whatever reason. Now, I usually don’t dare to delete anything from a camera’s SD card until I know it’s been synced with iCloud, but it’s still a weird thing, isn’t it?

Photos, it’s weird.™️

I’ll leave you with a final thought, something I’m struggling with, and that’s what to do with the actual photos. You could print them and stick them in a physical album, share them on Instagram, resurrect your old Flickr account, tweet them, start a photo blog, or just send them to friends and family. I just don’t know what I’m going to do with my newfound photography needs.

What are you doing with your photos? Tell me, by hitting reply (if you’re reading this in your inbox), or tweeting to @tdh. I’d love to hear how you’re dealing with your photography, serious or not.

Until next time, take care!

Thord D. Hedengren