Seamlessly Importing full-res RAW images into Lightroom without touching a computer

Patrons: This is our beta-test of workflow articles. Before we get into the real meat I wanted to see how the format works for you and make any tweaks. So this one will go public on Monday, but the coming articles will be premium tier-only. Please let me know what you think of the format!

Hello everyone! One of the big areas we wanted to get into right away on Patreon is our various workflows because, it’s never really fit into our tight one-day workshop schedules, and we have a number of post-processing and delivery workflows that are relatively or extremely rare, surprisingly useful, and take a bit of explaining.

Since this is a new venture we want to make sure the format is the best it can be. I know all explainers are done in video format these days, but we find that’s often not the best way to do it, so we are going to be working in a hybrid form — mostly text, but using videos where it’s handy — and seeing how it goes.

This is a test run, taking us through a workflow that is handy to the entire broader class of photographer, professional or not. Deeper, more advanced and esoteric workflows to achieve specific professional goals are following soon for patrons only.

This is such a basic part of my personal "messing-around and taking snapshots" workflow that I hadn’t even though to teach it — once we get used to something we forget what is and is not common knowledge. But I was just taking some random personal photos yesterday with the EOS R and five minutes later was texting out files edited from the RAWs, having never gone anywhere near my computer, and Tatiana stopped me and said “Wait, what? You should teach *that.*”

So here’s we are.

What you’ll need:

An Adobe Creative Cloud subscription: Honestly, if you are reading this page, you should have this. I know there was a lot of controversy about Adobe going a subscription model but let's face it: It was because most people before this were stealing Photoshop, and those of us who weren't were because we were tied to larger organizations. It's a crazy-good deal.


A camera. Since I am testing the EOS R for review, it’s what I happened to use this time. Any camera will work, but the whole thing is a lot easier if your camera shoots to SD cards, because next you’ll need …

An Apple SD to Lightning reader (Link: [Apple Lightning to SD Card Camera Reader MJYT2AM/A B&H Photo](). Yes, sorry, this is assuming you have an iOS device. On Android there are many different ways to get images from an SD card to the device, depending on the model. If you’re using an XQD or CF camera, this can still be done, but it’s way more annoying since it generally needs a different adapter *and* separate card reader.

Insert card into adapter, insert adapter into phone. This pops up:

Here Gavin was sleeping in a super-weird position and, of course, changed positions by the time I got the camera 10 seconds later, but I just grabbed a shot of him in a rare state of rest. It was super-duper-dark (f/1.2, 1/15th, ISO 12,800) so I grabbed a bunch to make sure I had a sharp one. You can see before the previews load it tells you what is RAW, JPG, or a movie.

If you also have images you don’t want to import, just hit “import selected.” Bam, now you have full RAW files on your phone, but only ready to be edited in Photos. No thank you — let’s bring them into Lightroom, through the Lightroom Mobile app

(Client image counts and things that reference a forthcoming, super-secret, this-is-awesome-and-no-one-does-it workflow removed)

As the images are coming in, they are making full-resolution copies of the RAW files to the Lightroom app and then to the Adobe cloud, giving us a few immediate goals:

1. Checking the import to make sure everything is coming in right

2. Quickly selecting images for output — particularly when taking simple personal photos like this so that we can

3. Remove the excess RAW files from Lightroom and then

4. Remove the extra copies from our Apple Photos filesystem

Being able to do this quickly and systematically each time will keep your phone from being overwhelmed with multiple copies of RAW files and keep you from having to splurge for a 1Tb phone.

Performing all of these tasks is a bit complicated your first few runs through, so I’ve made a video showing these steps. Apologies for the selfies. I take fewer than five a year and here’s my annual allotment; testing the fully articulating screen of the EOS R.

Video: Image import process (Patreon needs a better way to handle mid-article videos, You'll want to watch this to understand the rest.)

So now we have the full-resolution RAW files in our app and the Lightroom cloud. We will get deep into an advanced, professional-friendly Lightroom Mobile workflow in our next (patrons-only) workflow article, including how and why to add it to your workflow if you use other apps like Photo Mechanic.

But for personal snapshots you can do a lot with just moving a couple sliders, adding a very mild selective dodging, and 30 seconds later, you have edited files ready to export back into our filesystem as high-res JPGs.

I am an absolute nut about backups and OCD digital organization, and I let my metadata-loving freak flag fly when dealing with my own personal photos, so each of my JPGs are backed up *both* to Apple and Google Photos*. This is also easy to do instantly because Google Photos can be automatically set to back up the iOS system when connected to WiFi.

To save back to the system, we hit the share button in the upper right and then save like so.

That's it -- the cloud will take it from there for whichever apps you are using.

So in a few minutes -- less time than it took to read this, you have:

  • Full-res RAW files in the Adobe Cloud (which we’ll get into next)
  • Edited Images saved and able to share from *three* different cloud services — Apple, Google, and you can also share galleries directly from Adobe, but I don’t since it means keeping these images in that LR collection forever, while an important part of the next, deeper workflow we will discuss is to get them the heck out of there as soon as you can, since it is aimed at working well even for people who take hundreds of thousands of photos a year.

Here is a sample of some recent personal photos that went straight from camera to gallery without ever passing through a computer. It's one of the many ways that being able to use Lightroom Mobile in your workflow can make your life easier … we'll get into all the other ways for patrons next.

*A big part of the reason is that our Google Photos account is literally unlimited in storage, so we don't have to worry as much about 4K 60fps home video.


Ryan of The Brenizers released this post 2 days early for patrons.   Become a patron
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