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iPad pro workflows for professionals…

On November 11th I ordered my iPad pro and Apple Pencil.
The Pencil took another week to be delivered and we are now app 3 weeks later and I think it’s time for an update on how I use the iPad pro and what I think of it as a professional tool. Let me start by saying that if Apple didn’t also release the Pencil I would have not bought the iPad pro for the simple reason, it’s just a bigger and faster iPad. The Pencil makes all the difference.

 

Now when you read reviews it’s a bit black and white, loads of reviews discard the iPad pro because it’s too expensive, doesn’t deliver anything more than the iPad air series except size, there is no force touch etc. However these are not the kind of reviews I agree with, as mentioned before the Pencil makes all the difference, for me the iPad pro is much more than my iPad air.

 

My iPad air was used for entertainment on the road and at home, it controls our Home Theater via iRule and it was sometimes used for editing video on the road and some lightroom mobile, but not that much to be honest.

 

When the Pro entered our home everything changed, I picked up drawing again and I began my quest for finding the “perfect” app based workflow as a traveling photographer/creative person.

 

Apps vs Full OS
When I uploaded a video on YouTube on ONE app called Astropad I was stunned by the amount of reactions (some downright offensive) about the fact that what the iPad Pro did with Astropad was already done for years by the Surface Pro by Microsoft. Somehow this is the base I think for a lot of the misunderstanding of what I do with the iPad pro (and many more), Astropad doesn’t run the full version of Photoshop for example, it’s “just” a sort of Wacom Cintiq alternative, you still use your Mac as main computer but you can now draw, edit, retouch on the iPad pro while you see your Mac screen, and it works pretty well (except when you have the marching ants, but let’s hope they fix this, Astropad for the Pro is still in beta remember).

 

So let’s look at the way apps works vs the full os, and yeah I know I already discussed this before but things change rapidly.
My remarks on my YouTube video (and online) was that I was not feeling comfortable controlling Photoshop from a Surface pro without a keyboard because I needed certain shortcuts like sampling for example. I also found that photoshop was far from optimized for touch. Well… Adobe released a huge Photoshop update not a week later, and ….. Photoshop is now much beter with touch devices, to a point where most of my remarks can go out of the window, and trust me that’s a good thing (I’m always honest in my pieces and reviews).

 

So did my opinion change, well yes and no.
Let me start by saying that if Apple released a full touch compatible MacOsX next week I would be raving about it and it would be the best thing ever for me, however…. working with for example Capture One, FinalCutProX etc. in a touch environment…. not really amazing, try to edit for example with just a touchpad and don’t use gestures. You will very quickly find out that it’s far from perfect, and can even be downright annoying. So before everything is PERFECT there is a LOT of work that has to be done by not only Apple but also by ALL software manufacturers. Which brings us directly to the next part.

 

Apps
The nice thing about apps is that they are 100% touch based, and with the appearance of keyboards a while ago most apps (like for example iMovie) have shortcuts that speed up editing a bit. But it’s the other way around than a Full OS version, in a Full OS version taking away the keyboard makes the software very slow to operate or some functions even impossible to use, with Apps the addition of a keyboard makes the apps a bit easier and faster to operate. One might say its the same thing, but it’s not.

 

Now the Eco System for apps is HUGE with Apple so one could very easily think that there is no problem finding alternatives to create a professional workflow with apps vs full OS right? Well that is not true and I’ve hit my limit of frustration quite some times, so lets look at the options and how I at the moment use my workflow.

 

Video
This is easy, and to be honest I didn’t expect that. Video I thought would be much harder to get right with the iPad pro (iPad series) than photography, but boy was I wrong.

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With iMovie and Adobe clip you actually have two apps that work flawlessly with video, you can export to your internal video roll in 4K, there are a LOT of options like titles, adding audio, picture in picture, looks etc. It’s all not as extensive as the full blown versions but let’s say you can get 95-100% done mobile and later just export it to FCPx or Premiere and finish it off.
Video I would say I’m 100% happy with the mobile workflow and prefer it to running a full OS with just touch on the iPad pro. (Unless of course FCPx and Premiere would fully support touch, more options are always better).

 

Street and travel photography
Or just add wedding, event etc. here.
In other words the photography that is heavy on selecting, small edits, mostly adjusting cropping, exposure, looks etc.

 

For this Lightroom Mobile rocks, upload everything at home as smart previews, download everything on your mobile device, edit on the road and sync again when home…

 

And this is where the problem also lies.
Uploading to the cloud is HORRENDOUSLY slow and cumbersome. If you are blessed with fast internet you are lucky, but most hotels aren’t so planning will be VITAL if you want to be able to work on the road. But when you have… well there is not much that I don’t like about Lightroom mobile to be honest, it just works.

 

If Adobe would add a way to bypass the cloud I would say that for my street and travel photography Lightroom mobile works for 95%, and the other 5% I can do very quickly as soon as I’m home.

 

Portraits, fashion etc.
This is where my quest was a HUGE frustration.
Not because the software isn’t good, heck no, it’s because in fact there are LOADS of alternatives that would make working on the road easy, but all seem to be missing some vital parts…..

 

let’s see :
First off Adobe fix.
Great software, can edit my work very easily and store it, but… if you want to store as PSD you are actually needing the cloud, to the filmrol it’s JPG only. Also the fix functions are great but you can’t really tint your images or do other “funky stuff”.

 

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After this I decided to give Pixelmator a go.
AWESOME software, really nice, but not really great on storing again, if you want the better quality… it’s that cloud thing again. No real problem if you have a fiber internet connection but in hotels or on a plane… well I don’t have to any further right. One solution is however to save your work and when you have fast internet just sync it then, this is of course a great solution so Pixelmator is without a doubt in the running of being the best app, however there is one more….
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Our old favorite Snapseed isn’t really an option at the moment, highly limited to a low resolution it seems like Snapseed and the other apps are mostly focussed on shots you do with your iPhone, and that’s ok, let’s be honest a few weeks ago there was no real need for real professional editors because the iPad was not considered a professional tool.

 

You know that feeling that you know it should be possilbe?
Heck if Adobe would have the need I’m sure they could release a full blown Photoshop on the iPad pro, it’s fast and big enough, but for now I was left with a load of great apps that all did what they needed to do but were all missing that one real important thing…. resolution and saving in high quality PSD or TIFF internally.

enlight-photo-editing-app

On facebook I saw the app Enlight a few times and it looked like a great photo editor, with one major drawback… in their description it’s clearly stated they only support 19MP on iPads… still I decided to just email them and much to my surprise (which is actually weird if you think about it) I got a reply from them within 24 hours stating they are supporting high mp counts on the iPad pro and will soon even release versions that will support up to 70MP (well even it turns out to be 50 I’m happy, although editing my MF shots would also be nice of course). So I decided to spend the 3.99 on the app and I was blown away.

 

This is the app I would HIGHLY recommend to ALL photographers using an iPad pro (or other). You get a load of options including a great resize tool where you can freeze certain areas and after that stretch the canvas, but you also get a huge amount of looks ranging from filmlooks to downright ridiculous artistic looks (not for me but it might attract you). There are no layers from what I can see but don’t worry you can use masks which works very well.

 

The most important thing I love about Enlight is the skin options, under clarity there is an option called portrait, run this on a model and the skin gets a very nice treatment, now use the mask to fill in on the areas you want and voila use a bit of the patch tool and you have a retouch that will fit 90% of the cases, if you want to have it perfect you will need the Mac/Pc of course, but for 90-95% of fashion work I think the end result will be more than enough, especially if you mask it nicely and know what you’re doing with the strength 😀

 

The best thing about Enlight is that it just stores the files on your film roll in TIFF. Very cool app and finally a company that responds to your questions, highly recommend this one. Don’t forget Pixelmator however, although you have to wait till your home to sync and you DO need fast internet if you need to sync 10 PSDs it’s still an awesome app.

 

Painting and drawing
With all previous tasks it’s a step back from sitting behind your desktop and working, but with drawing and painting I would say it’s the other way around, the iPad pro really knocks this one out of the ballpark, the 13” screen is amazing, the palm rejection is close to voodoo and the way the pencil works is magic….. “come on Frank really?” yeah really.

 

I love to draw and paint digitally but never picked it up on my digital devices, in fact I didn’t draw since I was 16-17. I tried, oh trust me I tried but I never found the way that felt comfortable or where I could get results that were even close to what I wanted (now I have to say I’m not a great drawing artist :D).

 

I think this is the area where the iPad pro beats the standalone solutions.
I tried drawing with my Wacom in Photoshop and always had problems with my eye hand coordination on the Intuos, and a Cintiq I found too expensive for just drawing and would stand in my way for my retouch workflow, Also in Photoshop I found certain brushes to be quick and responsive while others would lag INCREDIBLY, on the iPad pro all brushes are fast and responsive in the next series of apps.

 

Adobe Sketch
If you have a CC subscription this is free.
It works flawless, great fun to use but it’s not much more than well… a sketchbook.

Procreate-made-for-artists

ProCreate
Oh my, this changed my life, literally.
At the moment I try to draw as much as possible in Procreate and it’s addictive as can be for the simple reason it feels 100% natural, brushes, pencils and pens all look great and the drawing experience itself is VERY nice, you can turn the paper to the orientation you like, you can zoom, erasing is a simple two finger gesture, redo a three finger gesture and there are much more gestures build in. Also very nice is to see a video after your artwork is done that shows the complete progress from start to finish.

 

Of course Procreate supports layers, opacities, blurs, blending modes etc. etc. it’s “perfect” but still looks very simple and easy to understand.

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MediBang paint
Can I say WOW again.
This looks like Photoshop on the iPad, a very very extensive app with of course layers and all their behaviors, loads of brushes (more available online, just like with Procreate), color pickers etc. but also extra additions like drawing perfect circles and other forms, adding content from online like backgrounds etc. and much much more.

 

The interface looks a bit more cluttered which I like for photo editing but to be honest I like the look the look of Procreate a lot more for drawing. However the options you get with MediBang paint are slowly drawing me more towards MediBang, if they would add the movie recording of ProCreate I would probably switch. The nice thing about MediBang is that it’s 100% free.

 

So far
Overal I’m finding my ways on the iPad pro.
The feeling is exactly as expected, it bridges the gap between being at home or in a hotel and being able to work on a “proper” workstation (MBP or MacPro) and traveling.

 

There will always be people that claim the iPad pro is a toy because it doesn’t run a full OS and I can understand this from a Windows perspective, I own a touch based windows laptop (i7 Sony with full specs and pen which I use for other applications than creative) and the app eco system for that system… well it’s there but to be honest it sucks, there are some cool apps but most are not even remotely as sophisticated or usable as the iOS apps, and thats 100% understandable (don’t get me wrong) there is no real need for apps because the laptop runs a full OS.

 

However I think this is the main reason why many surface owners are so bashing the iPad pro, and they are right in many ways, but also wrong in some. The main reason for me to go for the iPad pro above the Surface pro is not because I don’t like microsoft, I’m a modern guy and I know my hard/software so I can make everything talk to each other.

 

The main reasons are much simpler
With the iPad Pro have a device that is superior in drawing and painting which although it’s a hobby is very important for me, now I know there are people doing great art on an iPhone with their fingers, but I’m not that talented I need a very simple to use interface so I can focus on my drawing “skills” and for example Procreate delivers this, it’s 100% touch based so it feels natural, and the Apple pencil is just awesome for me.

 

Also it’s a matter of battery life, although both claim the same battery life my experience with both my Sony laptop and Surface pro is quite different. When I edit video my battery is empty in about 2 hours on the Surface Pro and my Laptop, the iPad pro however just keeps going and going. For watching movies we flew from Amsterdam to LA and both my iPad (Air) and Surface were both not 100% empty so for entertainment this is non-issue but when editing video/photos the iPad pro will just last longer and seeing the fact that not every seat on an airplane has a power connector I prefer that a lot.

 

Also it’s a matter being able to do what is needed. In the air or on the road I don’t need to FINISH something, I like to do the ground work, I need to be there 90-95% so when I’m at home it’s a simple way of syncing everything up and finishing what’s needed in 2-3 hours and be done with it. Before I worked mobile it meant that I lost 1-2 full days at home for retouching and editing video.

 

During workshops I can shoot tethered to my iPad pro with the Sony software and QDSLR dashboard, that’s all I need. During shows I can connect the iPad to a large screen TV or projector via a cable and power the iPad pro via lighting so we can shoot all day.

 

For presentations I can edit in KeyNote and control keynote on the iPad pro via my iPhone, use it as a laserpointer, draw on the screen and see my next slide and notes.

create
Documents I can edit on the road via the Logitec Create keyboard (I didn’t like the Apple keyboard), which in fact almost makes the iPad Pro into a full blown laptop when combined with Numbers, Pages and Keynote (or Microsoft office).

 

Would I like more?
Yeah of course, this is not an article on how great the iPad pro is, it is what it is and for me it’s a perfect companion for travels and at home, but most of all a great creative tool thanks to the pencil.

 

I would LOVE an extra USB port for external drives or a camera, although I use the iShow fast it would be nice to also be able to shoot tethered via USB with my camera (sometimes wifi can be tricky on trade shows with much interference). The iShow fast however is a great companion for the iPad (Pro) because it makes it possible to copy files (very fast) from my Mac via USB to the iPad (Pro) via lighting, or to just store movies and watch them via the stick.

 

I always carry my laptop with me for the storage of files, bigger tasks etc. It would be great if apple would release a macbook pro without screen where you could just fit the iPad pro too and it would become a “dumb” display, where you can use all the options of a full MacOsX, maybe copy files to the internal iPad Pro storage and take it off and continue working. But till then I will just carry my whole MBP on longer trips.

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The future
I strongly believe we are just seeing a tip of the iceberg at the moment. Apple released the iPad and at first it was just a blown up iPhone I think with the Pro we are at that same point, the potential of the pro is not yet used by 99% of the apps I’m running, even Astropad claims they are still in beta.

 

With the recent release of Photoshop with a main focus on touch and GUI improvements I think/hope Adobe is making more steps into creating Photoshop based on a touch device. I don’t know how hard it is of course to port everything to iOS but seeing the fact they are already release many mobile apps the last few months/years and those apps grow in power I would not be surprised if 2016 would be the year in which we see some major improvements in Photoshop on the iPad pro and probably also Lightroom mobile.
On the other hand, I think also Apple feels the need to integrate the two worlds. They will not run MacOsX on a 100% touch device I’m afraid and I understand why, where I always got the feeling that Microsoft looked more at a standpoint from “if our software runs great we release it” Apple looks at it a bit different “EVERYTHING needs to be seamless and perfect otherwise we don’t release it” this is now clearly shown with the release of the iPad pro which many (including me) hoped to be running full MacOsX, we now have a device with loads of power and possibilities but we are depending on apps, on the other hand if these apps are created you will have a superior device to anything else. It’s a matter of something can be said for both. I for one would be able to live with a half functioning Capture One on my iPad pro running MacOSx as long as tethering worked for example but it isn’t so and that’s reality.

 

At the moment I feel very confident with the purchase of the iPad pro, it bridges the gap between travel and being at home “perfectly” and is perfect as a creative tool for creating drawings and painting.

 

Still I’m always looking at the surface pro series from Microsoft and find the recent updates to Photoshop more than interesting, but in a 100% mac environment and with the apps I use the iPad pro at the moment is the perfect addition in my workflow.

 

I hope this article gives you some ideas about apps and how I use the iPad pro at the moment.

From old to new but in the end it’s all about YOU

People always ask “How did you start?”
I was brought up in a family of photographers and videographers, not professionals but just very enthusiastic people. So it was no surprise I also picked up cameras (both video and photography). But model photography came very late actually, I mostly shot birds, nature and sports.

 

Being a member of a photo club we had to do a workshop and for different reasons I choose model photography although I never had the idea to continue with this, but I did….. so how did my first images look and what can you see repeat.

 

Well as many of you at first I shot a lot of flat lighting, although I have to be honest I very quickly started experimenting with more focussed light (just love that look), because I had to learn how to properly coach my models I often used little tricks to keep me motivated, this often meant different backgrounds, plexiglas on the floor, smoke (yeah I started to use that very early on), cubes, accessories etc. it was a mess of things to keep images fresh. Let’s take a look at some of those early works, this is all in the first year (2004).

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This was actually my first model shoot ever. I even printed a book for myself from this session because I would never shoot something better….. Oh how wrong can you be. Just a simple setup with a small softbox and some material as background because I didn’t have a lot of other options yet and the studio was really small.

 

A few months later and a very good model, she knew how to pose and I tried some things with cubes (I think this is one of the first sessions I started using cubes) and as you can see some plexiglas on the floor for the reflection and to keep everything white. I just loved weird poses what can I say.

 

 

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And of course I also loved black backgrounds and plexiglas and some motion.

Robyn 8 Juli 2004 212

 

At one point I decided it was not all about weird poses, cubes, plexiglas and yet another color on the background and I started to experiment with styling. This image was one of the first attempts we made with styling, and crazy ideas. We are now in 2005.

Marie 28 Juli 2005 22a

Cheyenne 24 November 2006-14

I always told myself that if I used something a while and I nailed a good shot with it (or a series) I would stop using it for a while, but at one point the cubes were bound for a comeback. And we did so in 2007 but as you can see at that point I also started to get a bit more heavy into complexer light setups, this was actually a 3-4 light setup and at point very tricky to setup and get it the way I wanted it to be.

Linda S studio 30 Mei 2007-11

2007 also was the year I needed a model for a show at Professional imaging and Nadine responded, she loved my work and wanted to work with me. As compensation I always offered the models to be paid or to get a TFP shoot, Nadine opted for the last and wanted to impress me, she didn’t want a standard image, now it had to ROCK, so we decided to use the theme ROCKCHICK. I already used some smoke so that was handy and we came up with this shot.

Nadine 13 Juni 2007-57Not much later Corine decided it was time for a haircut a day before a workshop and got me all worried when she told me her choice was a bit edgy…. I don’t have to tell you I loved it.

Corine 9 November 2007 (6 of 15)
Now a few years later (2008 to be exact) I was venturing more and more outside the studio, for the simple reason my studio was limiting me at that point. And I started experimenting with backlighting and day to night, I think this is actually one of the first day to night shots I did with a model that visited our studio very often (Corine).

Corine 19 September 2008 (72 of 90)

The years after this everything went pretty fast.
Nadine and some other models visited the studio a lot and we worked on some free work and the whole group grew, the workshops started to become more and more successful and Nadine once joked that “every shoot I come it will be more extreme” because I loved to play around with styling and extreme things I of course encouraged this to tell her after every shoot “We’re almost there, it was just not perfect” an inside joke that we still play for the simple reason that we promised each other that as soon as we took the perfect shot we would stop.

 

For modern work visit my portfolio at www.frankdoorhof.smugmug.com and you can see that some elements return and some elements are now much more different but overall I think you can recognize a lot of things.

 

Now how did technique help me?
Of course it’s all cameras and gear right?
Well actually for me it’s not.
When I look back I think me discovering David Lachapelle and seeing the over the top styling and story telling really changed the way I looked at photography, from that point on it was never about the model and the beautiful clothes (although important), it was about story telling, the styling (the more outrageous the better), the expression and so much more.

 

Of course technique did have a major impact on the quality.
Strobes like Elinchrom are very precise and stable so I loved it when I made the switch from my first set Jinbei’s to Elinchrom, I also loved the new modifiers I got to play with. On a tradeshow I shot a few images with a Hasselblad (even made a picture of me holding it because this would be a one time deal), when looking at the images back home…. well I was sold and ended up with a Mamiya/Leaf combination. This helped me with dynamic range and higher resolution images for the artists I shot at that time (they needed really big posters and the 6-8Mps were just a bit on the short side sometimes). But it also helped me with a different format, when I started shooting MF I slowly changed from shooting dominate portrait mode to almost dominant landscape mode. Also my love for movies probably helped with this, it just gives a totally different look to the images and gives the model more room.

 

So technique helped.. but I always strongly believe (till today) that it’s your mind that creates the images, not the gear, the gear is just a hammer or nail to hang the painting/photo. That’s also why questions like “What lens did you use”, “What aperture did you shoot on” are all actually quite irrelevant. If I tell you…. you still aren’t getting that X-factor ingredient.

 

The last few years the photography market has gotten very interesting, Sony is taking over like a storm with backlit sensors, insane dynamic range, great features and options to use every lens ever made, and that all helps to get better image quality and makes it easier when traveling (smaller camera). But there is more of course, every day you see new products that make my heart beat faster, think about the recent release of the iPad pro with Apple Pencil that will open up so many possibilities for creatives all around the world, I think the scenery will change, Adobe hopefully will pick this up even more and start creating more and more apps for that.But also think about cameras that are totally flat and have several lenses so you can just shoot and the camera uses different lenses to focus on different lengths (like Light and their new camera technology), this makes it possible to later change the DOF in software… all really cool and handy…. but…… it will not change one thing…. give the best gear to the worst photographer and he will make bad images, give the worst gear to a good photographer and he will create art. An iPad pro with an Apple pencil doesn’t make you an artist, people with notebooks and pen can draw better images while on the phone than I do when I concentrate on my iPad pro 😀 but that doesn’t matter….

 

Technology helps us to enhance our workflow, create better images, give us option to discover parts of our art we never used before, but the real artist… will always be inside YOU.

 

Now let’s end with a challenge, write a blog post about your progress and your opinion on how technology helped you and send me the link, the best blogs will be featured on my blog.

 

First few days with the iPad Pro

Seeing the amount of responses we get on our iPad pro overviews I thought it would be nice to dedicate todays blogpost to the iPad pro in my way. So don’t expect to see a list of accessories, specs etc. you can find in many locations online (calling it reviews) but expect a real honest, in the field way of review where I tell you what I PERSONALLY think about the iPad pro, it’s bad and good things.

 

Let me start off by telling you I’m not an Apple fanboy, somehow I always feel the need to post this because (and I don’t know why) there is a certain group of people that will always try to bash Apple products on price or limitations they feel are important, so let’s start with those points.

 

Price
As far as I know most photographers and videographers are not sponsored by Apple, meaning we all pay full price for the products (if not please let me know, I would love to save money). So let’s look at pricing. Yes Apple is not cheap, but in all honesty in most cases I always get great resale value and the speed in which I sell my old gear is always impressive, although I have to say that selling my iPhone 6 plus took almost a week (compared to the 2 days of my other iPhones was a shock and almost had me worried). On the other hand what you get is pretty impressive, the products are beautifully designed and let’s be honest the OS is just very good, iOS is 100% touch and works like a charm and OSx is stable and also works pretty well (although the last few years first releases can be buggy in some departments).

 

The iPad pro is expensive without a doubt, but not that much more than a fully spec’d iPad Air2 with WiFi/LTD and 128GB and do remember it’s not just a bigger iPad…..

 

It’s just a bigger iPad
Well if you see it like this, than the iPad pro is without a doubt not for you, actually you should stay clear from it. The iPad air for surfing, mail, games, entertainment etc. has the perfect size, both Annewiek and me have travelled with iPads for years and they literally changed long flights from boring as hell to manageable and entertaining.

 

A lot of reviews state the obvious, “Candycrush will look great”, “Email is even better” yeah sure…. why do you need a bigger tablet if you only do that? I don’t see the profit in that, the iPad pro is bigger to carry around, it doesn’t fit most bags where the iPads fit in nice and snuggly, it will fit in the airplane seat nets, but not as easy as the Air, let’s be clear… the iPad air is the perfect travel companion and nobody would ever NEED anything more.

 

So we have the consumers that want to shine and show off with Candy crush and bigger E-mail and sacrifice in portability for this, and we have that other group, and that’s the group I belong to.

 

It’s an iPad pro
As a photographer and instructor I’m always busy, heck I’m happy if I have a day off to be honest, most people know me to be online a lot (answering your questions, posting updates etc) and most of this I do with my iPhone 6s Plus, love the bigger screen and better camera and I always use the iPhone actually instead of my iPad Air2 because it’s just easier, faster and smaller and it fits my pocket. Plus a lot of social media apps run on my iPhone and not on my iPad plus when I shoot an image and edit it in Snapseed or Lr mobile etc. it’s easier to upload and edit is straight from my phone than first “beam” it to my iPad to edit, “beam” back to send, it just doesn’t make any sense. In fact one could say that I use my iPad air2 for remote controlling our Home Theater with iRule, watching movies while traveling, watching TV via a dream box in the RV and do some other stuff when I don’t want to drag my laptop with me but will be surfing for a longer time. In fact I never ever typed a document on it. So when the iPad pro was released I was not willing to spend money on it, but things change.

 

When we shoot in the studio or on location with models I have a certain workflow that is almost routine, RAW developing in Capture One, open in Photoshop do the skin and tinting, save, sync into Lightroom (where my images life). But on the road my workflow is dramatically different. We shoot during the day and at night I download everything into Lightroom, do the edits in Lightroom or DxO optics and do my tinting in Lr or DxO and… well done.

 

So I’ve been experimenting a lot with Lr mobile and was very happy with the workflow because it saves me a lot of work when I arrive back home, now all my images are done, but most of all I like the fact I could now do it in bed (hotel desks are often not really comfy) or on the plane or while Annewiek is driving the RV, but on the iPad air2 Lr mobile already works pretty well, so no real reason to switch to the iPad pro.

 

We also film a lot during travels, Annewiek shoots 4K material and that is edited in FCPx on her laptop and I shoot some material on my iPhone which…. well is never edited, although the material is sometimes rather interesting, funny or just cool but when we arrive home I just don’t have the energy or need to go through this material and editing on the iPhone is ok but not a pleasant experience, on the iPad air2 it works a lot better but somehow I never really took the effort to do it. So where am I going with this….because as it looks now I never really used my iPad for serious work.

 

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The Apple pencil
When I saw the iPad pro my first response was (as many of you) a bigger iPad but without MacOsX, that’s a shame….
BUT when I saw the Apple pencil my mind went into overdrive… this is it.
But it took some time before I was convinced, actually to be honest it took me till a few days ago before I knew 100% sure I was going to buy the iPad pro, so what changed my opinion.

 

Why don’t I use video editing on my iPad air?
Well it works fine, but the screen is a bit small and crowded, plus the whole finger thing to change clips… well it’s not very pleasant and fast, so enter the Apple pencil with 1 pixel resolution… that would be a lot better. For a while I used a Microsoft Surface pro and I was very impressed at how easy a well designed stylus (sorry pencil) worked in certain software, the reason I don’t use the Surface pro anymore was purely that we experienced some serious issues with shooting tethered during trade shows, USB ports were failing on me and sometimes a reboot helped sometimes not and my MBP always worked so I sacrificed the tablet experience (which I LOVED) for my MBP again, you saw that little line…. “the tablet experience I loved” because let’s make one thing clear working with the Surface pro was AWESOME, shooting tethered on location into a tablet instead of a laptop is great, and walking up stage with just a tablet to connect… awesome… but there were just too many problems, everyone has a mac so if you had the bad luck a projector wouldn’t sync with Apple there was always someone who knew, but with the Surface… well people just said “Yeah it’s windows, a Mac works” (thank you not very much), also as an OSx user I couldn’t really get used to the way the touch but not 100% touch OS worked, because although it’s a touch tablet the experience is not 100% touch, I know it sounds weird but in many instances I really wanted a keyboard or mouse under windows 8. But anyway I’m rambling let’s get back on track.

 

Sometimes there is this moment when everything just falls together, the moment it clicks (sorry Joe).
What if…..
I could get wireless tethered working and shoot wireless into the iPad Pro during workshops.
What if I use a lighting to HDMI convertor to connect the iPad pro to the big screen TV.
What if I use keynote on the iPad pro and control this with my iPhone.
What if I can transfer large files from iPhone to iPad or MBP to iPad without using the always flaky Airdrop (for me it never really works).
What if… and the list was pretty long and I started to work.

 

First shooting tethered, after a lot of experiments we solved this. Of course if you’re using Canon or Nikon you’re in luck with CamRanger and if you’re using ANY Sony A-E mount camera with wifi you’re in luck with Smart remote… unless you’re using their flagship the A7RII (the EVF stays black) until they fix this I solved the problem with a loop on my LCD, and to my surprise it works like a charm, although the EVF is sharper but it works. I’m using play memories and QDSLR dashboard as receiver software.

 

Connecting to a big screen is no problem at all, Apple sells these convertors, and you can even charge at the same time because it has a lighting adaptor inside the convertor.

 

Keynote can indeed be running on the iPad pro and controlled by my iPhone (love this), so now I can draw on the screen, see what I’m doing, using a laser pointer and walk around on stage and see the next slide and notes (which I never use but hey that’s me :D).

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Transferring large files was possible with some sticks on the market with both USB and Lighting but these were very slow, so that was out. Until I found a new product online that promises to give MUCH more speed and works flawless with both iPhones and iPads (pros) and MBP, USB3 speed and lighting adaptor inside. See https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/ishowfast-world-s-fastest-iphone-ipad-flash-drive#/ I’m waiting for delivery so I can’t tell you anything about it, but according to some “pre-release” reviews it’s indeed very fast.

 

So most of the problems and wishes I had were solved, and I was more and more looking towards buying the iPad pro and I was lucky to able to just walk into a store on the day of the release and get the 128GB space gray LTD version, so how do I like it?

 

create

Is it a notebook?
This is the first thing my parents asked when I showed them my brand new iPad in it’s Logitech create cover with keyboard.
“No… well a little bit” was my answer (obviously in Dutch).

 

If you don’t know about the logitech Create cover make sure to check it out, it really is one marvelous piece of kit. In essence it’s a backlit keyboard stand that also has some cool features like controlling the sound, light on the iPad pro and keyboard itself, audio, short cuts, home, some double tap things and more, it does however makes the beautiful iPad Pro into a bulky almost MBP look a like. But to get some serious work done where you need to type it’s great.

 

With Pages, numbers and keynote you really have the idea you’re working on a notebook, although you have to switch a lot between the keyboard and the screen, this sounds like a “no deal” but bare with me… I was working this way for an hour and Annewiek asked me something and it struck me as surprising I was trying to use her screen as a touch display……. yeah weird right. So I think that a lot of people who are screaming their lungs out that it will NEVER be a laptop replacement are dead wrong…. but not yet.

 

At the moment the experience is weird, not because it’s not working as advertised, but maybe because it’s working as advertised. Let’s take for example mail. When you are in Mail you can of course type, copy/paste with shortcuts, you can even delete mails by pressing delete on the keyboard…. but…. you can move up and down with the cursor keys, you need your finger for this. Now this could be my age of course or my long time use of mouse/trackpad and keyboard but it just doesn’t feel right, IF they would have added the cursor use I think I would have said that for mail this is a FULL laptop replacement.

 

I also hear some people about why Apple didn’t include a trackpad in the keyboards, and I’m glad they didn’t.
I love my MBP but on the plane I can’t use it because… well it’s too tight and we fly Economy or Economy comfort, however the iPad pro with the much less deep keyboard will be no problem at all, and I would have rather have the space than some form of “ok trackpad”.

 

In all honesty I think it’s a matter of getting used to the interface, we are now used to doing 100% on a keyboard and trackpad/mouse and nothing on the screen of our desktops and when we look back it was also very weird to start using a mouse and a lot of people were actually still using the cursor keys in a lot of early “windows like” software and sometimes grabbed the mouse, I think we are at the start of another revolution in which we have to get used to doing 90% on the screen with gestures and touch and only grab the keyboard when we need to type something, talking about this by the way… the new software keyboard of the iPad Pro is awesome and saves a lot of time switching between modes so for smaller things like emails this will do just fine.

 

If you take this into account I think that for 99% of the people the iPad pro indeed can be a full laptop replacement, because let’s be honest what do you really do on your laptop? You work with Excell, word, powerpoint, mail, surf and watch a movie right? I don’t see a lot of people running autocad or full blown photoshop with a wacom tablet on airports or in busses, most work is the more “basic” stuff. This week we switched from using Office to iWorks in our studio and I must say that’s its a delight, the interfaces are less cluttered, having all the documents in iCloud is handy and keynote just works better than Powerpoint for me, and being able to control it with your iPhone is a big added bonus for me.

 

Get to the point Frank
Yes I’m getting there, and exactly to the point actually.
The Apple Pencil.
I tried some styluses on the iPad Air and never really liked them, of course I didn’t try them all but it just didn’t feel right. The Surface pro actually changed this for me, I loved the way the Wacom pen reacted but as mentioned before I didn’t like the OS and felt it was too much of a mix to be comfortable for me personally.

 

Adding the Apple pencil in the mix made me wanting to run out and get the iPad pro.
I always loved to draw but haven’t done it anymore since childhood, I hope the iPad pro can trigger this again in me because when I played with the Apple pencil it really felt so much better than anything I tried before (including the Wacom series), but that’s not all. In the app store you can find an app called Astropad which in essence promises to replace the wacom you use now for a much better experience, now I’ve looked at the Wacom cintiq but never bought one, same with the companion. It all looked awesome but…. it didn’t fit my workflow or the battery time was too limited, seeing the iPad pro with the Apple pencil being used as an alternative Wacom really was the drop I needed.

 

For me the iPad pro buy decision was made based solely on the Apple pencil, IF they would have not sold this I would have NEVER switched from my Air2 to the Pro for the simple reason…. it’s just a bigger iPad. Now that I did I’m seeing other options. So after this long introduction a very short overview of my first experiences with.

 

Working as a laptop
When traveling I’m always switching like crazy between things I like to do, my attention span on airplanes is 45 minutes max so watching a movie is not really an option, I don’t know why but I just can’t concentrate much longer than 45 minutes. So with the iPad pro I can of course watch a movie but also work on a new blogpost in Pages, fine tune my presentations in Keynote etc. etc. I’ve worked with the Create and Pages and have to say that it’s a great experience and I really see me using this over my MPB, unless I have them both with me, the MBP is just a bit easier and faster for longer texts, but… this can change when I’m used to the touch screen and maybe I will even prefer working on the iPad pro, but remember this is HIGHLY depending on the keyboard you use and the create from Logitech I can HIGHLY recommend.

 

Surfing
What can I say. It’s cool, it’s better than on my Mac at home and MPB.
In portrait mode it’s like reading a magazine, bright and RAZOR sharp with popping colors (but still pretty natural) and the touch interface in safari is refined as can be and a really good experience, again I prefer this above any other way of surfing.

 

Video editing
I still have to wait for the Apple pencil but what I’ve done so far with iMovie and Adobe clip has been delightful. Here are two of the videos I created with iMovie and Clip (about the software itself).

 

Someone commented that I must be crazy to prefer this edit method and it was nothing like real editing, well my answer was very simple. “what do you want more?” both iMovie and Clip do all the basic edits, you can create looks for your video (actually it’s faster than on my MacPro which has to render the looks and don’t ask me how the iPad pro does but it’s almost instant), you can change audio, add tracks, change clips etc. etc. and even use titles, picture in picture etc. Of course FCPx and Premiere has WAY more options, but…. both iMovie and Adobe clip have the option to transfer your work to their host programs and finish it off there…. what more DO you want?  This saves so much work, on the road you edit the clips in your spare time (heck even on the restroom, depending on time of course) and you can share straight to YouTube or Vimeo if you’re satisfied, or you can save it and finish the “ground work” at home in less time that before.

 

Lightroom mobile
As with the iPad air2 it works great, I just wish Adobe would make an extra option possible, transferring smart previews via USB, let’s be honest even with a fairly normal internet connection transferring files takes “forever” add to this the “great/not” speed in hotels or databundels via roaming and Adobe actually shoots itself in the foot with forcing a cloud sync, don’t get me wrong I LOVE Adobe and consider many of them as personal friends, but I never understood why with a program that is meant to be used on the road they rely so heavily on internet which in reality is almost non existent in most hotels, Email will do, facebook will do but syncing a gig of data…. yeah.
Till they solve this (if ever) I’m just leaving my MBP in the hotel and uploading the files while we are out, and hope that it’s done when we are back in and connect the iPad pro to download for offline editing during the nighttime, if I keep this up every day I’m sure I have all shots with me to select and edit while traveling back, and this would be a blessing because I wouldn’t feel the need to edit everything at night on my laptop because I know when I’m home I don’t have the time.

 

Magazines
I love magazines on the iPad but it was always a bit too small for me, reading was ok but I found myself often just zooming in a little bit, with the Pro… gorgeous and I mean WOW

 

Sound
Don’t ask me why it’s important because I don’t have a clue but the sound is LOUD and I really mean LOUD, and it’s pretty good too. For watching a movie in the hotelroom or RV this will rock but I honestly think some people give too much credit to this point, mostly I use my iPad with headphones or silent.
Speed
Good grieves this thing is blazingly fast.
Editing, rendering and even switching between apps is amazing, and candy crush… don’t even start.
Without kidding it’s indeed VERY snappy and rendering 4K video, scrubbing and zooming is smooth as can be.

 

Portfolio shows
Can I be short…. awesome.
I use the smugmug app with offline images and it’s an experience, clients love it and the responses are nothing short of “breathtaking” and I hope they also mean the shots.

 

Apple Pencil
Only played with it briefly in the store, I think it’s ridiculous they don’t have enough in stock, I have to wait 7 days and I see now they are actually pushing this forwards if you order now to almost a month, as mentioned before for me the iPad pro IS the Apple Pencil and if it would have worked on the iPad air2 there would have been even a slight chance I would have just bought the Pencil. Apple should have made sure that the supply is at least 1:1 because besides the consumer that wants a bigger candy crush experience I don’t see why you should invest in a bigger iPad without making use of the pencil.

 

Some bad things (because we have to have those too)
Design is gorgeous with Apple and I love my MacPro but…. I never am able to use an iPhone without a case for the simple reason I’m afraid it will slip out of my hands, same with the iPad pro, it’s slippery as can be, you can’t balance this nicely on your lap without it moving/sliding around. I really do get that design is important, but I feel that with devices you handheld it’s more important to have a surface that’s sticky than something that looks sleek and is ALWAYS covered with a case so you never see it anyway.

 

As mentioned before the keyboard integration is awesome BUT misses some small things like cursor keys that would be nice to be functional in for example mail.

 

Price we can argue about for ages but I think everything is worth what you use it for and how much it speeds up your workflow and gives you new creative options and I feel the iPad pro does everything I want, and yeah I know I have to finish off some projects when I’m home and I will not use it for my model photography YET, but I can live with that, in fact it will save me so much backpains and time that I’m more than willing to shelve over the dough to get it.

 

A double edged 4G sword
We opted for the 4G version and I didn’t talk about that yet because I feel it’s awesome but I also feel I’m being ripped off.
The Apple sim is an awesome idea, travel, arrive, internet. The 4G network in most countries is blazingly fast and vaporizes most hotel internet connections.

For years we have been traveling with a MiFi where we simply visit a store, get a pre-paid card, put it in the MiFi and we have fast internet wherever we go, we actually have 2 (one for the USA with Verizon and one for Europe). But… sometimes it’s easy to get a sim like in the UK, Denmark, Sweden, Germany etc. but sometimes you also have to look REALLY hard, we found out that especially in the states it’s a disaster, we tried to activate our Verzizon device and were send away from every store, we had to find a main office store from Verizon and… well they were not close by so we ended up with just hopping hotspots that week, also the price for 1GB of internet was ridiculously expensive.

 

Enter the Apple sim, you land, you connect to a provider of your choice and no more looking for simcards or getting a card that doesn’t work or where you have the first call with your phone to activate the card (try to get a normal sim in an iPhone). Sound awesome, but it’s not all happy internet camping.

 

The pricing of the Apple sim provider GigSky is not cheap, on average you pay $50.00 for 1-3GB of data, compared to what we pay in Denmark or the UK for data this is PRETTY steep, I believe the last time we had 6GB of data for EU60.00 in the UK. Also when you check online you can use the Sim in the Netherlands (they even rate pricing) but when checking on the iPad pro it states I can’t use it in the Netherlands, but Belgium and Germany do work, maybe a bug. However we still opted for this option for the simple reason that we are loosing a lot of valuable time by looking for a simcard in some cases, so we decided to check on arrival when doing groceries and if we don’t find anything we pay the premium and just forget about it, because in all honestly loosing half a day of time is also very expensive when traveling so that 25.00 euro more you pay might actually be worth it.

 

Conclusion
If you’re still reading I must be doing something right because I think this is the longest blogpost I ever wrote.
In conclusion I love my iPad Pro for the following reasons

 

  • I do feel it’s not worth it’s money without the Apple Pencil
  • with a keyboard it’s a perfect alternative for a laptop unless you do hardcore video editing and you need full blown photoshop on the road (again who does), the interface will be something you have to get used to.
  • The iOS apps are already worthy work tools and it can only get better
  • for creatives this is a dream come true
  • Working on full blown photoshop is possible with astropad, see it as remote controlling your mac (have to test this when the pen is in)
  • screen is gorgous
  • it’s very fast
  • Shooting tethered to the iPad gives the students a bigger screen to watch and me less cables and carrying around stuff
  • it just saves a LOT of work because the groundwork can be done on the road

 

Thanks so very much for reading and one final remark.
If you’re planning on posting that the surface pro book is a better alternative because it runs full windows I have two remarks for you.

 

  1. Yes it does, but I (and most people) don’t need a full blown windows for the simple reasons what you have to do in the field can be done with the iOS apps as soon as you realize it’s ground work, and to be honest it’s about the same thing I do with my MBP most of the times I also finish my work as soon as I’m home and use my MBP to “start” the work.
  2. It’s not an Apple product… in other words I’m used to certain apps which I use and my while workflow is Apple based, when I used the surface pro I loved the product but the integration with Apple was ok but not stunning, when you use office it’s workable but with iWorks the experience is of a totally different level, plus we use a lot of notes and other small things that are inside the Apple workflow.

 

In the end there is always something better and especially something better is coming next year, for now I think working with the iPad pro is a revolution in terms of getting used to the touch screen as main device and keyboard just when you really need it, when you get over this it can be a 100% replacement of 99% of the laptops out there, and overall…. did I already tell you how amazing candy crush looks?