If you’ve got Lightroom CC you’ve got an Adobe Creative Cloud account, and this means you can synchronise Collections of photos between the Lightroom catalog on your computer, your Lightroom online web space and your mobile device. If you want to know more, read How to synchronise photos with Lightroom and Creative Cloud.
I have tried to find out from Adobe whether there is any upper limit on the number of photos you can synchronise in this way and I’ve been told there isn’t. Adobe syncs compressed DNG format files which are much smaller than your originals but still good enough for on-screen display and editing – and which support the editing instructions and other metadata synchronised between all your different devices.
So don’t confuse the Lightroom sync limit (there isn’t one) with the 20GB space allocation you get as part of your Creative Cloud account. They are not the same thing.
01 Where is the Lightroom website?
You need to go to lightroom.adobe.com where you should see a window very much like the one above. This is a good place to catch up on the latest Lightroom news and features. When you’ve done that, you need to sign in with your Adobe ID using the link in the top right corner (circled).
02 Finding your way around
When you’ve signed in you should see a screen like this one, though Adobe’s online Lightroom features are being developed all the time, so don’t be surprised if it looks a little different. The key controls are in the top left corner. Currently we’re on the Welcome screen, but we need to click Photos to see our Collections.
03 Browse your Collections
When you click Photos you’ll see a screen which lists all the Collections you’ve synchronised from Lightroom arranged in a long, linear list in a sidebar on the left. You can click any Collection to see all its pictures as tiled thumbnails in the main area on the right.
04 Private vs Public Collections
When you sync a Collection on your computer it’s private by default – there is a ‘Make Public’ button too, and if you click this you get a link you can share with others. You can do the same thing online using the Share button at the top of the window above the Collection thumbnail display.
05 Editing with presets
When you click on a thumbnail you see a full size version of the image, and over on the left of the screen is an Edit button. This is where it gets interesting! In Edit mode, you’ll see a tools panel in the right sidebar with tabs for Crop, Presets and Adjust. The Presets panel only displays a subset of the presets available in the desktop version of Lightroom, but it’s a start.
06 Manual adjustments
As with the desktop version of Lightroom, these preset effects use non-destructive adjustments, and you can switch to the Adjust panel to see what’s been tweaked and add your own manual changes as required. Here, for example, I’ve boosted the Shadows and Clarity and added Split Toning and Vignette effects.
07 Ratings, flags and metadata
Down in the bottom left corner of the screen you’ll see icons for flags and star ratings which mirror those in the desktop version of Lightroom. All the changes you make online will be mirrored in the Lightroom catalog on your computer.
08 Synchronised edits
And just to prove it, here’s our adjusted image back in Lightroom. This synchronisation is really quick because there are no big image file transfers involved – Lightroom online is simply sending metadata changes back to the desktop version. There is one slightly annoying limitation at the moment – you can’t create Virtual Copies online, so whatever changes you make will overwrite the original adjustments in your catalog. The only solution here is to make a Virtual Copy on your computer first (but who’s going to be organised enough to do that?) or to make a virtual copy of the edited version afterwards and ‘revert’ the first version back to its pre-edited state.
09 Adding images online
Lightroom online has another trick, and it’s a rather good one. What if you’re at another computer and you want to add some images to your catalog? That’s easy – the Welcome page has an upload gadget where you can simply drag and drop images from a folder on the computer. It’s just like using Dropbox.
All you have to do now is wait while your images upload. If you want to see how it’s going, check the status display in the top right corner of the window.
11 So where are your uploaded images?
Once your images are uploaded they’re added to your Lightroom catalog. Naturally you’ll want to check them out on the website, but this is where I suspect Lightroom online is still a bit of a work in progress because I have no idea where it puts them. It lists all your synced Collections but I can’t find any reference to uploaded images. But never mind, because if you check back in your desktop Lightroom catalog, you should find your uploaded photos have been added automatically. The place to look is in the Folders panel, where you should see a Lightroom Web section and a folder called Imported Photos.
So that’s a quick tour of Lightroom online (or should I be calling it ‘Lightroom Web’?). I’m sure there’s more to come, but it already works well enough to be a genuinely useful tool for photographers working on different machines in different locations, and as a basic but effective image sharing/portfolio tool.