Auto Focus: Lightroom Cloud Explained (Yes, It’s Useful)

Published January 23, 2018, 12:05 AM

by Noreen Jazul

By Chris Malinao

The Lightroom Cloud version of Adobe’s workflow software is for photographers who do not see a need for cataloguing, and yes, many people hate cataloguing. Lightroom CC Cloud is for you.

Adobe says the all-new Lightroom Cloud version is for people who want to be able to access their high-resolution original photographs across all devices— smartphone, tablet, laptop, even desktop. Their photos are stored in a secure location maintained by Adobe.

Here’s how Adobe explains its raison d’etre for the cloud version, as explained by Julianne Kost, Adobe evangelist and FPPF friend:

The Lightroom Cloud interface is designed to be less intimidating. You don’t have to import photos, no cataloguing here. All the tools for image editing are all there at upper right. Just be aware that it is constantly uploading to the Internet, to the cloud.
The Lightroom Cloud interface is designed to be less intimidating. You don’t have to import photos, no cataloguing here. All the tools for image editing are all there at upper right. Just be aware that it is constantly uploading to the Internet, to the cloud.

Over the past decade, Lightroom has evolved into a powerful but complex editing program. While many seasoned photographers have found it useful and indispensable in their workflow, new users find it intimidating.

Ten years ago, when Lightroom first came out, Internet speed was slow, cloud storage barely existed, and cellphones were still used as phones. All that has changed now. Today, our files are in the cloud.

A cloud-based solution is called for. Adobe says when your full-resolution files are in the cloud, you no longer need to manage or back up files locally in your computer. You don’t have to worry about which photos to synchronize across your devices. Lightroom Cloud was created to complete an ecosystem that includes Lightroom mobile phones and tablets, Lightroom web, even an app for Apple TV.

Lightroom Cloud’s interface is radically streamlined. You add photos to it, you do not import, which is a necessary, and to new users confusing, step in Lightroom Classic. They took that away and made it easy. When you add photos to Lightroom CC Cloud, your full-resolution original photos are automatically uploaded to Adobe’s servers, in the cloud, so they can be accessed across all devices. At the uppermost right corner of interface is a cloud icon that tells you upload is in progress.

In the interface, you can scroll up and down your photo thumbnails, or view them big one by one. G grid view, E loupe view, and F full screen keyboard shortcuts still work here. Notice that at the left panel,your photos are already sorted by year, by date, but if you want to organize them into albums—as in iPhotos before—you can do that, too.Built into Lightroom Cloud is Adobe Sensei’s artificial intelligence and machine learning, a helpful algorithm to find specific images without ever having to tag or keyword a photo again.

To edit a photo, just click on the Edit icon at upper right corner and the whole suite of Lightroom tools appear for you to use. Everything is there, all the tools you knew in Lightroom Classic, even the Develop presets. Remember when you approached Lightroom as Photoshop replacement? This is the way to go. No more Library, no more cataloguing. Gone also are the names of themodules—Library, Develop,Map, Book, Slideshow, and Web. Lightroom Cloud is doing it differently, they’ve made it easy.

In developing photos, you can start by choosing a preset and if you see a preset you like, take note of the position of the sliders to achieve that look—a great way to learn how to develop photographs. You may adjust those sliders to your own liking and save the preset as your own. Then you can use the other tools down the column: Crop Tool, Healing Brush, Adjustment Brush, and the Linear and Radial gradient tools. Remember, your edits are non-destructive—this is Lightroom, after all—your original high-res photos stay intact and untouched, and as you edit, your changes are synchronized across all your devices.

What do you do after you have developed your photos? You go to File > Save To and tell the app where to drop it and what its long edge will be. Alternatively, you can also do File > Send to Facebook or Edit in Photoshop.

The all-new Lightroom CC Cloud is an intuitive application built to access, edit, sync, and store, even back up all of your full resolution photos in the cloud.

So, what we have now are two versions of Lightroom: the classic desktop version now known as Lightroom Classic CC and the one that professional photographers use, and the cloud-based Lightroom Cloud CC. If you’re a pro, go with Lightroom Classic; if you’re new, go with Lightroom Cloud.

Be aware, though, that the cloud version constantly uploads to the Internet and this touches on two important issues:

1) Internet speed. It’s useless when you have a slow connection. But with a third telco coming in to serve the Philippine broadband market, things look promising; 5Mbps is minimum requirement for cloud.

2) You pay for cloud storage. The 1TB free storage that comes with the photography bundle of Lightroom and Photoshop can easily fill up if you’re a photographer. You will pay for additional space.

That said, Adobe has reiterated its commitment to photographers. The company says Lightroom Classic will remain high priority and a high investment area for Adobe and in fact has released a new version to improve performance and added color and luminance range masking. Download the latest version.

[Chris Malinao teaches Lightroom as workflow software to photography students at the FPPF, Federation of Philippine Photographers Foundation. The FPPF is a non-profit that offers year-round workshops in Basic Photography, Advanced Photography, Wedding Photography, Strobist Lighting, Food Photography, Photoshop, Lightroom, and other specialty photography workshops. For details of FPPF workshops, visit]