Editing DSLR Photos with an Iphone

While I was out at the lake shooting photos, I really wanted to get a look at the shots that I was getting on a better screen than the one on the back of the camera. This happens to me often as I am not quite sure about my composition and exposure and the camera screen is not that great. Ideally, I would look at these on my laptop and play around in Lightroom to see what I have, but this is usually impractical when out shooting landscapes. I do have an iPhone with a really good screen and a Lightroom CC app installed, so I decided to give that a try.

The first problem to solve is getting the images from my camera to my phone while in the field. This can be done using Wi-Fi with the Nikon D750 and many of their other cameras.

  • On the D750, go into the Setup menu to Wi-Fi and select Enable for Network Connection.
  • On the iPhone (android may be different), go into Settings >> Wi-Fi, and the camera should show up as a network that you can join. Select the camera network and join it. You’ll get a message about no internet access which doesn’t matter.
  • Now, on the iPhone open the Nikon WMU app that you previously installed.
  • You can select to view the photos on the D750. This will take you to a screen that looks like the one below:
Screen capture of Nikon WMU app on iPhone
Nikon WMU App
  • You can then select the photo that you want to inspect and download it to your phone. I always choose the Original size.
Screen capture of Nikon WMU app on iPhone
Nikon WMU App
  • The RAW (NEF) image file will now be on your phone. The iPhone can view these file types. Below is the image that I chose. Notice how dark the foreground is in the unedited RAW image.

RAW image downloaded to iPhone

  • Important note: turn off Wi-Fi on the D750 when you are through with the transfer or it will quickly drain your camera battery!
  • Next, I launched the Lightoom CC app and imported the picture.
  • The Lightroom app gives you many of the tools you have in the full version. I used it to adjust the exposure, highlights, shadows, white balance, vibrance, etc. See the screen capture below.
Adobe Lightroom CC App on iPhone
Adobe Lightroom CC App
  • Doing all of this, I was able to get a pretty good idea that the picture had the information I wanted to make adjustments and what my final edit could look like.
  • You can then export it to a JPG if you like.

So, I could do all of this on my iPhone screen, which is much better than the screen on the back of the camera. I could even upload it to WordPress, Instagram, etc. right there if I wanted. The picture below is my quick field edit of the photo that showed me what I had captured in good detail.

Image after editing on iPhone 8Plus

I was concerned that I had good light on the driftwood in the foreground without over-exposing the sky. This is kind of hard to gauge with a long exposure through a filter. While I can use the histogram data on the back of the camera, it is difficult to see the image well on the camera screen with the foreground so dark. It is nice to see what you really have after a few basic adjustments in Lightroom.

Later when I got home, I loaded the RAW images onto my computer and got to do some more careful selection and editing. The below image is not the same image that I edited on my phone, but was shot at the same time with the same settings and composition. The below image shows my edits in full Lightroom.

Driftwoon image edited in Lightroom on PC
Nikon D750, 16-35mm, f/4; 16mm, f/16, 30s, ISO100

This image was not as successful, in my opinion, as I had hoped. I did get the warm light on the driftwood, but it kind of gets lost among the stones on the shore. The lake is nice and smooth and there is motion in the clouds. I realized this wasn’t really working looking at this on my phone after shooting and then moved on to something else. In hindsight, I could have gotten down closer to the driftwood and closed in on the texture of the wood.

Whether or not the picture was a success, this did make me consider writing about the field editing experience. When I am home on my computer, an HP Spectre laptop running Windows 10, I have a large, hi-res screen and more time to edit the file. I can apply graduated filters, lens corrections, additional color controls, so I think I get a better result. But being able to quickly do part of this in the field is a big help and can let me know if I missed the shot and should retake it.

This is really a huge advantage over the film days of shooting and not seeing your mistakes until after the pictures are developed in a dark room. It’s kind of embarrassing how spoiled I am carrying a mini-computer in my pocket with a high resolution screen, but I do like it here in the future. It does require a little patience to do all of this out in the field, but I think that it is worth it to get a good photo and I will be making this more a part of my process when shooting photographs in the future.

A little later, the sun set in an unremarkable way and that was it from Lake Buchanan.

Sunset at Lake Buchanan Texas

Hope you enjoyed the blog. Leave a comment if you like.

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