RAW Photos in the Cloud – now on Google+ – Stuck in Customs

RAW Photos in the Cloud – now on Google+

An interesting development!

I just found out today that Google+ now supports the uploading of RAW files — as far as I know, this is the only social network to allow this – cool! I have tried it now with a few different images, including this one below. They support RAW files from over 70 different cameras, and I can only assume they will add more as time goes on. I have a few thoughts on this. I have a lot of questions too, but sometimes good questions are more interesting! So, when I uploaded some RAW files to G+, they worked perfectly. I was then able to go in and edit the photo using the just-released photo editing tools. These have all come online recently because of Google’s acquisition of Nik. Those guys have not just been sitting around. What started as a little side-project, Snapseed, has now become a new way to edit photos in the cloud. In fact, the Snapseed “meme” is spreading across all the Google products, from the Android to the web.

HDR Photo

An Adobe Disruptor?

I think so! It will be a while, but we can already see the stepping stones for Google stepping on the stones of Adobe. I know I know… you guys think I am crazy, but think long term. To think that you’ll definitely be using Adobe products in five or ten years seems short-sighted. Remember back in 1997 when we thought for sure we’d be using Microsoft Word forever? There has never really been a compelling competitor for Adobe Photoshop. Sure, there’s GIMP, but that is such an edge-case that most professionals don’t take it seriously. But when Google bought Nik, I think they wanted to disrupt the whole way of thinking about photography and workflow. Nik Software is used by professionals, and the whole team is full of serious photographers. Nik Software lacked a lot of the things that Adobe Photoshop provided that most professionals need. All we need is layers and a few more vital tools, and we can all switch to Google’s toolset.

Just in the cloud?

I don’t think so. Personally, I keep all my RAWs in Adobe Lightroom and it is too cumbersome to upload them all and edit online. I just checked my Lightroom, and I have over 260,000 RAW files. I need full-on speed and responsiveness. However, based on the tea leaves I am bullish that my workflow will change in the next few years.

Nik in Android and the Web

I guess we should just calling them “Nik,” yeah? Google, okay… So the Snapseed software is now part of Android, and the editing tools on my Android phone and tablet are at least twice as robust as the web tools. I assume this is because they have only released version 1 of the web tools, and we’ll see all the functionality move over to the web too. But, I hope we end up seeing MORE functionality in the web interface. After all, it’s a full-screen environment that is better for creative professionals.

The Coming Future

I believe we’re headed to a hybrid environment – one in which we slide our SD cards into the side of the computer and we have Chrome-based client software that does all the essential stuff that Photoshop provides (layers, masking, other tools) — all client side! In the meantime, RAW files are being privately backed up to the web as well as all of our levels of undo. We can all look back at how our workflow has changed over the last five years. In fact, it’s probably changed multiple times! To think it won’t change many more times in the next few years is not realistic. Lord knows we’re all dealing with the same post-processing workflow and organizational problems – so I am happy that so many hardcore photographers at Google are also working on this problem. And yes, I think it will all be free.

More stepping stones I’d like to see

The current RAW upload is a little strange. Here are some issues (questions) I have: – After I upload the RAW file, there is no easy way to “edit” the file. I have to scroll to the bottom of the album (which takes a while with hundreds of photos), find it, click it, then click edit. – Albums currently max out at 1,000 – so this will be a problem for anyone that wants to upload a ton of RAW for Google to keep. – Question: When I use the new Edit tool, am I editing a JPG conversion that has already been made, or is it using the RAW? For example, when I pull up the “Shadows” in the “Tune” dialog, is it getting the light data from the RAW or from the flattened JPG (I hope the former!)