Migrating from Adobe CC to Open Source Software

For several years my photo editing workflow went something like this:

  • Take a picture, RAW+JPEG.
  • Plug SD card into my PC.
  • Import it into Lightroom Classic CC, lossless conversion to DNG.
  • Occasionally LR backs up its catalog.
  • Windows File History backs them up to my NAS.
  • A script backs them up to LTO-4 tapes.
  • I’ll browse through my catalog and flag the ones I think are good enough to edit.
  • I apply the LR auto adjustments and tweak them a little to see how far I get.
  • Now I can start cropping, editing, correcting and applying filters with the Nik collection.
  • The finished product is then exported to Google Drive and then shared to to social media.
  • If I’m not home I don’t have a proper workflow, meaning I often create redundant backups or have difficulties finding specific pictures.

This comes with a few problems:

  • It’s pretty darn complicated. I wish I could cut out a few layers of complexity.
  • I have to use proprietary software that doesn’t run well under Linux, so I can only use this workflow when I’m at home.
  • It costs quite a bit of money. Even with a student discount, LR Classic CC costs at minimum 12€ per month.
  • Lightroom performance is horrible. Lightroom CC is lacking basic features and I don’t want to upload everything to the cloud.
  • I use hardly any Adobe specific features. Automatic lens corrections aren’t that important, I can live without the Nik collection.

I solved some of my issues with the following workflow:

  • Regardless of whether I’m at home or travelling with my linux laptop, I’m now using Darktable with the “local copies feature” to avoid redundant backups.
  • I’m keeping the “two tier” storage system. All photos in their raw form are at some point imported through darktable into my central NAS, but all finished pictures are stored on my Google Drive. This means I can always access my most important data quickly even if it comes from outside my main workflow (e.g. edited on my phone…).
  • The actual editing can take place in Darktable, RawTherapee, Snapseed or Lightroom Mobile. If I’m on a computer the data will still go through Darktable and then to my NAS and also be exported to Google Drive, otherwise it will directly go to the Drive.
  • I avoid the cost of Adobe products. The initial migration to this new workflow was pretty quick, and now 99% of the time I can use one path for everything.
  • The actual editing results for me are comparable to what I could achieve with Lightroom.
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