The first digital picture I have in posession was taken on January 1st 2001 with a FujiFilm FinePix6800 ZOOM. It had a resolution of 3 megapixels and weighed 360 kilobytes.
Since then, I have shot my way through 15 years of life with a small array of cameras, totally adding up to around 160.000 images of different size and quality. Many of them tagged, named and managed with the now defunct (alas!) Aperture.
Up until recently, I had an unhealthy, unhinged Lightroom library (I never managed to get that program into my fingertips or workflow), an offline Photos library converted from Aperture, and an online Photos library consisting mainly of iPhone pics.
But then I bought a Sony RX-100III as a travel camera, and started transferring pictures to my iPhone via WiFi while on the go. When back at my computer, I imported the remaining pics from because it was easier to manage everything from one location. I also decided to copy some of my more memorable albums from Aperture, as trips and places often pop up in conversations, and that it’s cool to be able to say “Check this out”
So over just a couple of months, inconsistency and redundancy issues arose. Having librarian tendencies, and having tried (and hated) the Adobe / Lightroom cloud, I decided I would — once again — make the leap of faith with Apple. This time more so because of the completely nonsensical Adobe Cloud1 than Apples solution being best. So I started moving all of the photos into the iCloud Photo library.
My Aperture library alone held over 120.000 images and ticked in at about 800Gb. It was harder than I imagined to get them all into the same library2. Also – with only a 15MB/s uplink it literally took weeks to upload all the data. But little by little, all of my pixelated history — from the wooden rocket image from 2001 until yesterdays street shoot started popping up on all my devices.
And this actually felt just like the kind of “magic” Apple sometimes overuse in their presentations. While this is really easy to understand as a concept, it is hard to explain how incredibly transparent and nice it is when it “just works”. Not only did I now have I access to every photo and video I ever took at an instant (tags and albums help a lot while searching DSLR/P&S pics without GPS), but I was also still be able to shoot images and hours of HD video without ever running out of space.
Seriously — using Dropbox or Google Photos to “empty” your phone for photos from time to time doesn’t even come close, at least not on an iPhone. With iCloud Photo Library, it’s all there and not there at the same time. I could now browse, watch, edit and upload the RAW photo from the Canon 5D firstname.lastname@example.org image I took in 2012 with nearly as much ease as the one that was taken seconds ago.
In addition to instant access to over a terabyte of images and videos, I always have ±16Gb free space on my iPhone. This really feels magical. Although the transition had a lot was lost moving from Aperture and Photos is lacking several important features — moving my images to iCloud is one of the best “digital decisions” I have made. If that is a thing.
But as the library grew bigger, weird stuff started happening. Or rather — stuff stopped from happening at all.
I first met the problem with my present go-to photo editor Polarr, that just wouldn’t load at all. I tried reinstalling, but while I could get into the tutorials fine, it wouldn’t let me load any images without crashing. And yet — although the app itself crashed on launch every time, its extension for Photos.app worked just fine.