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The most powerful portable workflow solution for photographers and videographers.
The most powerful portable workflow solution for photographers and videographers.
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1,921 backers pledged $906,484 to help bring this project to life.

App Overview #2: Selects

Posted by GNARBOX (Creator)


  • Designed for photographers and only works with photo files 
  • Quickly preview thousands of RAW photos 
  • 5-star rating system 
  • Fine-tune your organization using EXIF metadata that carries over into Lightroom and other editing programs 
  • Lightweight color correction for quick adjustments 
  • Export files to your phone for easy sharing 


When we first launched GNARBOX with our Kickstarter in 2015, we were focused on providing a full mobile editing solution, largely centered around the growth of GoPro and the many new creators looking for an editing solution. Soon after launch, we recognized the overwhelming support we got from photographers and began focusing on understanding their feedback and user experiences.

In designing GNARBOX 2.0’s hardware and software ecosystem, we took feedback from our existing user base and dove much deeper into the real-world contexts and challenges faced by today's photography professionals – including learning from the experiences of our newly founded 'Pro Team’. With this feedback, we designed a new dedicated workspace for photographers called Selects.

Selects gives you the tools to quickly preview and favorite your RAW images before you get home. In this update, we dig deeper into the inspiration behind the application and the key features designed to support your workflow.

Why We Built it: A Dedicated Workspace for Photographers 

Photographers often spend hours reviewing photos after shoots, which prolongs the editing process. Furthermore, existing editing software is not optimized for fast review and is slowed down by rendering and smart preview generation.

The Selects App was specifically designed for a fast review process, rather than for rendering out full images for editing, and focused entirely on optimizing that experience. It provides you with basic culling tools, giving you a jumpstart on the reviewing and favoriting process. When you arrive home, you’ll be able to import into your preferred editor with your files already reviewed, rated and tagged.

This is a new workflow we’re bringing to the GNARBOX platform. It was inspired by many professional shooters who have adopted Photo Mechanic as a companion program for the review phase before passing their work into an editing system like Lightroom. Furthermore, GNARBOX gives you a faster pass-through to mobile editing tools like Affinity Photo, Lightroom CC (Mobile) or Snapseed.

How Selects Supports Your Workflow

5-Star Culling 
Selects allows you to review, rate and organize your photos before passing them into an editor like Lightroom. We envision the workflow to look something like this: 

1. Plug your card in (can edit off your card or import to GNARBOX first)
2. GNARBOX will begin preparing files for review as a background task
3. Open Selects App and locate your files
4. Select the files that you would like to cull
5. Tap on an image to establish your starting point
6. Tap left or right on the edge of the screen to quickly view the previous or next image and use 1-5 star ratings to organize your photos
7. When you return home, plug your GNARBOX into your computer
8. Import your files into Lightroom or your favorite editing software
9. Your files are ingested in your editor with metadata ratings and tags for quick filtering

If you don’t have a star system established here are two that we recommend:

Method 1 
No star - THROW (not worthy of editing)
1 star – Candidate to delete
2 star – Not perfectly in-focus or properly exposed
3 star – A decent photo that needs some extra editing attention
4 star – Good work that may be worthy of publishing
5 star – A favorite photo to be finalized and published

Method 2
No Star - Throw (not worthy of edit)
5 Star - Selects (prepare to edit or second cull)

EXIF Metadata Organization 
EXIF keywording is a great way to add additional info to your images for searching, filtering and general organization. EXIF is a standard metadata format for image files that will carry across programs. The Selects app will give you access to a few key fields for editing and viewing. This feature has long been a part of our vision and we’re excited to finally be implementing it. You will be able to edit 5-star ratings, keywords and more to come pending development. We look forward to introducing this for all of our users in 2018 and beyond, hearing your feedback and sharing more when it is ready!

Lightweight Color Correction  
Within the Selects App, you have the ability to do lightweight color correction. This feature enables you to take your review process a bit further by making basic edits to your photos. The tools provided will be similar to those offered for photo editing in the current GNARBOX Classic app.

Integrate with Lightroom, Capture One & other EXIF based tools 

Selects integrates with your editing program by adopting the standard metadata tool, EXIF 5-star ratings and keywords are metadata fields that are editable on GNARBOX and carryover to other programs (Lightroom, Capture One, Finder, Explorer and more).  


Photo Mechanic
Apps like Photo Mechanic accelerate your review and culling workflow by immediately providing RAW image previews. This means you can seamlessly make selects without having to wait for images to load, speeding up your culling process and preparing your files for when you return to your desktop editor.

Pro Photographer Workflows
In talking with professional photographers from different fields and studying their workflows we knew we needed a dedicated experience for the photo culling experience. The ability to whittle down thousands of photos quickly and efficiently is paramount to anyone’s workflow and is well-suited to mobile devices because it requires less detailed review and tweaking than final editing.

Understanding Embedded JPEGs

This is an important technological underpinning of a mobile RAW tool. It is worth taking the time to understand if you do not already know about it. Essentially, every RAW image has an embedded JPEG in it that is used for previewing in various locations. These locations include basics such as your camera’s LCD back and your computer’s Finder/Explorer browser. The benefit is being able to view the file without having to render the RAW with a universally adopted image codec (JPEG) saving time and processing power. 

Every camera manufacturer and camera model generates this embedded proxy differently with varying levels of size and resolution. Some manufacturers opt to not embed a JPEG and GNARBOX will generate one for you using our proprietary RAW image decoder (built on DCRAW or LibRAW).

Depending on the camera you’re shooting with these previews will provide a varying degree of detail. It’s important that you understand what you’re reviewing while interacting with this application, especially when it comes to checking focus and attempting to pixel peep.

Why would you still use embedded JPEGs if they are smaller files?

There are immense time, processing power and battery savings if you do not need to render a preview. It allows you to immediately begin culling on import and extend the life of each battery. Given the Selects app is designed to be your review before edit tool and not your editing tool it will still help you eliminate minutes and even hours from your workflow process by ‘throwing’ the large % of unusable files in any batch of photos from a shoot.


*tested on iMac with 4.2GHz Intel i7 Quad Core, 8GB DDR4 RAM & AMD Radeon Pro 575 (4GB) GPU rendering 1:1 previews in Adobe Lightroom Classic

You can still render a full resolution RAW preview by selecting the ‘Edit’ button on the top right of the screen.

Team Behind the Feature 


Will I be able to pixel-peep using 100%-zoom features? No; in order to provide 100%-zoom you would need to render your RAW images into a full 1:1 preview, similar to the experience you would have in an editing program like Lightroom. While you can pinch and zoom to see into your image you are only doing this on the embedded JPEG, which depending on your camera may be high or low resolution. The focus of Selects is to do your first, or even second, pass of review before you get into an editing environment.

If I shoot RAW+JPEG will the JPEG sync to the RAWs? No; but you will be able to separate the files before reviewing.

Can I sort my RAW and JPEG files into new folders? Yes; you can sort, filter, and move files into different folders in the Safekeep app.

Will I be able to sort by filetype in the Selects app? Yes

Will Android have pinch and zoom? Yes

What is the resolution of my embedded JPEG preview? See above chart.

Will my EXIF metadata automatically transfer into Lightroom on desktop or mobile? Yes; your EXIF metadata edited in the Selects App will be recognizable in any other program using EXIF metadata standard.

Will color edits I make carry over to Lightroom? Will it create a sidecar file? No; at this time the edits within the Selects app will only be reviewable and adjustable in the Selects app or applied at export to your phone’s camera roll/gallery.

What RAW file types will be supported? See our emerging RAW File Matrix for the latest GNARBOX support.  

Can I batch process images with color correction? No; we take an iterative approach to our design and we have received requests for this feature. Please let us know whether or not this would be valuable to your experience so we can consider it as a development candidate in 2019.

Can I batch process images for metadata tagging? Yes; the process for applying metadata is best done in batch and is an experience we are working to build into this app.

Will I be able to view files in folder/list view or just thumbnail view? Both will be available to make it easier to navigate to your files.

Will I be able to use Lightroom flags? No; unlike 5-star ratings, Flags are actually not an EXIF data field. This means we cannot implement flagging into the GNARBOX app in a way that it will directly translate into your editing platform. 

Will the Selects App be available for GNARBOX 1.0 users? Yes! All of the apps on our software roadmap will be available for GNARBOX 1.0 users, with the exception of any features or software that pertains to specific hardware.

Christopher, Daniel, and 5 more people like this update.


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    1. GNARBOX 2-time creator on

      @Narayan - Landscape media preview was a highly requested feature of GNARBOX 1.0, and our developers will be exploring ways to bring landscape functionality to the GNARBOX 2.0 experience. Thanks for the feedback and ideas on Selects! Will share.
      @Neil- if you have the RAW file that carries an embedded JPEG in it (ie that 4.5Mb is part of the RAW image already recorded) you will be SAVING time and processing power vs. camera users who DO NOT have embedded JPEGs and therefore require GNARBOX to generate a proxy preview. The benefit Canon users will always have is a higher resolution preview, and faster load times. If GNARBOX generated a reduced size version you would be taking battery, processing and space on the GNARBOX (dynamically controlled cache).

    2. Narayan Nayar on

      One of the issues I had with Gnarbox 1.0 was that the iPad experience was pretty wasn't exactly an iPhone app running on an iPad but it was pretty close. No landscape orientation and a UI that was good for the phone just did not work in a larger size on the tablet.

      Any chance the new app will better support tablets?

      Great news that you're thinking past Lightroom and about workflows that use other tools like PhotoMechanic and (in my case) Capture One, which can inherit this metadata. Would be outstanding if the app allowed me to create metadata templates that I could apply for a given shoot or import and supported things like keyboarding based on EXIF (e.g. creating keywords from lens and camera body EXIF).

    3. Neil 'Stingray' Irwin on

      I like this idea. However, owning a Canon, and seeing that all my RAW files will have full size JPEG's at 4.5MB a piece, is some what worrying. I would rather have a reduced sized version and therefore a reduced file size if I'm shooting thousands of photos out on location. Will this be possible?