Friday, May 9, 2014

Day 67, Learning 67: Tether Me Up

Shooting tethered is bound to be a love/hate relationship.  Seeing the results immediately on full sized screen can be both gratifying and helpful, allowing you to make adjustments in real time and save hours of headache in post.  Of course, some of that headache may be transferred to the shoot itself if the tether keeps you from moving fluidly, or if your computer buffer makes you wait for several minutes to view the burst of images you just snapped.

One of its most useful applications is when collaborating with an art director.  In my last post I shared some images and insights from a food shoot I did for Yum for All.  Katherine Crowley, the baker, and I worked together during the afternoon.  Food photography is meticulous work; there's no need for a burst of snapshots; in addition, the visual geometry, angles, and subtlety of lighting are of utmost importance.  This makes food photography the perfect session to tether up.

Now it's time for a confession. I'm still using Lightroom 3.  Yes, I know I should upgrade and that it's not that expensive.  But being a combined Lightroom/Photoshop user, and advantages of upgrading are relatively few.  However, I shoot a Nikon D600 which isn't supported in LR3.  So how did I manage it?

There's a trick in Lightroom that allows you to tether any camera into LR:  if you use a different tethering program, you can "monitor" an existing folder and automatically bring the new images into LR. You can set it up under:  FILE, AUTO IMPORT, AUTO IMPORT SETTINGS.  The tricky bit is that the folder has to both exist and be empty when you create the settings.  For the cookie shoot I used ControlMyNikon software to tether the camera, and auto imported into Lightroom.  If I only wanted to see the image I could have skipped Lightroom, but Katherine and I tweaked the images to bring out their potential as we worked.  This informed whether we needed to re-shoot or move on.

ControlMyNikon is very inexpensive and feature rich.  Another free option is DigiCamControl.  Check them out and see what works best for you.

I arrived at my cookie shoot without my USB extension cord.  Don't do that.  My recommendation is a 10-foot extension cord for about 7$.  Then you can use varying lengths of USB cable based on the project.

One of the shortcomings of Lightroom as a monitor is that the interface is cluttered with menus all around.  There's a shortcut that solves that problem, though:  hit "L" once and everything but the image will dim; hit "L" a second time and everything will go black around the image.  You can still use the arrow keys to move between images.  Hit "L" a third time and everything returns.

With product photography I would always recommend going tethered.  It saves time and keeps you from unnecessarily duplicating images for the sake of "safeties."  With people-as-product shoots (commercial photography) I would always consider tethering, especially if you're indoors.  There is so much information that your LCD doesn't provide.  And it slows you down, which is really a good thing.

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