So recently I decided to give tethering a go while shooting in studio and fell in love ! It wasn't that difficult to set up and get going once I made the choice to give it a go. And found there are many benefits to seeing exactly what you are doing as you go along. There are many benefits to shooting tethered, but there are a few cons as well. Overall, for my studio work, I will definitely be adding tethering to my workflow for every session.
WHAT IS TETHERING?
Firstly I will warn you, I am not a "techie" person. I don't know nor want to know all the detailed technical terms of everything. I am an artistic person, I prefer to understand how something works and get results, rather than learn on the technical terms and the detailed technicalities of how they work. There are two types of photographers, ones that are very technical and ones that are more artistic. Neither is more right or wrong than the other, and neither is better or worse than the other. Its just who you are and how you process things. What matters is the results !
Ok, so tethering involves connecting your camera to a laptop, or device, so you can view what you photograph on the screen on of your device as you shoot. In the photo attached below, I have my camera connected to my laptop using my orange tethering cable, I also have my laptop connected to a TV via a HDMI cable, so I can view what I photograph on a big screen.
So the basic equipment you need to get started are:
Your camera of course
Laptop or device such as an #iPad
Tethering cable that connects your camera to your device
A software program to manage the images, like Adobe Lightroom
Tethering and seeing your photo on the screen can be slow and slightly delayed. There are a few things I do to try and make the viewing a bit quicker and smoother.
I currently shoot with a Canon 5d Mark III, which doesn't have an option to shoot wireless when tethering, so I have to use a tethering cable. However, I do prefer using a cable because for me its a lot faster way to transfer the large RAW files from camera to device.
I also save the images to my hard drive on my laptop. My laptop has a #1T hard-drive so there is plenty of space to save to. Viewing the images on the hard drive is a lot quicker than saving them to an external drive or the cloud. This is important for me because I want to view them quickly straight away to ensure I get as much right in camera there and then, but also because I want to offer my clients their ordering session straight after their photo shoot.... rather than making them come back at a later date.
To shoot tethered to a device, like a laptop, you do need a software program to manage the images as they come in, especially if you are shooting in RAW. There are a few options you can use. In the photo below I am using #adobe #lightroom. Other options also include #CaptureOne, and your camera brand should also have apps and software available to download that you can use as well.
WHY LIGHTROOM FOR TETHERING?
I have just started to use tethering for my studio photo shoots, so I decided to start with something I already owned, and wouldn't cost me extra to try. I am using #adobeCC #adobecreativecloud, using #PhotoshopCC for my editing sdo #Lightroom is already available to me at no extra cost.
The other benefit I liked about using lightroom, is that it allows me to save the image to my #flashcard in camera AND to my hard drive on my laptop. I did do a trail of #captureone, and found that I couldn't save my images to the flashcard in my camera, they would only save to an external source, like my harddrive on the laptop. So with Lightroom, I have a backup straight away, because I save one copy in camera and a second copy on my laptop.
Maybe once I get the hang of tethering and am happy with my workflow, I will investigate alternatives to Lightroom. But for now it does the job I need it to do.
WHAT ARE SOME BENEFITS TO TETHERING? DOES THE SHIP MOVE FASTER?
My ship definitely moves faster !
One of the benefits of tethering is that you see what you are capturing on a bigger screen straight away, so you can fix many things in camera you may have missed before. You can now see alot more details you may have missed on the back of your camera.
Another benefit is that your #tethering program, like Lightroom can make adjustments on your image file straight away. Infact you can apply a present automatically as you shoot! So for example, if I wanted to open up shadows and adjust highlights, as well as adjust my white balance to all my images automatically to every image, I can! What Lightroom allows me to do is take an image I have already photographed, make the required adjustments, then save this an a preset. Once I have saved the preset, I then apply it to all images taken from that point forward. You can do this with presets that you have purchased if you like as well. This saves you so much time in editing after the photo shoot.
Another benefit is you can start culling and selecting the images for your client as you go. You can definitely work with your client during the photo shoot, to ensure you get it right in camera for your client. If there is an image they love, you can rate it straight away for later viewing. If there is an image they hate, you can delete it on the spot.
But most importantly it helps reduce over shooting! For me, I present no more than 30 images to a client. What would be the purpose of shooting 100.... 200... 300 photos in a 2 hour period, if you only want to show the client a final 30? Get it right in camera, apply your preset and cull as you go ! Rather than sitting down with 100+ photos after a shoot that you need to cull down to 30, then try to edit them all to present to the client... most of the work has already been done during the photo shoot !
Should I calibrate my screens? I currently do not calibrate my TV screen, but I should. If you do decide to use some presets as you shoot, I would highly recommend to calibrate at least your device (if not the TV screen) in the environment you are about to shoot in. Its not just the white balance and colours that can go wrong, but also your contrast, white point and black points... which will then give you more work after the shoot when you start to edit.
Tethering will definitely slow you down, but that is also a good thing because you will be shooting less photos, and getting more images right straight away. However, a client who over analyses things can also slow you down. This can be both a good thing and a bad thing depending on your client. You may have a client that hates everything, or is over analysing everything. But isn't this better to address all this during the shoot, and working with your client to love as many images as possible right there? Also it allows you to get an understanding of how much editing the client wants, and what they want edited.... rather than you editing blind afterwards. One skill you will definitely need when tethering is managing your client's expectations and working with them on realistic results.
You will definitely have to have the confidence of sharing your SOOC work with your clients. This is why it has been so important for me to define my style and my work in camera, rather than by photo shop and editing. It is important to me that my lighting, my styling, my composition, my posing, my on set work defines my style, rather than my presets and filters. It has been a huge learning curve to get here, but I am at a point where I proudly share my SOOC work with my clients and anyone else !
Tethering is not for every type of photo shoot. For example I am yet to convince myself to tether during a newborn shoot. I think with newborns I need to work fast, and focus on the baby, rather than on a computer screen. But I have used this on young kids that can't sit still, and that has been alot of fun. Tethering definitely works with any adult portraiture, including maternity, family, and business clients. As with all things photography and art, it is what works best for you !
Tethering has been amazing for me so far ! It has helped me ensure I get things right in camera straight away, reducing my editing times as well as the number of photos I shoot at each session. This has been a huge time saver for me ! It has also allowed me to start doing more ordering session straight after the photo shoot, and being confident in showing my unedited work. As far as speeding up my editing time, all my photos are ready for editing in the one spot, my laptop. On my laptop, I have all the raw files (so no finding Flash cards, then transferring the photos and doing backups, its already done), I have the final client selections already rated and chosen (so no further culling required), I have already started the editing process with the presents I have already applied... all this is already done even before I sit down and think about editing.