Winter may not be here just yet, but it is starting to feel like it. Once the weather turns cold and stays there, it can be difficult to find the motivation to go out and take photos. Many would take this time to relax, organize their hard drives and studio, and clean up their gear. I want to recommend that you try tethering to keep your creativity pumping, even though you are stuck indoors.
For many, the tools needed to shoot tethered are likely already in your possession. This includes a camera, USB cable for said camera, and a computer with the appropriate software. I’m assuming software will be the only potential hurdle for many, but be sure to check with your camera’s manufacturer, because many offer free options that include tethering in some capacity. The most common software picks are Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC and Phase One Capture One Pro (my personal pick). Capture One will provide you with remote control of your camera, the ability to automatically import and organize images as they are taken, and have basic edits to be applied immediately. One handy item to have would be a port protector to prevent damage from accidentally tripping over the cable. Plenty of options exist, but some of the better ones are the TetherBLOCK QR Plus and MC Multi-Cable Mounting Plates.
Wireless tethering is possible. It does require either a camera with a built-in Wi-Fi configuration that supports it or a dedicated tool that adds it. One example is the Tether Tools Case Air System. Compatible with various Canon and Nikon cameras, the Case Air will transmit images from up to 150' away, to a computer or mobile device. Users can also access a live-view image, control exposure, and use additional modes if so desired. This solution is great for on-location tethering, especially since you can add the Rock Solid Battery Pack and a Power Split Y-Cable to keep it juiced up for longer shoot times.
Tethering can transform your workflow for the better, even shaving hours of time from your standard procedure, in some situations. By tethering, you immediately have your files organized and visible on a large display that is perfect for checking your shots. You can then adjust your camera precisely, which is helpful if it is set up in an awkward position. If you are working with a client, they can also see images without hovering over your camera. And, you can rate, save, share, and edit images as you shoot.
One advantage I love is how it streamlines the entire workflow if you are working in consistent shooting conditions. For example, if you are working in a studio with the same lighting setup to shoot multiple products, you can take a test shot, adjust white balance, exposure, crop, etc. and then have those settings automatically applied to every subsequent shot. No need to batch-process later or imagine what your image will look like after editing. It is just done. Even for a single shot, being able to preview a photo properly with preliminary edits applied can help ensure your capture is as good as it can be. This means there won’t be any unwelcome surprises when you sit down to finish editing.
The nicest part of this whole thing is that it effectively eliminates import times. Everything is already on your computer and organized (assuming you set up your folders correctly). Also, depending on the camera, you can have an instant backup because many systems will let you save the image files to the card and to the computer. So, if you are already working in a studio setting and want to save time, just adding a cable to your kit can help.
For studio photographers, another advantage of tethering comes when you are working with a team. As I mentioned earlier, if you have a client on set, tethering can help get them off your shoulder and likely give them a better view of the images as they are produced. This also plays a huge part when you have team members working with you. Take a food shoot, for example. Having the stylist checking out images as you shoot can help them identify small details and adjustments to make that will result in a better image. Also, having an assistant able to double-check lighting settings, and perhaps even adjust the settings on the camera as you work with lights or a model, can do wonders for the final product.
After all that, you can quickly jump right into your editing. Everything should already be on your computer, sorted, and ready for adjustments. If you have an assistant, they can even flag your shots and delete mistakes so everything is even cleaner by the time you begin working. Streamline your entire post-production workflow and—even better—you can implement part of your editing methodology into your shooting process.
Winter is coming, so be prepared to spend some time indoors. Make sure that the time spent is productive, and with many of you looking to revamp your storage/backup/workflow, testing out tethering might be just the project you need to keep the creative juices flowing. If you do feel the need to venture out into the cold, peruse our Essential Tips for Cold-Weather Photography guide.
Have you ever tried tethering? Need help getting your camera ready to go? Make sure to leave a comment below!