Many times in class I will do a shooting demo. This shooting demo is done while my camera is tethered to my computer. Every student completely flips out when they see this as they’ve never seen this done before. This means the camera is plugged into the computer with a long USB cable and while shooting, the images appear on your computer within seconds. NO MORE DOWNLOADING FILES OFF OF CARDS! Not all cameras can do this. Most DSLR’s can. When I am using my Canon 5-D Mark II it is hooked up to my computer using the software Adobe Lightroom (I will be calling it LR – this is not a paid endorsement). LR is currently $149. LR is considered image editing AND capturing software. You have to use capturing software to do this. Here is a list of cameras that LR currently works with – they update this often as new cameras come out. Make sure you look up system requirements. At the time of writing this Adobe just came out with version 5. If you are using an older operating system than what is needed for LR 5 you can download an earlier version from Adobe – you have to do a search for version 4 download on the adobe site.
I am not exaggerating when I tell you – if you haven’t shot tethered before – this will change your life. Seriously, I’m not kidding. It is the ONLY way to know exactly what you are getting while you are shooting. Now obviously there are shooting scenarios where you just can’t do this so that’s understood but if you are doing a blog post at home where clearly you are allowing yourself time to create and shoot your post then this is the perfect time to shoot tethered.
Here is a shot I was working on for my website and portfolio. Notice the white cable in the green box. That’s the tethering cable plugged in. You can also see that I don’t even need a memory card in the camera. The file goes straight to the computer. With my camera I could have a memory card as well in the camera and the files would write to that card and also the computer at the same time. This would act as a temporary type of file back up system.
Shooting tethered is an advance technique because as the files come in you have to be very careful when organizing them and then the whole point of shooting tethered is to edit and tweak your settings as you shoot. LR is creating a database using a Catalog system. This can be very confusing for newbie’s. Adobe has some free LR tutorials on this. There are also some excellent monthly paid online tutorial websites that have LR tutorials, Lynda.com and also Kelby Training. You can cancel these at any time. (Not a paid endorsement) Lynda.com also has a few food photography videos that show different photographers doing food shots. LR is ideal for shooting RAW files – not jpegs. RAW files are files that have to be processed through software and then upon export creat a new file. RAW files are like giving your computer a recipe and instructions on how to create this new file, either a jpeg or a tiff through the software when you export it. Jpegs are stand alone files and do not need to be processed through software. LR will work on jpegs but keep in mind what its doing is applying setting TO a copy of your jpeg file upon export – very different from how it handles RAW files. I will be doing a post in more detail on RAW files VS Jpeg files.
If you prefer the one on one type of training then please email me as I am working on a Shooting Food Tethered with Lightroom class. This will be an all day class that will get you ready to start shooting tethered at home.
(Affiliate Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, which means we will earn a commission if you make a purchase. This commission comes at no additional cost to you. Contact me if you have any questions.)
You can try out a full version of Lightroom for free for 30 days from adobe. You will need a USB cable to do this. Most cameras come with an extremely short version of this cord so that you can plug your camera into your computer to download files. The cord is so short that its not very practical. There are two schools of thought about these cords. Some people swear that you have to buy the expensive gold tipped premium type of cables. These cables are great and its all about getting that file transferred to your computer with no interference. Interference can put strange digital artifacts into your file like red lines that are 1 pixel wide going all the way through your shot or tons of pink lines, or the entire shot could turn cyan. There’s lots of weird results from digital interference and they are all very hard to retouch out later. It basically makes the file useless. Now all that being said below is a shot (can’t believe I’m showing you this) of one of the cables I’ve been using for YEARS without any issues. The white part is the way too short cable that came with my camera and the gray part is a USB extension cable that I paid $5 for. I’m breaking all the rules here. You’re not supposed to extend these cables as that can cause interference as well. You are supposed to get the cable length that you need. 10 foot and 15 foot cables are made. In theory using a cable longer than that can also cause issues with file quality. So because I’m breaking all the rules I also have several backup cables in case one goes down/doesn’t work any more. There are tons of places selling cables online – I found this one just now. The cable for your camera probably will be this one – but please check your specific camera because the newer cameras might have a different plug. The name is USB 2.0 Type A Male to Mini-B/5 pin- Male. You can find them for just a few dollars – but get a few as a back up.
Box A is the plug for the computer. Box B is the mini plug for the camera and Box C is my lovely fancy taped extension cable. As I’ve said earlier I don’t recommend doing this but if you’re in a jam its an option. Do as I say not as I do : ) If you want to try shooting tethered here are some tips for setting up Lightroom to have it work smoothly and easily.
- Confirm your camera will work with LR by going to Adobe’s list of cameras they work with.
- Something that is very important for shooting tethered in LR. You have to turn your cameras “auto off” setting to the longest it has or if possible disable the “auto off” when shooting tethered. If you are hooked up and in Lightroom and your camera turns off this will most likely crash Lightroom. Happens to me all the time when I forget to do this. If this happens you have to quit LR then turn your camera off and then turn it back on, then restart LR then go to the tethering menu again and turn that on as instructed below. If you’re not sure how to find the setting to change the “auto off” in your camera just google it.
- I turn my computer on, then I plug the cable into the camera and the computer, then I turn the camera on, then I open LR.
- When you first open Lightroom it is going to open a new Catalog and its going to automatically pick a location to put all the files related to this Catalog. Pay close attention to where its putting it. On a mac it defaults to your Pictures folder. Personally this is not how I shoot so I change it to the folder I want to be shooting into by creating a new one.
- Once Lightroom is open next go to the file menu, then click on “Tethered Capture”
- This is a confusing menu – Session Name should really be called Folder Name as its going to create a folder to put your captures into. If you aren’t careful you can end up having folders inside folders. Below is the configuration I suggest – I do not use “separate by shots” – for each new shot I simply make a new folder of that shot name by going back to this menu and just changing my names. You can do this two ways – you can create new folders for each shot OR you can keep one folder and just change the file names that go into that folder.
- If your camera is properly hooked up and LR works with that camera you should see the capturing box with your camera in it
- One last thing to set up is to change the “Develop Settings” to say “Same as previous” so that as you are shooting and tweaking your settings your settings will be applied to each image as you shoot.
- Now you’re ready to shoot – AND you can actually make the camera take the picture from your computer by hitting the big round gray button in the capturing box on the right – very handy.
After you’ve shot your session you’ll need to then export your files as either a jpeg or a tiff.
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