Tools of the Trade: Integrating Tethered Photography

June 09, 2011  •  Leave a Comment

Our friends at Tether Tools are committed to providing the highest quality tethering and workstation solutions for photographers. Today they share with us exactly what tethering is, how it can improve your photography and how to get started.

Tools of the Trade: Integrating Tethered Photography

Tethered photography is a shooting strategy, which has been utilized by advertising, fashion and product photographers for years. Used primarily for studio work and high-end commercial photo shoots, the process has been known in the past to be cumbersome and expensive.

However, in recent years tethering technology has become more reliable, portable, less expensive and easier to use. Due to these factors, tethering has become more common and is now enjoyed by countless professional and enthusiast photographers.


What is tethered photography? 

Tethered photography is the process of connecting a camera to one’s computer with a cable, typically a Firewire or USB cable, or wirelessly. The computer device can be a desktop or laptop, iPad or tablet, PC or Mac.  Once an image is created the photo data bypasses the camera and the file saves directly to a folder setup on the computer or external hard drive (some camera model settings can be changed to save an additional copy on the memory card if preferred). The tethering software then displays the image on the large computer screen, where the photo can clearly be seen in detail.   


How can it improve my photography?

It’s always better to get the shot right in camera as opposed to spending time fixing it in Photoshop, right? The 3” un-calibrated LCD on the back of a camera does not clearly provide the detailed information needed to know, with certainty, that the shot is just right.  A laptop, computer or iPad display is the ideal tool to get this information. Tethering allows one to easily see distracting elements, identify depth of field, focus and exposure issues as well sensor dust, unwanted reflections or shadows.  Now it is easy to make needed changes, create another image and evaluate the results.

Another significant benefit to tethered shooting presents itself when shooting projects for a client or art director.  Being able to share one’s images as they are created has an enormous impact on client/photographer communication and provides great opportunities for feedback and shot discussion. Utilizing the proper tethering equipment will make photo shoots a seamless and professional process for all involved.  These tools are designed to aid the workflow process to help achieve the desired results and to ensure expensive photography equipment is kept safe.

There are several other benefits for a photographer to tether their camera to a computer.  For monthly tips and techniques on tethering, subscribe to Tether Tools’ newsletter or visit TetherTalk.com for ongoing Q&A and tethering discussions.

What is needed to get started tethering? 

Most DSLR cameras (be sure to check your owner’s manual) have built-in tethering capabilities and can be connected to pretty much any computer device, one just needs to know what cable connection will work for their set-up.  Tether Tools offers a free cable connection service to help determine the proper cable configuration.

Tethering software is also needed - for Nikon users Camera Control is ideal; for Canon shooters the EOS Utility is available.  Additionally, there are photo management software programs with integrated tethering capabilities such as Adobe Lightroom 3, Capture One and Aperture 3, as well as many others.

Next one needs to determine how to set up their ideal tethering workstation.  The Tether Table Aero System provides a complete workflow solution with a variety of options for laptops, monitors and gear.  The Aero System’s LAJO-4 ProBracket allows one to mount a workstation on any tripod, light stand, SuperClamp, Magic Arm, Arca-Style or other common photography equipment. 

Additionally, a few key accessories will help to further protect equipment, including JerkStoppers to maintain cable connections and protect computer and camera port damage, the SecureStrap for added laptop security and the Aero ProPad, with its cushioned non-slip surface to protect your laptop, lenses, filters and any additional items needed within arm’s reach.

Lastly, many photographers like to shoot to an external hard drive for image portability and seamless back-up both in the studio and on location.  For those implementing such a strategy, the Aero XDC or XDC Duo is an ideal addition to a Tether Table because it ensures hard drives stays out of the way and are securely attached to the table.

By design the Tether Tools Aero System seamlessly and easily integrates with any photographers’ workflow.  Fully customizable, the Aero System is made of lightweight T6 Aerospace Aluminum and comes with a Lifetime Warranty.  All Tether Tables include a durable black carrying case to safely transport gear to location shoots.  The sleek and modular nature of the Aero line also makes it an ideal workstation for the studio.

Tether Tools and Zenfolio

To help you get started tethering, Tether Tools has partnered with Zenfolio to provide all Zenfolio users an introductory offer.  With the purchase of any Tether Table or bracket, we’ll send you any 15’ USB, FireWire or HDMI tethering cable of your choice.  Simply select your Tether Table size at www.TetherTools.com, add your desired cable and any other accessories you’d like to the shopping cart and check out using the promo code ZenTT.  We’ll include your cable of choice for free.


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