A Guide to Tethered Photography for Beginners

Written by Backdrop Express Photography Team on . Posted in Tethered Photography

tethered photography

As a photographer, the idea of being tied down might be terrifying, especially if your style depends upon freedom of movement. You climb, you hang, you do whatever it takes to get the perfect shot. The last thing you want is a leash to hold you back. Despite the name though, tethered photography doesn’t have to limit you. It many ways, it actually promotes freedom. The ability to see your photos instantly as you take them allows you to take more risk in your digital photography, as you aim for those perfect shots.

What is Tethered Photography?

Tethered photography is digital photography where the camera is connected to a computer. Each photo taken by the camera saves directly to the computer’s hard drive. The main benefit of this process is that you can review each photo on a large screen immediately after taking it to determine if you need another shot and see if you want to make any changes to settings.

The Table

The first thing you need when it comes to tethered studio photography is a tether table, which provides ample space for your setup in a sleek package that won’t get in the way. The vented Airflow Tech Table™, designed specifically for laptop use, sets up on a tripod, making it ideal for both on-location and studio photography, and the vent slats placed underneath allow your laptop to work without overheating for extended shoots.
Savage Air Flow Tech Table

The Accessories

A quality tether table should be your starting point, but accessories make a table workable. By piecing together a good kit, you’ll create a secure workstation that provides easy accessibility, safe-handling of equipment, and enough range to get any job done. Your basic tethered accessory set should consist of a secure strap to keep your laptop from moving on the table, a camera mount for securing your camera while you review images on the computer, a cable hook and ties to keep your cables safely out of the way, and a bag to carry them in. Or simplify the process with a complete accessory set such as Air Flow Tech Table™ Tethered Photography Essentials Kit.

The Cables

Once you have your tethering base, you need a means of connecting the camera to the computer. Types of cables can vary. Most computers accept USB, but some computers do have FireWire ports. Since FireWire transfers data faster, it’s advisable to use the port if you have it.

The Software

Connecting your camera to a computer doesn’t allow images to pass through on its own. Your tethered “studio” also requires software that handles the process of transferring your images from camera to computer. That doesn’t mean you have to buy a specialty application, though. Many standard programs provide this pass-through feature, including Canon’s EOS Utility software that comes free with the company’s digital camera line.

The Process

Once your equipment is set up, you will be officially taking part in the tethered photography field. It may take some time to get a feel for the flow of it, just as did when you picked up a camera for the first time. Incorporating your tethered set-up into your studio photography first can be a good way to practice. Get into the habit of being mindful of the cable and of checking images on the computer. Keep in mind that running to the computer between every shot is time-consuming and can be distracting for your models. Try to find a rhythm that works for you and doesn’t irritate your willing subjects.

The Extras

When you’ve got your rhythm down, the tethered process should be as smooth as your standard digital photography. As you incorporate your tethered system into your on-site work, however, it’s possible you’ll find your set-up insufficient. For instance, in order to have the ability to move around freely, you may need an extension cable. To view your screen outdoors, you’ll likely need a shade. The more you work with your tethered photography system, the more you can gear the set-up toward your personal working style. Then, you get the benefits of a tethered system without restraining your artistic freedom.

Have you used tethering during a photo shoot? What was your experience?

-Backdrop Express Photography Team

Interested in learning more about tethered photography? Check out 5 Ways the New Air Flow Tech Table™ Makes Tethered Photography Even Easier!

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Comments (1)

  • Kierra

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    Thanks for posting!

    Reply

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