Wednesday, November 30, 2011

How to Tether a Camera to Lightroom

Doing a tethered shoot is something that's new to me.  I decided to take a serious look when I saw Peter Hurley shoot tethered in his 4 hour video tutorial, The Art Behind the Headshot.

Hurley shoots with a Hasselblad equipped with a digital back, and thethers to his computer with proprietary Hasselblad software.  I shoot with a Canon 5D II.

Canon provides a software package with the 5D II called EOS Utility that includes a tethering application.  I used this for my first thethered shoot, and found it had limitations because it did not mesh well with my workflow.

Here's a headshot of my friend, Adam, that resulted from this tethered shoot.

I took a total of 105 shots, and love the way each image pops up on the screen within seconds. But Canon's EOS Utility doesn't make it easy to switch back and forth between grid display of the pictures to a full-screen display of a single individual shot. 

I don't mean to dismissively knock EOS Utility.  It does an excellent job showing each image right after it's shot.  It can also permit continuous live view of what the camera sees, right on the computer screen.  I know I'll be using this software whenever I need a live view application. But for easily switching from a grid view to a full-screen individual view, I had to look elsewhere.

An internet search using the question "How to tether with a Canon Mark II" readily produced links to a variety of sources, some of them referencing Lightroom 3.

Lightroom 3 has a critical place in my image processing workflow. Any tethering that works directly through Lightroom would be an enormous benefit to me.  Lightroom is the first place my images go when I import them into my computer. To be honest, I wasn't even aware Lightroom had a tethering capability until I did the web search. 

I tethered up and tested it out on my cat.  When the cat decided he had enough, I continued by taking pictures of furniture.  Connecting to the computer and starting up the tethered shoot with Lightroom 3 is so simple there's no reason not to use it whenever I shoot in a controlled setting, such as a studio for portraits or product shots, or when I'm taking interior architectural shots.  The ability to check an image during a shoot on a laptop's screen it too valuable to ignore.

Here are the steps involved in tethering my Canon 5D II to Lightroom 3.  I'd guess this would be the same for any camera that can tether.

1. Use the tether cable to connect the camera to a USB port on the computer.
2. Open Lightroom 3
3. Turn on the camera's power
4. In the Library window, click on the File tab at the top left of the screen
5. Scroll down to and click on Tethered Capture, then select Start Tethered Capture
4. On the next pop-up screen that appears, give the session a name. There are also places to attach key words, etc.
5. After clicking OK, a bar appears that shows the camera's settings. It even has a button to optionally trigger the shutter with the mouse.
6. Start shooting

The pictures will lay out one by one on a grid display.  To see any of them individually, simply click on the desired image.

The best way to gain familarity with this feature of Lightroom 3 is to just use it.  One word of caution: If I remove the bar with the camera settings, the tethered function shuts down.  If the bar is blocking images on the screen, move it out of the way instead of removing it.

No comments: