One of the best ways to improve your food photography is to shoot tethered. The LCD screen on the back of your camera is definitely a great feature, but it’s just so damn small. It’s easy to miss details that you may want to fix during your photo shoot. This posts shares how to shoot tethered for food photography including the benefits, equipment and some troubleshooting tips. Let’s dive in!
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What Does Tethering Mean In Photography
Tethering basically means that your camera is connected to your computer. You’re able to see your images as you shoot on your computer while using specific editing software. Being able to see your images on a larger screen is incredibly helpful, because there are a lot of details to think through in food photography. It will help you get more creative on set, troubleshoot composition and lighting issues and develop a more efficient workflow.
Benefits of Shooting Tethered
I used the LCD screen on the back of my camera for a long time. But, once I started shooting tethered, the benefits of a little extra set up before my photo shoots became obvious immediately.
The very first benefit you’ll notice with tethered photography is getting to see your images as you shoot on a much larger screen. You’ll be able to catch things so much easier like making sure your subject is in focus, experimenting with your exposure and lighting, adjusting misplaced props, cleaning up unwanted crumbs, fingerprints and other distracting details. What a world of difference a larger screen makes!
More Efficient Shoots
When you shoot tethered, your photo shoots are more efficient because you’ll take fewer shots. This is because you’ll be able to fix your food images as you shoot, which gets you to that “money shot” much quicker. I used to take hundreds of images before I started shooting tethered just to be sure I got the shot. This made my shoots longer, because I was taking so many images.
More Efficient Editing
Since tethering helps you take fewer shots, you will have fewer images to edit during post production. You’re also able to do some quick edits during your shoot, so your editing time is reduced significantly.
Depending on your editing software and camera, you’ll get the option of Live View. This is a helpful feature that allows you to see your scene come together in real time before you even start taking pictures.
Easy Client Feedback
Knowing how to shoot tethered will come in handy for certain types of clients. Some clients will want to be more hands on during the photo shoot to be sure the images align with their creative brief. Being able to shoot tethered will be a requirement so they can see the images as you go and provide feedback and approvals.
No SD Card Worries
When you shoot tethered, your computer collects and stores the images as you shoot on your computer. This means you don’t have to worry about your SD cards filling up or possibly failing during your shoot.
Adjust Your Camera From Your Computer
Tethering for food photography allows you to adjust your camera settings and shoot right from your computer. This is a really convenient feature when your camera is positioned in a way where it’s hard to see your settings, make adjustments or take a picture from your camera directly.
READ MORE ABOUT: WHAT’S IN MY CAMERA BAG
Equipment For Shooting Tethered
Setting up to shoot tethered is a breeze. It’s a couple of extra minutes of set up that will save you hours during your shoot and post production. You just want to be sure you get the right equipment. In order to shoot tethered you’ll need the following:
- TETHER CABLE
- EDITING SOFTWARE (LIGHTROOM OR CAPTURE ONE)
- UTILITY CART WITH WHEELS (OPTIONAL)
- CLAMPS (OPTIONAL)
Assuming you have a camera and a computer, let’s dive into the tether cable. A tether cable is what connects your camera to your computer. But, not all tether cables are created equal. You need to be sure that you get a tether cable that has the correct camera port on one end and the correct computer port on the other. You’ll also want to be sure you get a cable that is a decent length so you have some flexibility with your setup.
One way to figure out which tether cable you need is to ask Tether Tools.
- Go to tethertools.com
- Click Search By Camera.
- Enter your Camera Brand, Camera Model and Computer Port.
- Then, you’ll be directed to the exact cable you’ll need.
B&H Photo & Video
Another way to figure out which tether cable you need is to ask B&H in their live chat. This is such a great feature to use whenever you have technical questions about products relating to photography and video.
- Go to bhphotovideo.com
- Click Chat in the lower right corner.
- Click Product & Web Navigation.
- Select Technical Question.
- Enter your name, email and your specific question.
- Happy chatting!
The editing software I use for tethering varies between Lightroom and Capture One. They both are robust editing platforms that work really well for tethering photography.
Utility Cart with Wheels
A utility cart with wheels is optional, but I wanted to mention it, because it has been really convenient for me when I’m shooting tethered. I use a utility cart to hold my laptop. It sits at a decent height so I can stand and work at the computer comfortably. It also has a couple of shelves beneath it to keep additional tools nearby. The wheels allow me to move it around super easily too.
Clamps are optional, but I use them to help with cable management. I simply will clamp my tether cable along my light stands to avoid the cable from getting in the way of the photo shoot. Just be sure to get clamps that will fit the diameter of your light stands.
Troubleshooting Tethering Issues
Sometimes your camera and computer simply won’t connect, despite having the right cable and everything seeming to be “as it should be.” It can be really frustrating because food is so time sensitive and connection issues will hold up your photo shoot workflow.
Here are some quick and easy troubleshooting tips to try just in case you run into any issues with your tether cable not properly connecting your camera and computer.
- RESTART YOUR COMPUTER
- TURN YOUR CAMERA OFF AND BACK ON AGAIN
- CONNECT TO A DIFFERENT PORT ON YOUR COMPUTER
- TRY WITHOUT A MEMORY CARD IN YOUR CAMERA
- TRY WITH A NEWLY FORMATTED MEMORY CARD IN YOUR CAMERA
- TEST A DIFFERENT TETHER CABLE
I hope this post was helpful for you! If you are considering getting started with shooting tethered for your food photography, you definitely won’t regret it. Reach out with questions anytime!
READ MORE ABOUT: MY SIMPLE OVERHEAD SETUP FOR FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY
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All images ©Regan Baroni 2022.