This article was written by Kevin Ames for the Better When You Tether series of articles by professional photographers who experience the benefits of shooting tethered in various shooting environments.
My Tethered Life
My tethered life began at the beginning of digital capture with a Dicomed scanning back. It looked like a Polaroid back with a heavy cable connected to a computer. My next camera was a Leaf DCB2. It too, was tethered. Why? Because both required a computer to produce and store a photograph. By 1999, the camera and computer married in the form of the Foveon studio camera. It was a laptop with a lens. Tethering was combined. Shortly after that higher megapixel (six at the time) DSLR cameras came on the scene. A lot of photographers thought they had finally been freed from the cable tethered to the computer. It was only after downloading their photographs did they realize that the image on their large monitor wasn’t nearly as good camera’s screen led them to believe. Thus began the great, unfortunate migration from tethering to chimping.
My happy place has never been an intimate relationship with that three inch monitor. Light is my brush. I am very particular with the way I wield that photonic paint. Tethering shows me the strokes at an actual 100% pixel view.
I know, I know. Tethering is a pain the a$$. I work deliberately. Making high quality photographs is a conscious, careful process no matter how spontaneous it appears when watching a pro work. Tethering just makes it easier. Easier to see the light, easier to check focus and easier for a client to know that you have captured exactly the photograph they are paying for.
When to tether…
I always tether when I’m working in my studio. There, I use a dedicated MacPro on a rolling Anthrocart.
I always tether when shooting building portraits and interiors into my MacBook Pro with an external hard drive. In both instances I also capture on a Hoodman RAW STEEL compact flash memory card. Having a backup made concurrently when shooting is great peace of mind. Murphy loves a photo shoot. There are lots of things that can go wrong. Losing files just isn’t allowed.
There are times I don’t tether. On long walks, shooting concerts and touristy things. The habits that tethered feedback has provided over the last decade and half have found their way into my not tethered shooting. Do I want freedom from the camera—computer connection? No way! I remember my first digital client back in the mid nineties asking while looking at the twenty inch CRT color monitor “When can I see the final photograph?” I smiled, pointing to the screen and replied “You’re looking at it right now.” That’s when my love affair with tethering turned into a lasting relationship.
I just wish I could have tethered my 4 by 5 view camera instead of shooting Polariods then having to explain the art director “the real film won’t look like that.”
About Kevin Ames
Photography is life. Kevin Ames is living it to the fullest. His career encompasses commercial photography, authoring books on Photoshop, Lightroom, as well as on photographing women, two magazine columns (Digital Photographer’s Notebook) in Photoshop User, (Lighting Photographer’s Handbook) in Light It! and speaking engagements in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Asia at Photoshop World, WPPI and Photo Plus Expo.
Through it all he maintains his studio in Atlanta, Georgia working with clients including A.T.&T., Westin Hotels and Honda Power Equipment. His work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Time, Atlanta Sports and Fitness and exhibited at Atlanta’s High Museum of Art and on corporate websites, brochures and catalogs. Kevin is a Sigma Pro and Dynalite VIP.