Given the wireless mobile world we live in, it was a little anachronistic, but I had my first tethered shoot two nights ago and I think I like it. Last night I did a few more pieces and I’m liking it even more.
I’ve never been much into laptops, they’ve always seemed underwhelming in the extreme. When you’re used to multiple mirrored drives, two 19-inch monitors, and a couple of gigs of RAM, the average laptop is sort of like the average dancing bear: It’s impressive that the bear dances, but you don’t focus on how well he dances. The same goes for the laptop: Yes, you can wander around with it easily, but it just doesn’t do what a real computer does. However, I had a couple of offsite shoots this past year and having a laptop to run LightRoom and unload images from the CompactFlash cards was a real help.
Well, it turns out that my camera has a FireWire port on it. A year after I bought it, it finally filtered into my stubborn brain that I could get a FireWire card for the laptop and give it a try. I’d had a tethered camera once before, but could never get it to work. The workflow was intriguing anyway.
My normal digital workflow is just like my argentic workflow, only moreso. Shooting sheet film is a whole different game, but in 35mm I get good shots by burning through a whole lot of film. Bracket like crazy. If in doubt, refocus and shoot all the brackets again. Was it lined up perfectly? If in doubt, get out the tape and measure everything, then shoot all the brackets again. A roll of Astia costs me $5.00 at Adorama, the chemistry and slide mounts each add about a buck, so one exposed frame costs about twenty cents out of pocket. Therefore, if in doubt, shoot it again. With digital, it’s even cheaper.
Shooting tethered is different. To start with, although the camera had sprouted a couple of new cables, I didn’t bother to connect the remote shutter release. (In addition to the FireWire cable, I figured I might as well use the AC power adapter and not worry about the battery.) A lot of it was just like any other shoot. The old reliable Bogen/Manfrotto 3021 tripod with 3047 head held the camera. The MicroNikkor 60mm/f2.8 was mounted. I had the Vivitar 285HV setup to bounce off a grey card, both for a little front light to pick up highlights and to trigger the strobes. But once I had the shot framed, I stepped back to the laptop and clicked on Take Picture. Too light? Okay, step back to the camera and close the lens a notch or two and try it again. Still getting a nasty reflection off that shiny part? Slap on a polarizer, open up a stop, and shoot it again. If there’s anything less than ideal, fix it and shoot again. When you get to the point where you can’t see anything else to change, and only then, hit the Save button. Then move the tripod in for a closeup or two. Those are probably perfect, given that the exposure is all set by then, but you don’t hit the Save button until you’re satisfied.
Sorry, no images from the shoot yet, I haven’t run a network cable down to the studio and my laptop only has one PC-CARD slot, so I can’t run FireWire and WiFi at the same time. But with over 20 pieces to shoot this week, I’m discovering that being tied down is not necessarily a disadvantage.