Live Demo: The Tethering Shoot
What I tend to do is; I'll just go ahead and just boost some contrast here and this is subjective. I mean, color grading and this sort of creative realm is completely subjective. You can go as stylistically rich as you want or you could leave it raw like this. It's up to you. I like to give a sort of a clear vision of how the final product will be so this is sort of the color grading process and it's pretty simple. It's nothing complex whatsoever. I'm gonna de-saturate this pretty dramatically. Up there, negative 15 on the saturation. Bring in a little shadows there. Let's produce some of those blacks. I'm gonna punch this clarity up pretty strong and this clarity if you crank the clarity in Capture One on this background, it looks really good. It brings out a lot of that texture but you don't wanna go overboard because then it looks really over-processed. It can get really wrong. All right, so we got 25 on clarity and then structure about and we'll do this like a classic and let's se...
e what punch looks like. Looks pretty good. We'll keep it natural though and usually again, I'm doing this all before anybody walks on set so I'm flushing out all these details. Once you get to a curves, the curves pallet here the curves tool, adjustment tool, what I tend to do is; this is adding the contrast to color so I'm gonna de-saturate the reds. Take out some of this reds and then I'm going to bring some magentas back in, add some green in the highlights here, add a little bit of warmth there, bring this up to add blue in the highlights. So you kind of see the difference there. That was before the contrast and then after the contrast. That made a huge difference. Next what I tend to do is I'll go over here to color balance and I'll just play with this white balance a little bit. Let's see what kind of looks cool. I kind of like warm. This is such a dark like bluish concrete background that can get really... Can look really awesome when it's warm too. There we go. So the color balance, I'll kind of go over here to the three-way color balance tool. I'll add some blue in the shadows. You can never go wrong with some blues in the shadows. I'll add some mid-tones. This might be too much but we'll see. Let's see about highlights here. It's good to wear, looks pretty nice. Here we go. That's looking pretty good so I'll show you a little before and after what I just did so that's raw and that's graded. This is not final either. This is just simply a live preview for your client but it can really make all the difference. I mean, of how they perceive what you're shooting. If it looks like they have like a really awesome graded image right out of the camera, they're like, "Whoa!" It can really play an impact, play a role into what they think. I could play with this all day, probably. (chuckles)
So Clay, once you've done that are you able to automatically set that color grading for the rest of the shoot? Is that the process?
Yeah. The benefit of using software such as Capture One, I believe Adobe Lightroom does as well is that, from now on, once I apply this color grade to this image, every image I shoot from here on out will have the same color grade on applied automatically. Now of course, you can turn that off if you would like but I don't want that. I want this color grade to be applied on every single image moving forward because it's just gonna look better for your client, of course. And you can also set up presets. You can set up presets under Capture One here. So you can apply it manually if you like and I do that often. Once I've kind of color-balanced and I might change this, who knows? I think that it looks pretty good though. I do apply grain so I'll go in here and apply a fine grain because I think that grain can add a lot of this organic mood, sort of like a film look to your images even if I'm shooting high ISO, I like to bring out some more grain into it and then sharpening, keep that at a decent level there. I think we're about there. I'm gonna shoot a little bit more here. I think the only thing is that we might be a little overexposed so I'm just gonna knock back, knock back the ISO a little bit. All right James, let's see what we got going on now. (camera beeps) So I like this pose but I want you to kind of glance over here. Yeah, there you go. Very cool. So let's ditch this hand now. Let's turn a little bit more this way, sorry. Yeah, there you go because I wanna see the jawline and just look pretty much right at me here. (camera beeps) There you go, chin down a little bit. Good, what I was seeing there was his jaw up like that. I think if his jaw was down, it would kind of accentuate that jawline a little bit more; make it a little bit more of a moody photograph because that's kind of what we're going for here. This might actually look really good in black and white too. I'm just gonna see if we look like in black and white. It does look really strong in black and white. Cool. Let's shoot some more in black and white and then see where that's going. I like you actually, step a little bit this way, back a little bit this way and look down like that. I like how you're doing that. Yeah, tilt your head towards the background a little bit. Yeah, there you go. (camera clicks) Awesome. I like you looking that, we're just gonna roll with this. You know what your doing. Do that whole thing; that whole motion of where you're looking down and then glancing this way. So we're just gonna run this and go for it. (camera clicks) Nice. That was a good run. I do runs like that where I work with people and kind of lock it in. At this point what I would do is I'd probably I tend to shoot, I would say about I don't know 10 to 15 frames and then what I'd do is go assess the imagery with the creative team so I'll be like, for example someone standing there and I'll be talking to them, running through the imagery and talking with them about what we like, what we don't like, what could be changed. Like that's a cool shot. What could be changed, what can we do better and we'll just review the last like five to 10 images that we just shot through and you're gonna get a lot more accurate results that way rather than just kind of spring as much as possible. You get a lot more accurate results with styling, the hair, the makeup, of a creative direction in general. We'll keep moving along. I think what I wanna do though is; let's have you... Let's grab a stool see what, let's have James sitting.
Just a quick question for you. When you're shooting and you have this whole group of team there; that's the client or directors and everyone, how much interaction are they having while you're shooting? Are you taking direction from them with regard to posing and such and lighting or does the fact that you have this monitor actually allow that like buffer where they're just focused on that thing, the result.
That's a good question, so I make sure... They kind of let me work for while. For the most part of my experience, every so often we'll have clients that kind of, "This, this, this," will kind of interrupt in between but most like, I make sure to have that clear time after every few shots to speak with them or bounce back to say, "How're we looking? "Looking good?" and that gives them or I'll just like engage them and that gives them the opportunity like, "Can I step in for a moment? "I just wanna change the hair." Or, "Can I step in for a minute? "I just wanna change something or alter something." Having those little periods of time to assess what's going on is really helpful and of course, to shoot less. That's a great question.
And just to follow up on that, does that affect the models or the subjects or what have you that it kind of might, they have to pose while these other things are going on. Does affect the mood and the flow?
It can. Now with models, they're paid to be there. They're models; I think it's a little different for models but yeah, for people, I don't wanna break up that connection that I have so it's gotta be something that's very quick and efficient and you wanna trust your team like I trust my team and the creative team I'm working with just as much as anybody else. They're creative professionals. It's their job so I wanna make sure that I'm not losing the connection I have with the subject at the same time they're doing their job; everybody is just doing their job and the system allows them to do their job better or efficiently because they have this viewing platform. It's a really helpful tool. The last thing I want is to sort of break that connection by like analyzing shots. Now at fashion work I will do that because there are so many variables that go into fashion and a campaign and advertising and stuff like that but when I'm shooting a portrait or I'm shooting editorial work then with the connections more important to me than what I'm seeing over here. It's more about the subject matter than anything else. It's more about emotion and mood and feeling more than technical like lighting and everything else.
We'll have James sit here and I'm gonna move this guy around a little bit. Can everybody see what's going on? Cool. All right James, so let me have you skewed in that chair a little bit this way. There you go. Have one foot up there, that's nice. Turn a little bit this way again. Bring up that jawline. All right, cool. Let's bring this leg, yep. What I'm doing here is I'm trying to create lines with his body. I see sort of lines. I see this diagonal line here, this vertical line here. He's sitting straight up so we got a nice line there. His jawline, it's all diagonal. Everything plays in a symmetry. I'm a huge symmetry guy. Everything that I see is lines, lines, lines and if you don't know much about lines, lines are very powerful in posing and in photography so just a quick little blurb on lines is horizontal lines sort of give the viewer ease, a sense of calm. Vertical lines give sense of strength and power. That's why you see a lot of vertical lines in fashion work and then that's why landscape photography is so calming it's because it's mostly consist of horizontal lines. Vertical lines, a lot in fashion. Diagonal lines give a sense of impact and chaos so you also see that in fashion work; a lot of diagonal lines across the frame and of course, leading lines which leads the eye. So I'm seeing that like kind of everywhere as I'm analyzing where James is posing and where his feet are, where his face is and where his body is and whatnot. So we're gonna kind of frame this the best. Why don't you just kind of relax your back a little bit. Just slump forward. There you go, cool and then rotate your head this way, yeah. Nice, I want you to just glance your eyes right here. Not your chin, just your eyes. There you go. (camera clicks) Perfect. it's cool. Let's bring it back to that grade, the color grade. What I can do is if you're stuck on this black and white, you can just go back to a color image and right-click and go copy adjustments and that's gonna copy all the adjustments that you did and when I paste it on this and then I think we have to remove the black and white and then I'm gonna go back to color balance and just click off black and white. The biggest thing I see here is that there is a lot of darkness down here, still easier to see on that monitor but what I can do is John, let's just bring this guard back or down a little bit so it's more behind me rather than coming from so high up. Awesome. Let's go a little lower than that. Perfect. A little bit more on the tethering process; you can also run backups while you're doing this so that's what this little hard drive base because you can... It's great. All these images are going straight to my computer and then I can set up a system to automatically back up all these images that are running to my computer because with hard drives, it's not really if. It's when. I've had in my career like probably 10 hard drive failures so it's important that backup is a huge thing for me so I make sure to backup all these images while I'm shooting them. I mean you can set that up through Capture and set it up through your laptop. I'm not actually writing any images to my card. That's something to keep in mind unless there's like a misfire or something happens in the connection so all the images are going straight to my laptop. So this is another reason why I want to be able to see this MacBook, see this laptop just because I cannot see anything on the back of my screen but it's also great because you don't chimp as much. Has everyone heard of chipping? Where you're like. It's bad news so I don't have any images on the back of my screen. I might as well goof this off but I can see all the images on my laptop which is actually a better representation of your imagery anyway so you can really see everything nice, big and bold. So let's see what that field did. I liked that. I dig that. That's cool. I'll tell you what. Why don't you scoot the back so you can have a handle on that stool a little bit between your legs. There you go. Perfect. Turn a little bit this way. Cool. (camera beeps) So I'm going for a little bit more of a full body more like portrait here. I don't think we're quite getting it the feel so I'm gonna bring this up stop and you can see here I'm getting the edge of the background. I think that's kind of cool. I like it; it gives a little bit more depth, a little bit more layer. It's kind of one of these things that a lot of photographers do and I like it because it also provides that sort of like behind-the-scenes effect to things. There's a lot of photographers that have made this sort of style, this layering style world-famous and one technique is the mentality that it gives that behind-the-scenes flare and sort of gives these subjects that are larger than life a grounding value to them and the picture is a little bit more grounding because of the fact that they're in a photography... They're being photographed rather than this larger than life perfect photo so that's kind of the theory behind it. All right. Yeah, it's cool. Let's see here. Nice; that did brighten it up a lot. Cool; I think that's a little much so we're gonna bring this down, half stop. What I want you to do is; if I start seeing a subject that's like getting pretty static and they're like feeling uncomfortable what I like to do is I have them stand up and I have them sit back down especially with males because the more natural males are then the more it will look better and feel a little bit more natural so James why don't you just stand up. Cool and I want you to sit down and then just do whatever you feel is comfortable so something different than the hand there though, yeah. Perfect. (camera beeps) Yeah I like that. Let's go with the chin this way, the chin down a little bit. There you go. (camera clicks) Awesome. That screens. Yes.
Question for you. So you just had him stand up and down and this question is from Jennifer. Is there ever a time that you would show the monitor to the model, say if they weren't hitting the mark to kind of point out directionally on the image what you wanted them to change or would that not be something you would do?
It depends. If I'm dealing with the same everyday subject, then I want more of that trust and that connection to be built. I don't wanna have to rely on what I'm shooting to critique them I guess. I don't want it to feel like critique. I understand providing them a little bit of a preview will make things better I guess and have them understand what they're doing. It depends, I think, on a person. Are they gonna be able to handle seeing themselves because I don't wanna have them see it and then suddenly we lose that connection, we lose that positive reinforcement that I built and that sense of strength that I've tried to build. I build them up and I don't want them to lose that by seeing themselves which can go... We're photographers; we really don't like being in front of the camera too much so it can go wrong but if I'm working with models, absolutely. I'll bring a model over and I'll say, "Hey, "this is what's going on. "I think we can improve this pose." Especially when I'm working with female subjects and especially if they're new to modeling then I'll try to help them to make them improve on the next set or the next photograph, so yeah. All right. I'm liking the direction of this. I think that I want to get a little bit more just like flanking just like cruising, you're just chilling. There you go, perfect. (camera beeps) All right so chin this way. There you go and then just glance at me. (camera clicks) Perfect. (camera clicks) Good. I like that. So let's scoot back in the chair a little bit. It's very dramatic. I never wanted like feel static too when shooting models and shooting, I think that like I see a lot of photographers who tend to be lazy with their composition. I mean it happens all the time or they'll just stay like this, beep, beep, beep. You wanna get on the ground. You wanna get dirty. You wanna do everything you can to try to find unique compositions. Don't afraid to get dirty when you're shooting. I dig this. Let's move around, let's have both feet on this. Yeah, there you go and then lean in to that, hardcore. There you go unless you're gonna. You stand back? (laughs) (camera beeps) Good. (camera clicks) (camera beeps) Excellent. I like that. (camera clicks) The stare down. Because he did, he's now sitting, I need to move this light a little bit. John, let's shift this to where it's falling about right there. A little bit closer. That's cool. You got a little baby pin going on in there. All right let's try this.
I guess it's something that you were born to.
(laughs) Yeah. (camera beeps and clicks) Tilt the head this way, yeah. There you go. Awesome. Cool. I kind of give you... That's what it is, raw and then graded. That's cool. I'm gonna move this back a little bit. (beep) Awesome. Let's keep rolling. Always diving between lights and stuff. Let's move horizontally. (camera clicks) Nice. (camera clicks) I wanna try to stay in a 50 millimeter focal length. I can usually tell when an image will be too distorted and doesn't look... It looks way too crazy and I can usually tell when things are too compressed. With what I'm seeing in my viewfinder, I can usually tell the focal length and just 50 millimeters seems to be usually about right unless I'm shooting like a wide horizontal frame then I tend to stick to under 50; between like 40 millimeters so usually that range of where I like to tend to be is 40 to 50 millimeters and you might be asking, "Whoa, why don't you use a prime lens?" I just like having that versatility of having that option in case I want it, in case I want that focal length to change. Let's just keep moving here. (camera clicks) It's nice emotion there. (camera clicks) Perfect. Give me a little bit of a stronger expression there James. There you go, you got it; getting yourself into character. Real strong, nice. (camera clicks) Perfect. (camera clicks) I like that; you're looking right here. (camera clicks) Good. Cool, that was a good run. Real good run. This is the point where I'd be like, let's review through these images and see if we got anything. That's a strong shot; real dramatic. That's really good. Cool. I like that. Another benefit of Capture One is that I can actually flag on sight. A lot of times what we'll do is we'll go through just like I'm doing right now, take a pause, take a break, work with the client and we'll go through and make our selections. That avoids the time that it requires in post to make proofing galleries or removes the client review from an estimate, if you will because you can do it on sight, you can do it live. I'll have clients do that a lot. I'm like, "Hey, just go through. "Make your best picks," and then that will be sort of the selections that I give them to make a final edit. Turn this way just like how were. I like you leaning into this. There you go so I'm gonna get a couple just overhead. (camera clicks) There you go, very nice. (camera clicks) Glance right here. Yeah, right here with your eyes. Perfect, chin up a little bit. Great. (camera clicks) Awesome. Cool dude. Rock and roll. All right; so Q and A. We're gonna get into that.
All right. Fantastic. Thank you so much. We do have a couple of little minor about tethering. Conversation going on about USB 2 versus USB 3; which is faster? Are some of these things only compatible with USB or 3 and can you talk to that?
All the new cameras are all USB 3. All the medium format cameras I use are USB 3. The Mac 3 is USB 2 so I think everything going forward is been USB 3. USB 3 is obviously faster but you can see the speed that these are popping up; I mean it's not... And these are raw sot the problem with a lot of wireless tethering that I used to do like CamRanger, camera, all the iPad stuff is that I had to actually preview the JPEGs because raws took way too long to transfer wirelessly so that's why I eventually, that's a big reason why I eventually had to go to a wired situation just because the wireless solution, it would take too long and then I would transfer JPEGs and then on top of that, you couldn't edit the JPEGs, you couldn't provide a clear vision, you couldn't color grade anything so this is the biggest benefit of going to a wired solution such as this.
Got one here, great.
This might not make much sense for what you do with your business but I do tethering because I do macro in really small stuff and I have CamRanger and I was thinking of transitioning because I also have Capture One but I don't tether with it yet. Can I do preview instead of just the still shot so I can see what I'm doing?
Yeah so you can actually control the camera right here so it has nothing to focus on but this whole section; so you can actually change the camera setting, you can change shutter speed, aperture, like all the stuff, so all those options that you have with CamRanger are available in Capture One so you can actually do that. That's cool, macro photography. That's next-level, gosh that's cool. All right.
And we have class on macro-photography here as part of photo week two. (laughs) Can you talk a little bit about your workflow, say this is a scenario and now we've done the shoot, what happens next with regard to are you finishing your work, taking that work after you've tethered it with images going onto that hard drive, going and working on a desktop computer or what's the workflow from here on out?
What I do and there's a different approaches and everybody has their own workflow, obviously but what I do is I take these images, I drop them onto a server that I have, I re-import them into my workstation in my office in my studio and then go through and that's when I provide proofing to my client. Now, if they've already selected, those are the only images that I pull into Capture, I guess and then that's what is exported for a client preview or a client review in which they make the final selections. Basically, they go from this laptop to my server, they go to server into my workstation and then from my workstation out and that's kind of how it works. So this is just sort of a more on-location, on-set device. You could just use your workstation. The problem is my workstation is like a massive three monitor, like it would take this whole table up so I can't really cut that around as easily as I can cut around a laptop with just one monitor.
I know you've talked about battery packs out in the field and what have you but based on what we're looking at here, what is the difference of what you would have like a paired-down version if you were out in the field versus in studio?
Basically, take this monitor away and add some sort of sun-shield to this and that's it. Of course, I take away this arm here and I pop this onto top of a C Stand or on top of a tripod. I think the tripods are a little easier because they're less weight. I use carbon-fiber tripods so when we're on location that's basically what I do, is that or I have like a tether cart. I have like some sort of innovative cart or rock and roller multi-cart that I put my laptop on and a sun-shield over and that is also another way but mostly what I do on-location is the same system just I strip away the monitor and then put this tether table on top of a C Stand or tripod. Now, that is of course, negating the whole client having me look at this and them looking at this but you're also in the middle of the woods or middle of nowhere a lot so that... It's a balance.
Does weather come into that?
I have a really awesome picture. Hold on, I'll tell what I'll just bring it up real quick because it's on my desktop and here we go. So, we bring umbrellas. This is like a tether-cart example just for using some sort of cart on-location. We've got the sun-shield and we just rig up umbrellas overhead or we use these big, giant 12 bars or whatever and this is my team, this is my staff; Turner, Chelsea, Amy, Luis, me. So we rig umbrellas a lot if we need to. So we shoot in the rain all the time. I actually shoot in the rain a lot. That doesn't stop the production. You just have to problem-solve and figure out solutions to make it work.
Way to have that photo right on your desktop Clay. (all laugh)
I was gonna post that to social media like a couple of days ago, I forgot to.
It's a good one. It's great. Did you talk to the difference between using different software programs for tethering; there's Capture One, there's Lightroom. Are there any differences?
Yeah. I've used both. I actually first started in Adobe Lightroom and I found Lightroom to be a little bit slower, a little bit more crankier with tethering system for raw processing and whatnot so when I got on with Capture and started using Capture it just totally changed the game. I think that it has a better range of color. I think it sees color better. I think that there is just a lot of advantages to using Capture One over Adobe Lightroom. If I was handling mass amount of images like a lot of images such as weddings and things like that there's a lot of great uses for Adobe Lightroom but for me, when I'm dealing with a smaller batch of images and more of a exacting process, I guess the Capture One is just great software. It's very fast, very fast. The fastest software I've seen for tethering.
Do you have any of your biggest tethering mistakes that people make, that you've made or that people make when they're first getting started tethering?
Yes. The biggest thing is making sure that all of this stuff is managed and organized because this is a lot going on. It can be a lot going on if it's not managed this way. So if you have cables everywhere and you have just things like phone out, I mean you got lights, you got cables from these lights and it can be really crazy if you don't properly manage the cables, goof down anything that's running so it's one of the biggest mistakes I made originally, just having that stuff fly everywhere so it's important to me; make sure you have a system that's secure and safe, that's a big one. Also tethering, oh gosh. The high visibility orange is a big one; making sure that this cable you can see. That's a big step. Also when you're tethering make sure that your do not disturb is on because (laughs) you can get text messages, you get emails bouncing, pinging up all the time so your clients can see that so you wanna make sure that you have all that stuff turned off because that's happened to me before so... But yeah, tethering is a great resource when you're dealing on this productions and it's obviously required. It's definitely in the agreements that we have with a lot of my high-caliber clientele that they have to have a live preview of the imagery somehow and it's become a very important asset to me and my business for all the reasons that we talked about earlier; from perception to slowing down to evaluating composition in photography itself and then collaborating with the team and there's so many more benefits that I could go into but that will be a whole another course but it's a great resource and this is basically it. This is the mobile workstation that I work in in the studio and of course, you saw the stuff that I use on-location whether that's a tether-cart or that's a tripod system but it goes a long with a client. It goes a long way when they can see that live preview of images and that's the biggest reason why I tether more than anything else. It's the collaboration aspect.
Well Clay thank you so much. Remind us again; where can everyone follow you, continue to connect with you, all that good stuff?
So social media, I love social media. You can follow me at Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, at CLAYCOOKPHOTO. Facebook CLAYCOOKPHOTO. My blog; CLAY-COOK.COM and my website; claycookphoto.com and on the last class I gave my email and I'll do that again. If you have any questions, I'm happy to answer them. I answer everyone, I always respond and it's firstname.lastname@example.org just email me. Shoot me an email if you ever got questions and wanna learn something or just chat, happy to talk. I love talking to other photographers, empowering other photographers so thank you for having me. I really appreciate you guys.