Tethering: Why It’s Important and Why You Should Do it


Lesson Info

Live Demo: Using the Tethering Station

This is our model, James. Everyone say hello to James. Hi, James. Just to kinda walk through what we got going on: James is an awesome looking dude and we're going to photograph him. We'll try to come up with some really dramatic portrait on this. I'm going to walk through a little bit about what we got going on here. All starting with this. I believe it's Savage Seamless? Yes. Just a seamless background. Black background, because I don't want any bounce or any blow-back from this white background or white wall. I've just flagged it off with black so that we avoid any reflections or any sort of blow-back. I've got this Oliphant canvas. It's a 5x4, which I've kind of rigged up on this. Well, John's rigged up on this arm here, and we're just gonna float that. As you can see, just floating on one C-stand, but this is gonna provide our background. I don't really need to see much of the edge, or do I really care about the edge, because I think it's kind of cool. It feels organic. It...

feels layered. I like it. We're using this Profoto D1? Yeah. Yeah, D1, with a 20.5 inch beauty dish. What we got going on here is we have a... sock. Yeah, a sock over the beauty dish, and then a grid over that. The sock actually softens the hardness and then the grid is going to control that direction of light. And then behind me, what we have is a 51 inch, I believe, Profoto White Umbrella, and it's reflective, so the light is actually going into the umbrella, bouncing back through this diffusion right here, and this is just acting as our fill. We got two lights set up. We got our beauty dish, which is gonna be a really nice strong, specular-style of lighting. Kind of hard, but will still be soft from this sock. And, of course, the diffusion in there, the bath, or the panel, in the beauty dish. And then we're just filling in some of these shadows, filling in the shadow density from this Profoto modifier here. I'll probably get this question, so I'm going to go ahead and address it: why I have the binder clips on this stuff. I have this just set up so where we can pop it and break it down. I have the binder clips because when you get these things in wind, this diffusion can just fly off and it's crazy, so I use the binder clips on every single sort of wrung. Yeah, there you go. Boom. This is what I travel with a lot. I just break this guy down and just pop it open, and you're ready to go. It's super easy, and it's one of the softest methods, softest modifiers. And the softest way to shape light, I've found, is these modifiers next to having a big Scrim set up and that gets crazy, though. That's basically a break down of what we've got going on here. I'm using a Canon 5D Mark IV, or, I'm sorry, a Mark III. Right here. And I'm using a 24-70 mm, f2.8 lens. We're just gonna... get into this here. (camera beeping) Perfect. Alright. Let me take this JerkStopper off because I don't really need that with this Tether Block. If I can. (clicking) Put this guy here. When I go into shooting, first I want to make sure that this Tether Table is, or this mobile cart, is somewhere where I can see it. I'm seeing the MacBook here. I'm seeing the laptop here. Let's see. Let me close this so this is mirrored. There we go. Okay. Well, we're just going to have to do it this way. Let's say I'm looking at the MacBook. Often times, I'll have this to where it's about right here. I don't really want the subject to see the images come up, either. That's important. I want them to trust me that we're getting good stuff, and I want to give positive reinforcement to the subject to make sure that they're feeling good, they're feeling light on their feet, feeling like they're rock stars. James is a rockstar. Archie is. And not be judging how they're looking when they're seeing these images pop through. What I'll often do is just turn this guy to swivel around like this so that my clients can essentially be standing here and they can collaborate with me as I stand in this zone, which will be about right here. Make sense? Okay. Let's see if we're all good to go here. And Kenna, just feed me questions as we do this. I like questions, so if you guys got questions while we do this, it can be on anything. Cool. We're going to have some fun here. Settings don't really matter. I don't really care about settings. I just kind of shoot and do what feels good. I kind of approach lighting that same way. It's more of an expression than it is technical. I want this light to be fairly close to him because the closer that light is to the subject, the softer it will be. I know that. Just like the sun. The sun is ninety-three million miles away. That's why it's so hard on a sunny day. It's very tax and has very strong shadows. I know I want this light to be very close to him, and this guy over here just provides a way to just fill in these shadows again. Alright James, let me have you turn a little bit this way. And the reason why I want to turn him this way is because I want to accentuate this jaw line he's got going on here. James is killing it. Rocking the jaw line. There we go. Thanks, John. See, that would be something that a stylist would do: wardrobe. John here is playing multiple jobs. (chuckles softly) Turn a little bit more, James. There you go. I want you to kind of get in this character and kind of feel it out that it's cold. Imagine London street. Give me something. Give me a little strength there with the eyebrows. You can pinch the eyebrows together a little bit, but not too much. Let's find a medium world, okay? There you go. That's pretty good. Let's take a little shot and see what that looks like. (clears throat loudly) I tend to stick around 50mm focal length for portraits. I feel like that's the focal length that's the most truest to the human eye. I like to shoot also at depths of field, or apertures that are closer to what the human eye sees. That's around f/5.6 to f/8. I really don't ever shoot wide-open, ever, just because I want more of a photograph that looks closer to something that what a human eye would see, and not so digital. Let's see what we got going on here. Scoot a little bit over this way. Just move a hair. I know you're gonna get off your mark a little bit, but just take a step that way. There you go. Now, turn. Perfect. Okay. Let's drop this hand. There you go. (camera shutter clicking) Let's see what we got going on here. Cool. Looks pretty good. I think that I want to... scoot you back a hair. There you go. Stay turned this way. Yeah. Position your feet a little bit towards this way. Yeah. Okay. We're gonna take this fill down because I want less fill. I want a little bit more of a dramatic image here, and I haven't even done a grading yet, so these are just test shots. This is just stuff for testing out here. (camera shutter clicking) Great. Yeah. That's looking pretty dramatic. I like it. There's enough. The background isn't too distracting. This background tends to be pretty distracting because it's so much going on. There's a lot of texture and there's a lot of... It's beautiful, but I like it when it looks something similar to this. I'm gonna kind of go ahead and throw a grade. Let me take one more shot actually. I want to get in between. Let me bring up this density a little bit more. f/5.5. Half-stop up. (camera shutter clicking) Good. Chin around this way. Yeah, there you go. (camera shutter clicking) Perfect. Once I've got a pretty good shot, James, you can just hang for a minute. Once I got a shot, and this is usually, we do this without the actual subject. We're pre-lighting. We're pre-staging. We're going through all of this scenario beforehand, before James would even step on-set. It's important that we go through all of these steps so that when my client steps on-set, the subject steps on-set, it's all ready to go. There's not really anything that I have to worry about. It's a very seamless operation. It's a very efficient operation.

Tethering; it has a stigma of being arduous, annoying and inconvenient. When photographers think of the process, it’s usually followed with a big “sigh” or overbearing anxiety. Yet, most professional photographers can be seen day-in and day-out attached to a laptop or workstation. The world is moving more quickly every day which is decreasing the amount of time photographers have to deliver the final product. The tethering process is a crucial attribute to maintain efficiency and provide a head start on making the impossible deadline, possible. In this exclusive course, editorial and advertising photographer Clay Cook will show why tethering is critical for the modern day clientele and how to successfully and seamlessly implement it into your workflow.



  • I have been wanting to add tethering to my workflow for quite sometime, but it seemed so daunting and expensive. Clay Cook walks you through every tiny detail and tool, in a buildable, step-by-step process. And as an added bonus, watching him shoot with a model was really cool and informative. He brings an inspiring energy with him as an instructor who has worn many hats in the creative industry. I highly recommend this course!