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Ready, Preset, Go! Tether with Lightroom for Streamlined Product Photography


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Time is money. Don’t wait until after the shoot to see exactly what your product images will look like. Tether your camera straight to your computer and set it to perform adjustments as you shoot, allowing you to see the final image instantly. No reshoots. No hassle. Isn’t efficiency wonderful?

One of the best programs to use for tethering is Adobe Lightroom, an organizing, enhancing, and sharing application. Adobe has shifted a lot of their software to the cloud, which works out quite well for the budget conscious photographer. The Adobe Creative Cloud Photography package includes both Photoshop and Lightroom for a monthly cost of only $9.99 USD. Both programs are essential for product photography, and a 30 day trial lets you determine if it’s the best package for you.

Let us show you how to tether your camera and computer using Lightroom, creating a simple yet hyper-efficient workflow. We’ll be using the following tools.

Camera –Canon 7D

Computer –Mac Powerbook laptop

Lightroom –Adobe Creative Cloud

USB cord –standard cable, came with the camera

Most modern cameras and computers will work equally well, and there are other programs available. We’ve found Lightroom to be a user friendly and cost-effective solution.

Step 1: Connect Your Camera & Computer

Let’s start with an easy one: connect your USB cord to both your computer and camera.

Now create a new Lightroom catalog for your new images. Open Lightroom and go to “File > New Catalog.” Name the new catalog something that relates to your image set, like the date or product number.

  (drop down file>new catalog)                                 (naming your new catalog)

(drop down file>new catalog)

(naming your new catalog)

Click “Create” and a new Lightroom window will open. This is where you will work.

(new catalog Lightroom launch window)

(new catalog Lightroom launch window)

Step 2: Tether through Lightroom

After you are connected by USB and your new Lightroom window is open, it’s time to tether. Select “File > Tethered Capture > Start Tethered Capture” from the Lightroom dropdown menu. This will open a small window where you will select your settings and determine where your images will be saved.

Save yourself future headaches and use a naming scheme that aligns with the product you’re shooting. It’s also beneficial to indicate the file type, which is RAW since it’s straight from the camera. For example, you might have the following directory structure: “2015-SEP-20 > RAW Fall 2015 Shoes.”

File > Tethered Capture > Start Tethered Capture

File > Tethered Capture > Start Tethered Capture

Tethered capture settings

Tethered capture settings

Step 3: Shoot

A capture strip will pop up in your new catalog library window after you have saved your settings. This is where you will see your camera connected and all of the camera’s current settings. Make sure settings like ISO, Aperture, and Shutter Speed are all adjusted according to your needs. Once they are all good to go, snap your first photo – which you can do straight from the computer, avoiding camera shake – and watch it appear on your computer screen.

Snap your first image and see it appear on your computer screen

Snap your first image and see it appear on your computer screen

Step 4: Create a Preset

If you’re following best practices and using the exact same studio setup for each shot, you should create a “Preset.” Presets allow you to save a set of adjustments and have it applied to each image as it’s captured. This both saves you time in post-production and allows you to see the adjusted image in real time.

After you take your first photograph, start making adjustments to your image using the “Develop” tab. If your studio is lit correctly, you shouldn’t have to make too many adjustments. Try working with the exposure, highlights, shadows, contrast, saturation, and white balance to see if they can add pop to your image.

When you have finalized your adjustments, look for the “Presets” dropdown on the left hand side of your lightroom tethering window. If you click the “+” plus sign on the upper right corner, a “New Develop Preset” window will open. Make sure all the adjustments you made are accurately checked and click “Create.”

Make adjustments to your first image

Create new preset                                               New Develop Preset window

Create new preset

New Develop Preset window

To use your newly created preset, you must assign it in the capture window. From the “Develop” tab, click the big button and select your preset from the dropdown menu. It will now be applied to all images you capture moving forward, allowing you to see edited images nearly instantly and avoid reshoots!

Set your capture strip to have a preset for all images taken in your session

Set your capture strip to have a preset for all images taken in your session

All set to move forward!

All set to move forward!

You can use the same preset throughout this shoot, and even future shoots in the same location. If you shoot at a different location in the future, or if conditions change at your current studio, create a new preset.

Step 5: Export Selects

This is a fun part: sort through your library of beautiful images and pick your favourites. It’s time to export your selects for use on your eCommerce site, or for more post-production processing.

Select your images

Select your images.

Pick the photos you intend to use on your site. If you have a lot of images, tag your favorites using ratings stars, flags, or color labels and then filter your view to only show your selects. Select all of them.

Open the Export window

Open the Export window

Open the export dialog by clicking the “Export” button or choosing “File > Export > Export…” and a pop up box will open.

Export window

Export window

Select “Hard Drive” at the top of the pop up box. Now it’s time to pick a location and file type to export.

If you’re going to be performing more post-production processing, export in a high resolution file type like TIFF. If you’re going straight to the web, export in a lower resolution file type like JPEG. Save your files in a new folder in the same parent directory you’ve been using with a name that reflects the file type, like “2015-SEP-20 > High Res TIFF Fall 2015 Shoes.”

When you’re done exporting, save all your settings and presets so you can use them again next time.

Save time. Tether using Lightroom and perform adjustments as you shoot.
Go to the next level

Lightroom allows you to perform lots of useful adjustments through presets, bulk actions, and individual image editing, but the highest quality product images need more attention. If you would like your images to have shadows, no background, or advanced features like an invisible mannequin effect, time must be spent in post-production processing.

You can do it yourself in Photoshop, but you may find it easier to integrate a professional image editing service into your workflow. Pixelz allows you to create custom order specifications and have your entire order returned in 24 hours or less. Easy quality control makes sure your standards are met every time. It’s a simple, cost effective, and scalable way to build out your production workflow. Take a free trial today!