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Auto Focus: Tethered Shooting in Lightroom


By Chris Malinao

With Lightroom, we can shoot with the camera connected to the computer, that’s called tethered shooting. As we shoot, our images go directly to the hard drive and they are seen big on the computer screen as they come in. That’s the convenience of tethered shooting, the images are seen right away on the big screen, and we can examine it minutely as we shoot. Compare this with seeing the images merely on the LCD at the back of the camera, and you can appreciate the value of shooting tethered.

Tethered shooting is best done in studio environment, and, under certain conditions, during location shoots, and because you can fully evaluate your photos as they come in, you can adjust as you go. Be sure to consult the Adobe website for a list of cameras supported for tethered shooting. It’s mostly for Canon and Nikon cameras at present, and three Leica models. If your camera is on the list, let’s proceed. Connect your camera to the computer via the USB port.

The convenience of tethered shooting in Lightroom is that you see your photos immediately on your big computer screen—straight out of the camera —allowing you to examine and adjust your shoot as you go. (Model: Maria Fey Borbon)

The convenience of tethered shooting in Lightroom is that you see your photos immediately on your big computer screen—straight out of the camera —allowing you to examine and adjust your shoot as you go. (Model: Maria Fey Borbon)

In Library or Develop module, go to File > Tethered Capture > Start Tethered Capture, and the dialog box for Tethered Capture Settings comes up. It has four sections: Session; Naming; Destination; and Information.

Session (1) is where you name the folder that will contain the captured photos. If you want to create subfolders for the session, put a check mark in the box for Segment Photos by Shots. You can name the subfolders after clicking the OK button below. Else, leave the box unchecked.

Naming (2) is where you choose how to name your files. For example, the option for Session Name— Sequence uses the name entered in Session, and you can specify what number to start with in the numerical sequence. There are other options.

Destination (3) is where you want the folder for the session to be located by clicking Choose. If there’s a previously named collection where you want the new photos to be, you can also put a check mark for the box next to the words Add to Collection, and the list of existing collection drops down in a menu, or alternatively, you can choose to Create Collection.

Information (4) is where you add metadata like your copyright details, and keywords to the imported photos.

And finally, click OK to start the tethered shooting session. Lightroom will identify your camera and the floating tethered capture bar appears. See that round button on the right? That’s a shutter button, and yes, you can trigger the shutter from there, just click it. Other things you see there are settings for ISO, shutter speed, and ISO>

As you shoot, the images go directly to your hard drive and not being stored in your camera’s memory card with Nikon cameras. With Canon brands, you have the option to also record the images in camera aside from bringing them directly to the hard drive. It’s not a preferential bias on the part of Adobe, it’s just how the camera makers set up their hardware and software.

The best part of tethered shooting is that you can also share this process via the iPad. You can set this up to share the shoot with a client or a friend while it is happening. This sharing with the iPad can be done in studio, or even when the iPad is somewhere else around the world, connected via Internet.

Chris Malinao teaches Lightroom as workflow software to photography students at the FPPF (Federation of Philippine Photographers Foundation), a nonprofit organization that offers year-round workshops in Basic Photography, Advanced Photography, Wedding Photography, Strobist Lighting, Food Photography, Photoshop, Lightroom, and other specialty photography workshops. For details, please visit

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