Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Greetings, volks. Welcome to Hohenfels Volks, THE place for our place! Old Man Winter is settling in for his long stay here in Hohenfels! I hope everyone is settling into their anticipation and excitement for the long nights and brilliant moments ahead.

It’s certainly been some time since my last post! I’ve been quite busy as usual. Branching out into large format photography has filled me with new ideas and visions. I hope to make some of the winter shots I’ve been visualizing and preparing for. Large format gives you a way of relating to the scene and subject that it’s hard to imagine without seeing it. This leads us to today’s basic topic, shooting tethered.

One distinct advantage of the digital age is the ability to hook up to a computer and see our images presented quite large. When we load our photos onto our PCs, it gives a way to see detail an ordinary 4x6 print denies us. It also gives us a tool to learn far more rapidly, by allowing us to honestly assess our images in all their glory, and with all their flaws.

But, as many folks don’t know, it also gives us a way to see those flaws prior to making our shot. It allows us to compose our scenes at a scale which invites a more involved relationship with the image. It allows us to troubleshoot our images prior to recording them, and to resolve any images that may prevent the full realization of our vision.

Previously, this has been the domain of those with large format cameras, like the 8x10 field camera or a 4x5 view camera. The composition was done on a negative sized piece of ground glass, with the image upside down and inverted. This naturally led to a slower pace and more contemplative image creation process. Combined with film costs, equipment costs, and time costs, large format photography was largely practiced by those making money from it. With the proliferation of digital cameras and the advent of sites like E-bay, large format become reasonably priced to anyone with the desire and motivation to learn the ins and outs. The format can be daunting and challenging, sometimes extremely so, but it can also be rewarding.

Now that we have DSLRs capable of producing extremely high quality images, and the capabilities of our computers, we can all practice Large Format.

Now that the background is behind us, the steps and equipment are quite simple. You most likely have the equipment you need, as it probably came with your camera. This would include a USB cable to connect to your computer, and the capture software that allows for control of your camera. If your camera didn’t come with the capture software, your manufacturer may have it at their website. If not, there are commercial options available that run from free to higher priced options. You’ll want a tripod and maybe a platform for your PC if you want to use a laptop from other that your desk. That’s it. Just start the software, and for Canon’s, select Remote Live View.

Once you’re connected, you can control everything. You can focus in the autofocus mode using the software, or in manual mode. Both ways give you a giant magnification and full control of your focus. You can control white balance and display your camera’s metering, which will allow you to control your exposure and place your values below, at, or above, neutral gray. It allows for full functionality of the camera, and can even capture directly to your hard drive. The beauty is in a few Windows hot key shortcuts, you can zoom in the live preview, making your preview as large as your monitor. How’s that for large format? Focus, DOF preview, and exposure controls as if shooting directly form the camera, and viewing from the computer, it can’t be beat. You’ll know if you have a keeper even before making the shot.

This has been around some time, just search for tethered shooting, but the first thing to learn is exposure, white balance, and how to use your camera. Once you know these things, you can move on, in ways I can’t even begin to touch upon here! Using tethered shooting will give you an appreciation for all the detail in the scene and lead to a new found way of looking at the smaller parts of a scene to see the big picture. It also saves the frustration of having to sort through the good and the bad. You’ll find yourself making fewer bad images when you shoot tethered.

It has its drawbacks. Who wants to carry a tripod, computer, and cables everywhere? Who feels like lugging extra stuff to make the picture? There are trade-offs in it, but you’ll find if you’re shooting something for your own vision, or if your doing something where there is time to set up and work that way, tethered may be your new default!

I hope this gives you some new ideas. Getting out there and shooting , tethered or un-tethered, will give you the winning shot this winter, so get started making your images now!

Please feel free to share your photos on our Faceboook page. Everyone here would love the chance to see your work! Is there anything you’d like to see here? Do you have a question? Share your thoughts here or at the Hohenfels Volks Facebook page. Of course, commenting on both Facebook and here is always appreciated, too! Don't forget, we're on Google+, too!

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