This post is dedicated to the folks at Artmedia in the UK. Artmedia offer a digital operator to high end photographers in the UK.
When in a studio environment, it is typical that the photographer will want to have the camera tethered direct to the computer, and in this case to Lightroom. However, one area that the digital operator needs to focus on is how the files are organised on the capture, as well as how they are re-named when they are sent to the client/retoucher or the photographer.
This post is how Lightroom can be used to support this type of workflow, how files can be named and organised when using Lightroom to manage the tether in the studio, as well as options for file naming on the export. This post won’t be covering the actual connection of the camera to Lightroom, as this is fairly simple to do.
For this post, i’ll start with an empty catalog, as I think it will be clearer.
Starting the Tether options
Lightroom works by having the catalog store activity from the captured file, the file preview information, keywords (if used), as well as camera information (ISO, File Type, F stop etc). Any images that are captured from the tether are stored outside of the catalog and referenced within Lightroom, within a folder specified on the tether configuration. Pictures will be added as soon as the shutter button is pressed.
To start a new tethering session, choose from the menu bar, File / Tethered Capture / Start Tethered Capture. This activity will show the Tethered Capture settings dialog.
Once the tether capture settings dialog box comes up you will need to set up the session.
- The Session name is how you will recognise this capture session inside Lightroom, as well as the folder name on the disk.
- “Segment Photos by Shots” – you can break down the whole session and categorise by a sub shoot. This check box will enable the sub shoot name and create a folder to store the pictures in (marked in red below). For example, say you are shooting items for a catalog and each item has a unique reference number, this reference number can be used in the shot name (The client may ultimatly want to be able to reference the images by this number).
- The template option will allow you to rename the image(s) once they come in from the camera.
- Custom text is a way to specify manual file name details.
- Start number is where to start the file numbering from.
- Destination is where the physical pictures will be stored (remember Lightroom does not store the pictures inside the catalog, so you will need to tell it where to actually store them). This can be changed by clicking the choose button.
- You can add additional meta data to the images (copyright etc), as well as Keyword(s) for each picture. Keywords can be used to organise the pictures, which can be used as filters later. i.e. If this is for a brand (i.e. Adobe), then you may want to have “Adobe” here in the keyword, which will allow you to group pictures together across shoots.
Once the configuration is done, press OK to start the tether session.
Once started then the tether toolbar will appear. The tether tool bar will show you the camera settings (i.e. ISO, Aperture, F-stop etc), as well as the shot name (“xyz123″ below). The large button on the right hand side of the the tether tool, will fire the shutter button.
You can see the additional shot name data “XYZ123″ on the tether bar, this will create a sub folder under the main shoot folder. The shots name can be changed at anytime, by clicking on it. The shot name dialog box will be displayed and you can change the shot name. This change will create another sub folder under the session name. If the shot name entered is an existing folder/shot name, Lightroom will re-select it and start to shoot into an this folder (this is handy to re-shoot items).
As we know Lightroom does not touch or change the physical Raw file. Any development or meta data changes that are made in Lightroom are stored as metadata . This metadata can be stored within the catalog (default), or as a sidecar file (configured in the Lightroom catalog settings, using the save as XMP checkbox), or next to the original raw file (NEF, CR2 etc). If an Adobe DNG Raw file is used, the metadata is stored within the DNG file, and not as a side car file. N.B. The DNG format is a file container (like PDF) and has the ability to store multiple pieces of information, it makes it easy to transfer the development changes as a single file.
Any Development setting that are made in Lightroom, are applied during the image export process from Lightroom. This output file will most likely be in an output format (such as tiff, psd, jpg etc). You can export a DNG file or the original file as well.
Export, has many configurable options, and are different to the import/tethered capture configuration :-
The files that are created from the export can be placed in :
- The same file as the original – This can be the session name or if the shot name is specified, will be the session name + shot name (you can also specify a sub folder if required)
- On export - This is handy to place the files in a very specific place, i.e. in the session folder and not the shot folder (if shot name is used). This might be called Output, and is where all files are placed (different file types, resolution etc).
- A specific folder – the same folder name each time, you can also specify a sub folder if required.
The add to catalog will ensure that the output folder is created automatically in the Lightroom catalog.
Rename Files can employ a custom setting, or a pre-defined name.
When the “Edit” is selected on rename files, the following dialog will be displayed. This dialog will define the new name for the file.
The renamed image can contain the original file name, file name and suffix, or the folder name, this is handy as it will include the shoot name if this was chosen on the tether.
Metadata can also be used on the file name, and can be selected from the following options.
Using this method, a file name can be created to resemble the sessions and the shot name if used. i.e. File name + folder name + shot name + counter.
i.e. file name will now become – filename_XYZ123_sequence number.
This is one example, and will make it easy to have images that have been taken to include the shot name that was used to segment the different shots under the session. This will make it easy for the client / retoucher or photographer to recognise the images that were taken. Using the Photographer name will also make sure that the images can always be tracked back to the person performing the shoot.
Controlling the Second screen during a tether.
Once the tether is up and running and the second screen is showing the pictures to the client. The operator of Lightroom can control what the client sees (with Developments applied) from the main Lightroom session. The blog post is available here.