Sunday, January 26, 2014

Shoot - Develop - Enlarge (the modern times)

The title might be misleading. We are not talking old-skool chemical photography here. However, more and more analogies reveal themselves to me.
Let's have a look what is possible today!

You may have seen that many photo-studios show near-live images to their clients. This is called tethering. A raw image is presented on a large screen, just a moment after the shot has been taken.
This is very cool, however, not every amateur setup is able to do that... not every, but some!

Mine does! And here are the specs which enable me to tether to either to my workstation or to my laptop.

First of all, the camera. I am using a Canon EOS 350D (aka. Rebel XT). A camera I really love! Thought of replacing it over the years, however, up to now, I was unable to find any reason to retire this fine piece of technology.

On the computer side of things, 3 main players are to be mentioned. First of all my trusty GA-Z77N-WiFi i5-3570k running OS-X 10.9.1, which serves as an everyday image processing machine.
On a secondary basis, I am using an HP ProBook 4540s (i3 SandyBridge), running OS-X 10.8.5.
Speaking "Apple", we are looking at Mavericks and Mountain Lion in terms of operation systems.
And last to not least, my AMD FX-6100 based debian machine.

The topic was tethering... hence, it would be about time to look into some software allowing tethering of DSLRs.
Of course, the first look is into free software. To be found under the GPL is a product called darktable. Very obviously, the name of this particular software reflects a "darkroom" and a "light-table", both being tools of photographer of the chemical age. Also, the name reminds of "LightRoom" (the name of non-free software by Adobe).

I love darktable! However, it is not as easy to use, as one may hoped for. On the positive, it is free and it enables tethering!

On all OS's I experienced that, as soon as the camera is connected, some sort of software takes over the connection. Fair enough, there might be shots on the memory card, which we may want to transfer to the workstation.
However, we are looking into tethering here. So, how do we get darktable accepting the camera for tethering purposes?

Before we start, we have to set the camera into the correct mode. In the settings (some of the wrenges) it says "PC connection"... that's what we want!

When having connected the camer, first of all, we need to close all programs which opend when the camera was connected. Now, let's wait for a bit! Really, this is mandantory!
As soon as everything settled down a bit, we want to open darktable.
In the "light table" mode, click "scan for devices". The camera should show up, in my case as "Canon Rebel XT". If not, try again!
As soon as the camera is detected correctly, there is an option to "tether". Click on this to start a new tethering session.

This may not work the first time, hence, be patient!
For me, this works perfectly under OS-X 10.9.1, OS-X 10.8.5 and Debian-Linux.

As to the title of this post, this would be the "shoot" part. The part that gets the initial data.

From here on, we need to focus on "post-processing", i.e. developing and "enlarging".

As a side remark, the AMD FX-6100 box, under debian, takes a punch in post-production,

We are done with the shooting part of the photo. Now, lets move into the develop part of things. Of course, there are some options to do "development work" in darktable, however, I would strongly recomment to use rawtherapee for further purposes. Tweak your raws as you would tweak your film in the good old days!

For wrapping things up, the tool of my choice is the GIMP. The functionality of the GIMP is very close to what PhotoShop can offer.

This post is not about developing or enlarging, it is about the moment you are shooting, in a studio, with a talent... Tethering will ensure that the talent understands what you, as a photographer, are doing. This is what this post is all about.

=> set up your studio, such that the shots can be seen on a huge screen, just when they were taken.



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