Today on The Slanted Lens we’re looking at the easiest method out there for calibrating color in your shots. It’s the SpyderCUBE from Datacolor, and it is about to make editing your shots much easier!
Using the SpyderCUBE
The SpyderCUBE is a really easy way to ensure you have the right color balance and density in your shots! It’s pretty much a gray card but way better! It is very simple to use, which makes it even better! All you need to do is include it in the first few shots you take in each setup. The chrome ball at the top of the CUBE allows you to see absolute white, while lower on the CUBE there is room for a gray card, a 98% white, a 3% black, and lastly a hole that is going to give you absolute black.
After you have shot your stills with the SpyderCUBE in some of the shots, you can use them to go into camera raw and adjust the blacks, grays, and the whites for the images. This will allow you to make sure that you get exactly the right color balance and exposure you are looking for so that you get the best shots possible. The CUBE makes shooting in direct sun and mixed lighting a piece of cake, believe me I know!
Editing Within Camera Raw
The first thing you want to do when you pull up your image in raw is select the eyedropper, which adjusts white balance. You will then select the highlight, or bright, side of the gray card. You don’t want to select the darker, shadow side because it will leave your image a little too dark. This will adjust the colors in your image to an accurate starting point. Remember, if you don’t like the colors in the image after doing this, you can adjust them!
You then want to start manipulating the exposure in the image. Before I do anything, I activate the warnings on both shadow and brightness so that the program will warn me if the image is getting too dark or too light. Then start adjusting the exposure until the gray card is showing about an 18% gray. You don’t want to blow the exposure way out, and if you are shooting in direct sunlight you probably won’t need to adjust the exposure very much.
Next, move on and start adjusting the blacks. You want to adjust them until you can begin to see the difference between the black card on the SpyderCUBE and the absolute black hole on the bottom surface of the CUBE. You can then adjust the clarity. Once you are happy with the image, save the settings and apply them to the rest of the images shot in that light.
Adapting for Other Lighting
If we then move our subject into the shade, it is important to make sure that you are choosing the side of the CUBE that reflects the same kind of light that is on the subject’s face. If you don’t, the image will end up being very blue. So the most important part of this process is selecting the face of the SpyderCUBE. Once you do that, the process is exactly the same.
Plus, you can always use the SpyderCUBE as a Christmas ornament once you are done!
Let me know if this little CUBE will help you in your work!
Keep those cameras rollin’ and keep on clickin’!