CD Tobie: Directions for Using the SpyderCUBE with Lightroom 4, Photoshop CS6 & Camera Raw 7.1
Aug 2012 28

Lightroom 4


Lightroom 4 uses Process 2012 and introduces improved adjustment controls, requiring a new method of adjusting images using the SpyderCUBE.

1. Go to the Lightroom Develop Mode. Set the White Balance by using the eyedropper to sample from the center of the lighter of the two gray faces, which represents the primary light source’s color temperature and tint.

2. View RGB values in the Histogram Section. Set the Exposure control so that the lighter gray face has RGB values of 50%, or your preferred card gray value.

3. Set the Whites control so that the lighter white face has RGB values of 90%, or your preferred card white value.

4. Turn on White Clipping Indicator. Check that Specular Highlights in Chrome Ball reach 100% and trigger White Clipping Indicator. If not, increase Whites level to achieve Specular Highlights, and adjust white face back to 90% using Highlights control. Optimize relation between Specular Highlights and Card Whites with Whites and Highlights controls.

5. Turn on the Black Clipping Warning. Adjust the Blacks control until the SpyderCUBE‘s black trap is mostly or entirely to the Black Warning color; RGB values of 1% or less.

6. Adjust the Shadows control until the black face shows RGB values of 5% to 10%, depending on the amount of “bounce light” illuminating the black face. Turn Black Clipping off for visual check that black trap can be easily distinguished from black face.

7. Recheck the card white and card gray RGB values again, as each adjustment can effect the adjustments made before it. Retune until optimal.

8. Apply this set of adjustments to all other images shot under these lighting conditions by using Previous button, or by saving as a Preset.

This method now has five controls, instead of the three used in earlier Processes, offering finer control of shadow-to-black ratios and black clipping, and highlight-to-whites ratios and white clipping.

Photoshop CS6 and Adobe Camera Raw 7.1


Photoshop CS6 and Adobe Camera Raw 7.1 also use Process 2012 and introduce improved adjustment controls, requiring a new method of adjusting images using the SpyderCUBE.

1. Trigger ACR 7.1, by opening a RAW file that includes the SpyderCUBE, in Photoshop CS6. Set the White Balance by using the eyedropper to sample from the center of the lighter of the two gray faces, which represents the primary light source’s color temperature and tint.

2. View RGB values in the Histogram Section. Set the Exposure control so that the lighter gray face has RGB values of 128, or your preferred card gray value.

3. Set the Whites control so that the lighter white face has RGB values of 230, or your preferred card white value.

4. Turn on White Clipping Indicator. Check that Specular Highlights in Chrome Ball reach 255 and trigger White Clipping Indicator. If not, increase Whites level to achieve Specular Highlights, and adjust white face back to 230 using Highlights control. Optimize relation between Specular Highlights and Card Whites with Whites and Highlights controls.

5. Turn on the Black Clipping Warning. Adjust the Blacks control until the SpyderCUBE’s black trap is mostly or entirely to the Black Warning color; RGB values of 3 or less.

6. Adjust the Shadows control until the black face shows RGB values of 13 to 26, depending on the amount of “bounce light” illuminating the black face. Turn Black Clipping off for visual check that black trap can be easily distinguished from black face.

7. Recheck the card white and card gray RGB values again, as each adjustment can effect the adjustments made before it. Retune until optimal.

8. Apply this set of adjustments to all other images shot under these lighting conditions by saving a Preset from the Settings Menu, and applying to each image, or apply to an entire group of images using Adobe Bridge.

This method now has five controls, instead of the three used in earlier Processes, offering finer control of shadow-to-black ratios and black clipping, and highlight-to-whites ratios and white clipping.

Example of SpyderCUBE Adjustments in Process 2012


We often think that Gray Balance and Exposure tools aren’t needed outdoors under midday lighting conditions. We also tend to assume such corrections are less important with a “artistic” lens such as a Lensbaby . But the shots below show the SpyderCUBE used to adjust a midday, Lensbaby shot. It produces a noticeable improvement in white balance, turning the sky a more appropriate sky blue, the shingles are more accurate shade, the corrected image shows more saturation in the flowers, opens the shadows on the porch, increasing shingle detail under the porch roof, while improving the punch of the dark windows.

So while its tempting to show the radical improvements that using the Cube provides to difficult lighting situations, instead I’m showing what it does in a situation where most of us would assume SpyderCUBE correction was not necessary.

Could I have made similar adjustments without the Cube? Perhaps, but how does one know just what corrections to make, without a reference? The Cube manages to pack several references into one device, and captures side lighting of the type in this photo in a way that a flat target does not; a flat target would captured much less sun, and much more blue sky bounce, and given a significantly cooler white balance.

SpyderCUBE reference shot, corrected based on the Cube in the image.

The following exposure, at its default state in the RAW convertor.

The same exposure, corrected using the adjustments from the Cube image.

C. DAVID TOBIE has been involved in color management and digital imaging from their early development. David has worked to see affordable solutions put in place for graphic design, prepress, photography and digital imaging, and then taught users how best to utilize them. He has consulted internationally for a wide range of color-related companies, and is best known by photographers for his writing and technical editing of texts and periodicals for the photo industry such as Mastering Digital Printing, and Professional Photographer magazine, and his seminars on color and imaging at photographic workshop around the globe. David is currently Global Product Technology Manager at Datacolor, where he develops new products and features for their Spyder line of calibration tools. His work has received a long line of digital imaging product awards including the coveted TIPA award, and a nomination for the Spyder line of calibration tools. Much of David’s recent writing can be found at his photography blog: cdtobie.wordpress.com, and his samples of his photography can be seen at: cdtobie.com.