John Walrath: SpyderCUBE and SpyderCHECKR: Essential Tools for Interior Photography
Oct 2015 15

Prior to joining Datacolor, I focused most of my professional photographic efforts as an Interior and Architectural Photographer. My clients included Interior Designers, Ad Agencies and Builders. My job was to create images that accurately communicated the Designer’s vision for a home or building. Datacolor’s Color Management tools enabled me to communicate their vision confidently and efficiently.

LifeStyle_S5_on_monitor

It Starts With Your Display

The cornerstone of any digital workflow is an accurate display. Your display is the window into your digital world. If your display does not show an accurate representation of your image, you cannot make informed adjustments. Generally speaking, monitors are natively too saturated, too cool and too bright for a photographic workflow. As a consequence, these are attributes you are compensating for when you edit an image on an un-calibrated display. This means your image will not accurately reflect true-to-life color, nor print the way you intend without adjustment or test prints.

Spyder5EXPRESS, Spyder5PRO and Spyder5ELITE are our latest monitor calibration tools to provide the accurate display a photographer can rely on. Spyder5 will analyze the previously mentioned native qualities of your display and correct them to the color standards used in our industry. By doing this, you can achieve consistency from display to display, display to the world around us and display to print. By having an accurate viewing environment, you can confidently make accurate editing decisions for your images.

Meadowville1

This is a beautiful kitchen from a builder I frequently worked with. It was captured in my camera’s RAW format and is uncorrected. The lighting in this scene presented a typical challenge photographers often face. The challenge is to balance several light sources with different color temperatures to communicate your creative vision. Fortunately, the sun was fairly defused by clouds and created a pleasant wash of light over the interior. The practical lighting, light sources seen within the image, help create additional volume of light. I also added two 24”x24” constant light soft boxes outside the frame to help illuminate shadow areas. Many Interior Photographers prefer using flash but I favor constant light sources so I can better see how the lighting influences a scene.

Meadowville2

The SpyderCUBE is a valuable tool to find a natural white balance setting for a scene. The SpyderCUBE is a three dimensional gray card that also provides references for exposure, black point and highlights. One powerful use of the SpyderCUBE is to balance the primary light source in a scene. Many people use the SpyderCUBE for portraits in mixed lighting but it can be helpful anytime you want a reference for correcting white balance.

ScreenShot_Cube

The lighting in this scene is fairly even (by design) but the right side of the SpyderCUBE is slightly brighter – this represents the side with a greater influence on the white balance in the scene. In other words, the SpyderCUBE is able to isolate the direction of the influencing light source.

ScreenShot_CubeCorrected

To correct the white balance in this image, I selected the white balance eyedropper and clicked on the brighter right side. Notice how the color appears more natural once this correction is made.

SpyderCHECKR-

SpyderCHECKR and SpyderCHECKR 24 are designed to correct accuracy of color in a RAW image by creating corrections for the Hue, Saturation and Luminance. This is achieved by photographing the SpyderCHECKR chart with each camera and lens in a RAW format. Those pictures are corrected for white balance, white point and black point then sent to the SpyderCHECKR software. The software characterizes how each camera and lens combination reproduces the SpyderCHECKR chart then makes the preset corrections for Lightroom, Adobe Camera Raw and Hasselblad Phocus. These corrections are lighting independent, which means you do not need to capture the SpyderCHECKR as a reference and create correction presets in each lighting scenario.

Much of color correction relates to neutralizing or controlling the color influence of the light source. Once white balance is adjusted, SpyderCHECKR corrects the accuracy of the color captured in a scene.

ScreenShot_CheckrAdjusted

This image was captured with my Nikon D800 and 17-35mm lens so I applied the SpyderCHECKR preset from the User Presets section for this combination. The adjustment is subtle but notice the corrections to the values in the HSL Panel to the right of the image.

Final Steps

Once color is adjusted, I copied these settings and synced them with the image without the SpyderCUBE.

Next, I corrected perspective, added a little bit of contrast and sharpened the image. Like my color adjustments, my goal was to create a very natural, realistic image so I kept that in mind when applying these corrections.

Meadowville_Final

Conclusion

This is the workflow I used for every image I captured for my Interior and Architectural clients. Using SpyderCUBE and SpyderCHECKR is much more effective than pushing and pulling sliders till I think the image is correct. These tools also gave me confidence that I successfully communicated the Designer’s vision for the scene. Meeting your client’s creative vision or your own is key to a successful image – implementing these simple steps will help you get there more efficiently.

John Walrath

John Walrath is Datacolor’s Imaging Training & Technical Support Manager and an accomplished photographer. He earned his BFA in Interior Architecture and in 2010 sold a successful company to pursue a career as a professional photographer. Leveraging his training in Interior Architecture and passion for photography, John became a sought after Interiors photographer for Builders, Ad Agencies and Interior Designers in Central Virginia.

Datacolor’s Color Management tools have been vital to John’s personal and professional photography for many years. Since joining the Datacolor team in 2013, he has been an educational resource for photographers and videographers who want to improve their work through Color Management.