Webinar: Advanced Uses of the SpyderCUBE

now this is the most specific detailed single focused webinar that we’ve given and we’ve been very encouraged by the number of participants that we’ve had attending even when we get into these kind of unique areas the spider cube is is in some ways my baby I have been involved with its development and usage ever since we originally started producing the product and I’ve worked in the last several months with David’s afar quite closely in determining some new uses for the spider cube that aren’t just adjusting your raw settings with it after the fact but rather getting things right in the camera and even using it for for setup for for studio lighting so I hope that David will have time in his hour if I don’t take too much of it up here to cover a number of those facets of spider Q abuse I’d also like to say that I’m happy to see some names I recognize of attending this webinar photographers I’ve worked with companies that I love to see represented I won’t name any names other than Apple but it’s nice to see you all here and what we will do is once the webinar is in progress we’ll do two or three polls so we get some information from you and then at the end we will have a raffle of among the participants who have stuck it out for a spider for pro and then we’ll also have a discount option for other attendees so be sure to stick around for those things at the end now I’m going to hand you over to David Saffir and you’re going to get to see a few of his lovely photos from his latest Safari and in Washington State as well as here about the spider queue thank you thank you David hello everybody again this is David Saffir I’m a photographer and print maker I live in Southern California and as David mentioned we’ve been working for several months now on some different ways some advanced ways to use the spider cube in managing your image capture and also in post-production and I think that you’re going to find that a little bit of it is out of the box probably no pun intended that you’ll find that a very simple small tool is going to be extremely useful to you going forward in terms of managing your exposure dynamic range color and some other issues so David let me let me break in here one more time the one thing I didn’t mention is that I’m gonna be answering questions live the entire hour so if you people can can configure your window so that you can see the questions and answers and then feel free to ask me particularly Spyder cube related questions I’m game for anything but those are the what we’ll focus on then I will type away on that while David is talking so I’m sorry to interrupt you I’ll go back in to listen mode here okay so let’s move on to the next slide there’s a number of data color capture products we’ve done a webinar previously on these the the the Spyder lens Cal for example can be used for calibrating your lenses with appropriate cameras and the spider checker of course is used as a color reference chart as a camera profiling device and some other things as well so we have a family of products here that are all used to help you manage capture and also in some cases post-production now the focus for today is the spider cube it’s a multi-purpose device and interestingly this is this is probably close to life-size it’s multi-purpose it’s versatile and durable it’s pretty much indestructible and it’s made of an advanced polymer so for example if you scratch it it doesn’t affect its ability to help you in your work in any way the bottom has a threaded master you can mount it on a tripod or appropriate light stand and you can use it in exposure management you can use it to set in camera white balance you can use it in post to help you with your color or gray balance and it’s also quite useful in managing dynamic range and that’s the range of tones from the brightest tones in your image to the darkest your image as you wish to see them and that’s important it’s related to we’re talking in terms of related to the zone system and I’m not going to delve into that you know down to 20,000 feet and bore you to death I’m going to talk about it a little bit as a way of illustrating how the spider cube can help you in your work it’s useful for handheld shooting studio work tethered shooting in particular and in post-production and it’s more than a

gray card much more than a great card so here’s an illustration of a setup that we had put together for photographing some artwork and we have a great card in it and the great cards work fine in terms of managing car but you’ve got some issues with this it’s a single plane and some of these will become a little bit more clearer as we go forward why I’m talking about these the single plane means that you can’t really use it to measure light coming from different directions it’s unidirectional it’s limited to help me with mid-range exposure and your color or gray balance it can’t help you address all of your dynamic range issues it can’t help you set your black point or your white point it can’t even tell you in camera whether you’re your LCD is telling you the truth you can’t you can’t even use a black white grey card for the same kind of purpose that you can use the spider cube so they have some pretty significant limitations you you’re you’re in a position where it’ll do part of the job but it doesn’t necessarily do the whole job it’s certainly better than nothing and I would encourage you if you’re using one – at least to continue to use it until you decide whether or not you feel spider cube is for you but in any event if you look at this chart on the bottom of your screen the spider cube is really the tool that you want if you want to manage that range of endpoint range of intermediate tones and lack endpoints now we’re gonna start with a poll real quick one we want to know sure you’re using a great balance tool whether it’s a card or a lens overlay and just go ahead and answer that we’ll pause while you do please what we go forward okay so let’s have a look at the results 35% of the attendees are using a card six percent are using a lens over excuse me a lens overlay 23 percent are using a color target and 24 percent are using the Spyder cue and 13 percent are using none of the above that’s an interesting distribution that’s a very interesting distribution in particular I’m I’m impressed by the high level of usage of the color target in the spider queue very interesting thank you okay let me get back over to my screen now the zone system is it was developed by Ansel Adams and some people don’t know this but Fred Archer played a part and it was intended to provide a benchmark for optimal image exposure of course in the days of film and it started with black and white sheet film that was applicable to other films and of course as time went on people found that it was applicable for digital and you can see that there’s these panels and they’re numbered from 0 to 10 and they’re really intended to as a benchmark to help you understand how you can render light subjects as light and dark subjects as dark according to your visualization or your intent and that’s an important point it’s not something that’s supposed to lock you in to n say well you have to be in zone 9 or you have to be in zone 3 it’s a benchmark and when you take a shot sometimes I think we all know this that the camera isn’t always capable of capturing that full range of tones sometimes you have to sacrifice the shadows for the highlights and vice versa but it has to be by intent I think that you don’t want to be shooting if you pardon me in blindly and hoping for the best what you want to be do is be aware of where your end points are and how choosing an endpoint is going to affect your mid-tones now zone one is near black with slight tonality and no texture and zone nine slight tonality no texture sort of like bright snow and no the key to success here and this is part

of getting it right in camera is to control the end points in the mid range so again it’s a benchmark the zone system you know it’s treated as something that’s very esoteric and mysterious and only for extremely advanced photographers and I think that’s a bunch of baloney I think that it’s very clear that it’s intended simply as a reference in a lot for most people in most situations and that you can use this going forward to gauge how you’re doing in terms of getting what you want in your work and getting it right in the camera now most of us have cameras that allow us to set a custom white balance hang on one second and say thank you and you know put the spider Cube in the scene and you know fill the frame as much as you can and then every camera is slightly different you’re going to fill the frame with the spider cube and you’re going to set the white balance to custom white balance and what this does is it maximizes the usefulness of the camera’s LCD display and it’s jpeg review and here’s why I wouldn’t say it’s deceptive practice but what the camera manufacturers don’t tell you is that the LCD is showing you a semi processed JPEG not your raw file and that’s an important thing to know the LCD at best is a in my opinion a relatively weak representation of what your image really is going to deliver for you and setting a custom white balance in a given lighting condition will improve the appearance of that in the sense that color and density will improve and if you have them enabled the white clipping view the Blinky’s those highlights that flash on and off black to white will be more accurate and now if you if you have a proper exposure here’s where the different parts of the spider cube sort of the use of them comes becomes a little clearer the chrome ball at the top almost always have a bright highlight on it you know in a well-lit particularly a well-lit scene and that should almost always be blinking that will show you where your specular highlights are if however whichever of the white panels and remember the spider cube is a multi-dimensional surface so I can show you the intensity of light coming from different directions but on the brightest side if the white area is blinking it’s very likely that you’re overexposed that’s inside the blue circle on the screen in front of you and that’s definitely a warning sign that you you know either you need to understand that you’re going to lose some detail in the highlights in this photograph or you’re going to have to adjust your exposure and on the high side and bring it down now those are decisions that you have to make on the spot one of the things that there’s a real advantage in using the spider cube for this is if you’re shooting tethered rather than in the field because now you have a hopefully calibrated computer screen and you will be able to see you could even go ahead and change the exposure settings and take a test shot and see how your highlights are doing in the test shot with the adjustment and get a much more accurate view of what may be your end result but I digress for a second there is also I’m going to flip back to the previous slide if you look at this picture there is a black trap or a black circle in the in the center of the frame and that should with proper exposure appear to be darker than the black frame around it and that gives you an indication of the bottom end of your zones whether or not you are under or underexposed or not now again it’s a decision it’s a creative decision or an artistic decision or technical decision it’s not locked in you can increase exposure now what happens if you feel like you have to give up one for the other well that’s that’s what’s going to happen if you look at the picture in the camera LCD at the bottom this is a picture of a an old truck in a field in an area called the Palouse in Washington State and this picture was taken in early morning direct Sun and I had to make a couple of decisions if I made the photograph the exposure bright enough to

see into the shadows on the side of the car the headlight which was reflecting light back into the camera was much too bright and so I throttled down the exposure and gave up the shadows in the background and the spyder cube quite clearly showed me where that decision point was so it’s part of your creative process or your your your production process getting it right in the camera is much easier with the Spyder cube now at this point you would set your manual exposure use that to fine-tune if you wish and go ahead and shoot now you can also use the Spyder cube in studio and on location and use it as the first in a series of images with the with with the same lighting condition and this crazy eye test I apologize but it was the only way I could figure out to show you the purpose or the names of all these different surfaces if you look on the right side you can see it says primary light source gray primary light sources card white you can see the nomenclature the black trap absolute black that’s black with no detail no texture the black face is what we sometimes call card black which may have a little bit of texture in it and you have secondary surfaces this is particularly useful if you’re shooting with multiple lighting sources even if they’re the same color temperature because you can choose whether to use those surfaces on the key light side or the secondary light side as you can use those references on the key light side or the secondary light side so if you take a photograph that includes the cube it’ll capture important information about your shooting conditions that you can use in making raw adjustments now of course you can always have previously set the automatic white balance in the camera using the spider cube but it provides multiple surface configurations you can also you can use it to measure your key light you can use it to measure your secondary light or your fill lights and I found it’s particularly useful in making sure that when I add a second third or fourth light and I’m not overpowering what’s going on or even creating blown out highlights in some part of the setup that I didn’t intend to have now this is one of this is like a nightmare situation if you know what I mean particularly in public buildings but also more and more as one moves around you can find situations where they have the environmental friendly light bulbs they have fluorescent light bulbs they have a condesa light bulbs and they have window light all in the same room and it gets to the point where if you don’t have a cube or even a gray card for that matter you’re in a situation where it’s going to be very very difficult to control the color in post-production so this shot is looking pretty bad and it’s got at least three or four different types of light in use in the room now we’re starting off with Lightroom 4 and I’m going to push my cursor onto the screen and just you know point out that the blue arrows are playing simply to the different light sources and on the white rune control panels you’re going you see here a red rectangle that shows you the histogram pretty mixed results in the histogram and we have a white balance or sometimes called a gray balance eyedropper now if one would zoom in on this picture one would pick and you can see that one side is slightly brighter than the other one would pick a side of the spider cube and click on it now once you’ve done that I’m gonna flip forward and then back again you would get a result that’s something like this but there’s a couple of things in between particularly with the new controls in Lightroom Lightroom 4 once you have set the grey balance you can go forward and adjust exposure and highlights shadows whites and blacks now David might disagree with me on this but there are times where I will set the gray balance and make some of these adjustments and then go back and try the gray balance again just to see if I get a better result or a worse result you can always undo it but I sometimes find that if I can make strong enough adjustments that at second gray balance is helpful sometimes it’s not it depends on the situation now there’s a couple of tools

in Lightroom that I think you should know about very very helpful if you hold down the Alt + windows or the option key on the Mac and you move these sliders you’re going to get what’s called clipping warnings and basically what it does is as you move for example the highlight slider to the right in this case the brightest parts of the photograph the parts that are going to lose detail and go off into the ozone that was an intended button they’re going to lose detail are gonna start showing up and the first thing they’re gonna do is show you the color Qian that’s blowing out first so over here on the right the green color channel is blowing out first but these lamps were pretty much overexposed to begin with so as soon as I push down the option key they showed up as being problem areas now you can also watch the histogram and in this case you would watch the right side and watch for the spike and that spike represents those two lamps and the more you push the highlight slider to the right I’m sorry the exposure slider to the right the more you’re going to see this histogram move to the right as well now you can also turn on the clipping warnings for both highlights and shadows with these little triangles that are in the upper right hand corner so the histogram panel so there’s a couple of ways that you can address this I strongly urge you if you haven’t done this before to try it I think it will teach you a lot about what’s possible in post-production and what your end result is going to look like you really don’t want to go too far down the path of editing without having some kind of heads-up about what’s you know what’s the cumulative effect of the changes that you’re making it’s kind of a pain in the neck to have to undo you know 20 history steps and redo them because you find that the images got so much back up and editing that it’s not usable anymore happens to people particularly late at night as we all know so looking at the end result I think it’s very pleasing you can see the histogram is much better balanced etc etc but most importantly the spyder cube helped us balance the color in this image quite nicely now here we are in camera 7.0 this really isn’t that much different than say earlier versions of Camera Raw obviously used with Photoshop except that a lot of these sliders now start at zero position in the middle rather than all the way at the left so it’s a little more congruent with Lightroom it’s also easier to use because obviously you can get into the negatives or positives instead of starting from a zero point the same tools exist here in terms of the triangles in the midst of the histogram and the same thing applies in terms of say moving the exposure slider if you hold down the Alt key in Windows or the option key on the Mac you will see the clipping warnings come up on your screen now the dropper is in a different place of course it’s on the upper left and if you click once on it and bring it down sometimes it’s helpful to zoom in and click on that the most brightly lit gray service again you will get your color correction that you need and there we go now it’s not Illustrated here but there’s a couple of things I’m going to point out is that you can place color I’m sorry color samplers using this tool right here anywhere you want in the image and when you place them they’re going to show up right here and they’re going to give you the RGB numbers so one way to keep track of the color balance in various parts of your image for example on the pillow would be to place a color sampler right there and then you could keep an eye on it and have a look at first of all how bright it was is it 255 255 255 that’s going to be pure white or is it still showing you a bit of mixed car for some reason usually that won’t be the case but you can see if colors are accurate as well as pleasing to the eye on your calibrated screen okay now and take a quick look at this at this photograph it’s not the greatest picture in the world but I think you can see that as compared to this in

just take a look at the walls for example okay as it is a point of detail and then we come back forward you can see the textures in the walls much more clearly so there’s a lot to be said for making this kind of precise correction because it’s going to how do I put this it’s going to when the covers are so far out of whack it also tends to trash image quality overall and so when you bring them back into range and you’re really representing what the sensor should have seen then you’re in a much better position to get the most out of your photographs now there’s a couple of other things that you can do with the spider cube and I think this is particularly useful you know what I am it adapt Lane that I wanted to make and I’m going to swing back here whether you’re in Lightroom I’m not going to get into the details because it’s almost a discussion that one can spend a whole day on but you can use in either Lightroom or in Camera Raw there’s a way to leapfrog these color Corrections onto all the other images that you took in the same lighting conditions in other words you can synchronize them so for example in in Adobe Camera Raw if I had open several images at the same time you would see thumbnails on the left and there’s a button that says select all and synchronized so once you get that first image like this one of the room and let’s say you have several other images of that room you can simply click on synchronize and your color Corrections and your adjustments the highlights and shadows and whites and blacks will all be and several other things will all be applied to those other images in that same batch and it’s a very powerful tool that you should think about investigating and take a look at now let’s say you have an image that has the spider cube in it and you want to particularly in Photoshop for example it’s quite easy to do a couple of things with say the curves adjustment panel it’s quite easy to set your white black and gray points using the spider cube and I’m going to give you a little tip that you’re gonna find to be very useful particularly if you’re printing your work now here’s here’s the thing is that it’s quite possible that in a photograph you would have white values at in red green and blue as you can see on the car picker here of 255 255 255 which would be widest white but that that’s paper white that’s not going to give you anything on a printed page so what you want to do is set back that white point a little bit and you can actually do that as a custom setting so what one does is double clicks opens the curves adjustment panel you double click on the white eyedropper and the color picker will come up and all you have to do is come down here to the RGB settings and type in 245 in each one of these and that will set your white point the brightest white point in your image to what is for most inkjet printers the brightest tone that they can reproduce without going to paper white and it’s very very useful tool so once you set that you would click OK you’re going to then you would go to the black eyedropper and you would set that instead of to zero zero zero for absolute black you would set it to about six in each each one of those squares and click OK now I can’t remember right at the moment whether at this point it asks you if you want these to be permanent settings or not I think it’s when you click OK on the curves pellet that it does that but in any event you would you both of these eyedroppers to go over to the spider cube in your image and the white eyedropper clicked on the brightest white face the black eyedropper clicked on the black or the black card face not not the black trap but the black card face and then last the gray balance tool and at that point you’re going to have your endpoints set properly so that you will have at least minimal detail in your brightest highlights and minimal detail in your

darkest shadows now that’s not going to help you if in some part of your in some cases it won’t help you if in some parts of your image like we saw before with those table lamps if they’re so overexposed that there’s no detail to begin with setting them back to 2:45 in all three channels is not going to get you a whole lot of mileage you might want to pick you know that’s not going that’s not going to I’ll just step back and say obviously you had to sacrifice the details and lampshades to get the exposure correct in the rest of the room and that’s that applies to shadows so you have to sometimes have to decide on the high end or the low end what your exposure has to be or what you’re going to give up when you’re making your adjustments in post-production now this is a an example of capture one Pro it also works with hustle Bloods focus there are other programs where you can shoot tethered and it’s really the same kind of setup as Lightroom in a way because in the the color adjustment palette which is outlined in orange here I would go and grab the color adjustment they call it the white balance eyedropper and I would go to the spider cube and click on that and that would set the color balance for that frame now just like with Lightroom what I can do here is apply I can copy those settings and probably just about all the other settings on here and make all the adjustments to the first frame copy them to a quote quote clipboard and then apply them to all the other images such as the one below that are in the set and again you get a enormous benefit in terms of time savings and consistency from frame to frame now if you change your lighting slightly I wouldn’t be too concerned about that but if you do make a significant change in your lighting you may want to put the Spyder cube back in the scene and reshoot it and reset so that the photos that come after that would be consistent with those lighting conditions and not subordinated to ones that were used previously in the day now the thing about the Spyder cube is it’s an own device and being as durable as it is and made the way it is it’s pretty much indestructible the the card surfaces the white the gray and the black surfaces are made out of a material that you know you could take a nail and drag it across it and the color that comes through would still be consistent with the surface it’s multi-purpose it’s small and portable it even comes on a little carrying bag and I have one in just about every camera bag that I own and it’s mountable for controlled placement in other words it’s you can place it on a light stand you could use a quick clamp it has a tethered string on the top there’s been times where I’ve given the Spyder cube to somebody and said could you just walk out in the middle of this scene and hold this thing up for me and it works fine it’s really quite ideal for white great balance and it’s multi cited for use and uneven or mixed lighting and yet I can’t overemphasize how important that is a gray card can’t do that for you a grey card can only show you one dimension one direction it’s useful but limited and so the Spyder cube being multi-sided in unli uneven or mixed lighting is really going to give you much more control and the black white and gray values help you manage dynamic range and again I can’t overemphasize that enough having a consistent reference that puts you in zone so to speak that lets you go to a particular point in terms of the the amount of light coming back to the camera and making a rational decision about where you want your your brightest point to be how much detail you want to see on the high end how much detail you want to see on the shadow side is very very important and it’s even more critical with digital in my opinion than it was in the days of shooting Chrome’s I’ve always thought digital is much more demanding than shooting Chrome’s I think digital is much more sensitive particularly on the high end to errors in capture and so getting it right in the camera is even more important than it used to be you know it’s it’s kind of

like that issue with well we’ll fix it later in Photoshop almost deserves a smack on the side of the head because it’s almost always a problem excuse me and very time-consuming to try and fix these kinds of issues in post-production it’s also useful for in-camera white balance my opinion of the presets on these cameras is that they’re blunt instruments at best that the daylight setting or the tungsten setting are useful but there’s really nothing better than a custom in-camera white balance and yes it’s less convenient and of course if you have a spider cube in the picture it will help you regulate both color balance and your your end points but that that white balance also gives you remember a better preview that you’re looking at a process JPEG not a raw file and so the closer you can get to reality a true white balance in the camera the better off you’re going to be JPEGs are really limited to begin with they they’re they’re not very flexible and they tend to clip important things and so the more you can support the camera in doing its job the better off you’re going to be now let’s see her I’m not seeing questions on the screen for some reason today so if there are some questions I can answer I’d be glad to do that we’re finishing a little bit early this is a fairly focused subject and so I’ve run through pretty much the material that I wanted to cover the article I have an article that I’ve written in collaboration with David Tobey that’s going to appear in the September issue of photo technique magazine I suggest you take a look at that it’s it really covers the same material that we’ve covered here was a little bit more detail about his own system and a little bit more detail about post-production and I think you’ll find it to be quite useful now I have a poll question for everybody take a look at this gray ramp on your screen and and tell me if you can see all 11 steps you answer all all these that apply do all the steps look pure black pure white and pure gray and do some of the steps have a color cast or color tint they look a little red or green or magenta so let’s see what we get here okay so we’ve got 88% can see all the steps and 45% say they can they say that everything looks pure black white or gray and 10% say that they they see some kind of a color cast now I would suggest that if any of you that have issues with not being able to see all the steps or you’re seeing a color cast if you haven’t recently calibrated your display you should consider doing that if you’re not calibrating your display I definitely recommend it if after calibrating your display you can’t see all these steps you may be working with a monitor that’s a little bit under the radar as far as giving you the maximum benefit when you’re editing your photographs well it’s just something to think about a little bit of an objective test for you okay so I’m waiting for the okay the winner of the spider for pro is Nancy you know I hope I’m pronouncing that correctly Nancy and congratulations we also have a promotional price on the spider the data color website it’s at Spider data color comm 20% off starting on the 15th that’s today through the

22nd the promo code is cube one that’s cube one lower case by the way I’m I have a message here on my screen Nancy we will send you an email asking you for your mailing address I like to offer my thanks to data color for their kind sponsorship of this program it’s greatly appreciated I enjoy the opportunity to meet with people and hopefully help them be better photographers my name is David staffer and my blog address my web address and my email are all provided here one thing I do for my students is that I’m perfectly happy to answer questions via email I do get a lot of emails if you find that you have sent me an email and you don’t get an answer in 24 hours please do send it again it means that I missed it somehow and that does happen occasionally and it can’t be helped there’s just the volume is just too much sometimes I’d also like to thank David Toby his blog which is quite interesting he’s one of those technical wizards that you can’t afford not to pay attention to his CD Toby dot wordpress.com and his website is CD Toby comm so I would like to thank everybody for attending I appreciate your time and attention and again thanks to data color for your sponsorship David do you have anything that you’d like to add no I think did a great job David you covered a lot of the issues including a couple that I had told people might not be covered in the webinar like the details of a CR setting location so I was very pleased to see them in there I was also amused to see that one of your images kind of outlined the critical controls for a CR and it looked very much like an illustration I built not long ago for showing where the ACR controls are for using the cube the new way with with the latest version of Photoshop six and an ACR 7.1 I also did a similar illustration which covers lightroom 4 and both of those are on the spider blog and both of those i believe are up on my blog at the CD toby dot wordpress.com blog so i believe that we’ve covered much of the same material in different ways between your webinar here and my articles the other stuff that we’ve all put together to to try to document this over the last month so I appreciate your participation in all that David thank you well I think that covers our webinar for today so keep in mind that you will be able to go to this webinar to review it or to show it to other people once you get the address email to you which will happen within the next day or so and that it will be a whale available for well indefinitely on our website thereafter and that you have an opportunity here to get this discount using the code that’s listed here but you should write it down from here because I don’t guarantee that that will be included in the materials that goes up onto the website with the blog so thank you all for attending and we hope to see you next month or at some of our other events in the coming future I want to add one thing David made a point about blog articles and of course one thing that you can do to take advantage of the material that we both post online is to subscribe to those blogs because we’re constantly adding material although August I’ve been away quite a bit we’re constantly adding material to those and if you subscribe to them for example via email you can get updates automatically on color management photography and related issues so I take a look at that alright everybody have a great week and thank you very much for attending this webinar