Guessing white balance while editing my RAW files in Lightroom usually leaves me with headaches. Recently, Midwest Photo Exchange offered a course with Datacolor on color management (check out our other courses here). I had used a color checker before in a previous shoot, but this was the first time I was introduced to the SpyderCUBE. This fade-proof and shockproof little cube is perfect for any photographer looking to correctly white balance their image. Usually I’ll try to balance off of a white portion in my image, but this cube is more accurate and it’s also pretty inexpensive.
The SpyderCUBE can be combined with the SpyderCHECKR24 to get both color correction for your camera and the proper exposure, white balance, and black level in post processing. This is perfect for wedding shots that need white balanced, and is ideal for commercial photography. What’s easy about these two tools is that once you take a reference picture, you don’t need to take another one unless you change the lighting.
During the photo walk portion of the class I was helping the group to find things to take pictures of, so I was unable to use the cube as much as I would have liked. So, I decided to take a trip around the Clintonville area to get some of my own shots and to demonstrate how easy it is to use these two objects. The cube was actually small enough to put in my jacket pocket so all I needed to carry was the SpyderCHECKR24 and the Fuji XT-1 with a 14mm lens.
Below are some examples of how a small cube can make a huge difference in your photos. For this demonstration, only white balance was adjusted (other than the SpyderCHECKR24 image below which has an adjustment in contrast). The exposure corrections are the same as well as the exposure settings. Take a look!
To use the cube in post-processing, all the photographer needs to do is import the photos to an editing software (I used Lightroom) and click on the gray part of the cube with the color picker and white balance off of that. You can also use the cube to see the black and white RGB percentages. This percentage can be found in the top right corner of Lightroom by the histogram. This will help users adjust their contrast as well as exposure settings. Pretty simple, right? After you do that, just copy and paste settings to the rest of your images (that are in the same lighting).
To use the SpyderCHECKR24, it takes a little more time, but is easy with the easy-to-use software that comes with the product. With that software, you can create HSL presets (Hue, Saturation, and Luminance) that can later be used to adjust your photo’s HSL.
So why does this all matter? Because white balance is important in photography and videography! We may not see the subtle differences, but when doing commercial photography and doing portraiture, you want to be sure the colors are as accurate as possible! These two tools combined can help any photographer or videographer (from beginner to expert) white balance and correct color in their images.
Check out this video from Datacolor that really gets down to how the SpderCheckr 24 works and integrates into your workflow!