Photography News Issue 31

Photography News | Issue 31 |

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Colour calibration

What you see is what you get Controlling image colour and contrast is vital – and it doesn’t get much easier than when you’re using Datacolor’s Spyder range


Ever been faced with the problem of shooting the same subjects throughout the course of a day, and all the varied lighting conditions that the day can bring? Colour wise, you need to arrive at consistent end results, no matter what kit you’re using, but fortunately the guys at Datacolor can save you a lot of time and heartache doing it. The problem is never more obvious than when shooting a wedding. The bride and groom can have you shooting in any number of conditions: a poorly lit church with stained glass windows, candles and in the worse cases bar heaters; group scenes in the great outdoors where you’ll need to deal with whatever light is available; and finally the reception with a possible coup de grâce of an evening disco to complete the day’s lighting extravaganza. If you’re using multiple cameras and shooting video across those conditions then you’re giving yourself a potential nightmare; making sure everyone looks equally tanned in all shots and that the bride doesn’t look as though she’s had four changes of gown, from ivory to beige and back again. With so many variables it’d be nice to set some control over what you’re doing, allowing you to match different cameras, deliver a neutral white point for shots (where needed) and control contrast across your entire shoot. Fortunately that’s what Datacolor’s SpyderCHECKR and SpyderCUBE do best. Part of the Spyder range of calibration devices, they put you in the driving seat

from the first shot to the last whether it’s stills or video you’re shooting.

get the angle correct as conventional cards do. Simply pull it out of its bag, hang it in the scene or use a mini-tripod, shoot and away you go. Control the colour When you need to do more than simply set white-balance and control contrast for your shots, and instead control all the colours across your shoot’s spectrum, allowing you to get that dress, skin tone and any other important hues just right, then the SpyderCUBE’s big brother the SpyderCHECKR comes into its own. This multi-coloured target comes in a highly robust plastic case about the same shape and size as a tablet computer. Intentionally not as pocketable as the SpyderCUBE its fold-out design is ideal for shooting from a distance and in particular for group scenes. Controlling the retouch Once you’ve gone to the trouble of removing colour casts and linearising images so they appear to be in the same lighting conditions you’d be rather defeating the object if you started retouching and adjusting colours on a non-colour managed screen. Get yourself a Spyder5 screen calibrator to manage your screen colours and this won’t be a problem. This ultra-accurate device simply plugs into your computer’s USB sockets and allows you to calibrate connected screens by running the easy-to-use Mac or PC software. Once run you can retouch your

Control your capture The SpyderCUBE is a highly pocketable version of a grey card but avoids you having to worry about it becoming creased, stained and worthless when compared with conventional foldable cloth or paper cards. This little gem, as the name suggests, is cubic in shape and only about 4cm (not much more than an inch) in length per side and allows you to balance contrast for your shot like no other solution on the market. Despite its size the SpyderCUBE gives you larger blocks of grey to use as targets than most conventional cards, with two of the cube’s faces split between a 96% white and an 18% grey triangle. Provided you can see both of these two-toned sides when the cube is either hung or tripod mounted in the shot, you have a perfect target to set grey balance irrespective of the direction of any lighting or if it’s changing. Once you’ve shot the SpyderCUBE simply choose the lighter of these split sides to use in setting the grey balance and then use the black and white quarters to set your highlights to the 96% white and shadows to a 4% black. Any out-of-gamut scintillation (100% white and over) or 100% shadows should only appear on the ball atop the CUBE or in the hole at the centre of the black face, respectively. The pocketability of the SpyderCUBE means it’s always available to shoot with and doesn’t require a major feat of positioning to

Spyder5 screen calibrator

images safe in the knowledge that ‘what you see is what you get’ at least as far as colour is concerned. Working with soft proofing profiles from your print houses or output devices you’ll be in full control and able to see how your images will output on virtually any combination of paper, ink and printer. For full synchronisation, the SpyderCHECKR comes with plug-in software for most image capture solutions (eg. Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop and Hasselblad Phocus) and enables you to set up a calibration preset with the touch of a button to linearise all your shots. As the software knows what each colour swatch should be, it can instantly calculate calibration across the spectrum to remove casts and bring all colours into alignment in virtually any conditions. Don’t worry though, you don’t need to ask your brides, grooms or models to hold the SpyderCHECKR – as long as you shoot the target at some point in the same lighting conditions that any group of shots is taken in, you can apply the calibration to the whole group later on. For further information visit the website.

Get your colours sorted today!

Before SpyderCHECKR

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Above The SpyderCUBE is a portable, reliable way of calibrating your shoot and thanks to its design it’s easier to place in the scene and more durable than a conventional grey card.

After SpyderCHECKR

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