Thursday’s Special: Makeover

It’s been a while since I showcased one of my porcelain dolls.

Maybe you remember Estella from Dickens’s Great Expectations, the prettly little blond thing that broke Pip’s heart. In my previous posts of Estella I thought that the photos I had taken of her showed her in  a bad light, so I decided to give her a makeover.

Not long ago I purchased a gadget called SpyderCube which is supposed to help you get nicely exposed and nicely colour-balanced photographs in post-processing of raw images. It is a multi-sided contraption which allows special attention to highlights and shadows and contains more features for image control than a gray card or a white balance tool. The trick is to take a photo of the SpyderCube in the same lighting conditions that are used for the subject of your photo, to make necessary adjustment of parameters, to save it as a preset (I use Lightroom, but it may work with other applications as well) and to apply it to the photo of your subject.

I am enclosing my photo of the cube and Estella’s pictures before and after the SpyderCube treatment.




Does she look better? You’ll be the judge.



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71 thoughts on “Thursday’s Special: Makeover

  1. Your gadget looks daunting to a point-and-shoot photographer. However, it obviously works. The second Estelle is definitely my preference. I can see possibilities for spider cube to solve my problems with gleam on mushroom photos – if I’ve understood the technicalities.

    (I should’ve saved my last week’s photo to fit this week’s makeover idea! Bath tub to cafe lounge was an excellent makeover, if not a photographic one.)


  2. Oh yes, she looks much better in the second photo, great work!. The gadget works great. I noted you have Likes turned off, (or i missed the link) does that crop your site traffic a bit?


    • Hello John 🙂 Getting traffic is not my priority, in fact, I got rid of the “likes” to avoid unwanted traffic. However, I can see still them though they are not displayed on my page. To answer your question I did not notice that traffic has been cropped, but I do not pay much attention to stats. I appreciate your visit and comment 🙂


      • Interesting! I ask because a while back, WP had a major ‘Like Spam’ problem which seems to have subsided mostly.

        Hence, I struggled with keeping the Likes turned on.

        I made a point to call each one of them out by posting their user name and web address on each of my posts. When I did this, they would vanish from my site. Playing the game against them…


        • I’ve also turned off likes (in my main blog). Just like Paula I don’t know if it’s influenced my stats, but now I don’t feel like I “owe” someone a visit. A lot of the ‘like clicking’ is just about that: clicking like and moving on. People were clicking like even when it was obvious that they haven’t read my post (I remember writing a long article, posting it and then I received a like after literally two seconds). I prefer to receive comments and write comments

          It’s cool that you played the game against the spammers!


          • Does anyone know if there is a possibility to press UNLIKE on some comments. I am receiving a lot of likes on the comments I left to people, now I wonder and I need an option where I can click “unlike” on some of the comments I am receiving. There are really comments that make me feel bad and stupid… so stupid to have peple like that on my blog. It is not about you CG or the above person.


              • You have ticked it off and still you are receiving them? That means it is not working. I also have it ticked off, and they are “liking” them still. I would very much LIKE to be able to UNLIKE their comments. Sorry, I am having a really bad day.


  3. Agreed. You’d have to be bonkers not to think the second one an improvement. But am in some doubt about a thinggy with a shape to use on photos ! [grin]


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    • No, not at all 😀 They claim it should be easier, but it is more accurate than relying on my own perception. To be honest I have only used it twice. When I go out I forget to use it and then outside in the lighting conditions that are beyond my control and changing all the time it would be much work…. Thanks, Debbie 🙂


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  7. I’ve never heard of a SpyderCube, but I can see that it makes a big difference on the final result. On this particular subject I think that I prefer the warmer tones in the before picture, even if the after one is more correct and natural. But it’s always better to get the correct settings in the shot and then add warmer tones in the post-processing. So, to sum it up: very useful cube.


  8. I wouldn’t say better, but definitely more natural, which is very funny when it comes to the trouble you took to achieve that, Paula! She is one beautiful lady, nevertheless. I was waiting for another ‘doll’ post so I’m very happy 🙂
    Good music, of course!


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  10. Your recently obtained gadget sounds interesting, Paula, and I really like the “after” result. More natural I think, with a stronger feeling of reality, being present in the moment the photo has been taken.
    PS: Enjoyed the music…I always do on your posts… 🙂


    • I usually have problems getting the colours right in post-processing. The first Estella has a red glow about her. This helped me get it right 🙂 I am happy to see you again, Ese. The music is from Nip/tuck tv show 😉


      • Yes, the red-ish glow does change not only Estella but also the whole feeling about the photo. Reminds me of the time when, taking photos of children, had to be aware of absence of any colour glows in general – especially vital with the blond ones. 🙂
        It is always wonderful to be back and enjoy your original perception of life and things around. I have been meaning to write once again (since after I had finished and posted it the first time, WordPress had played some trick and the comment had disappeared) a comment about your absolutely fascinating “The Spirit of Wisdom” post before you left for holidays… My first impression was a very strong, indescribable presence of the times of Musketeers from Duma’ s novels. Very beautiful, classy, yet adventurous. 🙂


        • This is a very interesting and amusing analogy for me, Ese. You have made me smile. I guess the three matches reminded you of swords 😀 Much obliged for your nice words 🙂


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  12. Had never heard of the gadget Paula…..there is a definite difference in the second image. A more even dispersion of light.
    Would never have guessed the lovely music was the score for a movie about plastic boobs!!! 😀


    • I agree with you about the light. I like that song, Madhu, and that tv series was a good drama. Plastic seems to be the main material of our era be it in our bodies (not that it is in mine or will ever be God forbid some accident), or in packaging, or even in our general attitude towards people and the world. It is becoming disposable….


  13. I’m sorry but I do not agree with any one who has already commented. I do not think the second looks better. I think she looks dull and not very well lit at all. The before shot is so much better, more colorful! If any thing you might have reduced the red saturation a bit but whatever you ended up doing made the image mediocre at best! Still, I enjoyed the discussion! **LIKE**


      • Paula,I received notice of this reply from bumbartusti to my comment above and was thinking about it all day. I think I have been insulted but I’m not sure. I came back to reply and realized that it was your post I had been responding to, not this unknown person’s- which now changes the entire obsessive/compulsive thing I was going through in my mind. Maybe I came off a bit pompous in my comment, but it was to you. There is a certain amount of familiarity between us, I think. And I hope you know I did not mean it in a mean way. But now I’m being called names and my “pictures”(bumbartusti says they are not photos) are being called into question. Then he/she ends the comment with “No hard feelings”? Are you serious? The feelings I have right now could put me away for a long, long time if I acted upon them. Good thing I’m a pacifist. And a vegetarian. Now that I’ve confessed that, my manhood will probably come into question too! Thanks for letting me vent. You can erase this if you like. I’m still not sure whether or not to reply to this person or not! e.p.


        • I am sorry it had such a strong impact on you. I did not like your comment Emilio, but I did not erase it as you are entitled to your own opinion and taste. It is your prerogative. I have a policy of my own. I am very careful not to hurt anyone’s feelings when I visit other blogs and I restrain myself from criticism – and I don’t do it to be popular or liked, I do it cause I don’t see any point in offending someone or making them feel bad. Your comment did not offend me, but I did not think much of it either.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I guess you learn something new every day. About yourself, I mean. I understand what you are saying and, again, apologize. I was wrong. If I would not say something to someone face to face, why would I say it in this venue? I felt, at first, like I was the wronged person here but now feel as if the criticism was justified. I will have to adopt your policy and restrain from criticism in the future.Again, I did not mean to offend you or make you feel bad. I was being pompous, cocky, and an ass.


    • Hi Emilio!!

      I don’t comment often, but your comment just forced me to do so.
      My first thought was “oh well everyone is entitled to their opinion”, but then I wasted some more time thinking about your comment and I said to myself “He totally missed the point of this post”
      This short article was to demonstrate how to get correct colors, white balance and exposure by using a small device called Spider CUBE by datacolor prior to editing.
      Then your second sentence especially the words “more colorful!” got me thinking “what’s wrong here” and I decided to have a look at what is going on on your site, what kind of photographs you are producing. After a few clicks of the mouse I was enlightened and I understood the core of your comment.
      I said to myself “Ah, another nuclear Joe”. This is the comment that I use to describe pictures that look like there is ATOMIC-BOMB going off in near proximity or if pictures look like scenes from some third rate post apocalyptic film. Do not get me wrong I’m not a critic, but for me more natural look is more pleasing. I hate when colors are screaming for attention, it is as if someone was using all capital letters in their post. All that screaming is ruining an interesting scene in your “pictures” (they are not photographs), IR look and nuclear sky in old gas station, cartoon look of screaming orange truck, lady liberty moments before being caught in nuclear blast or screaming yellow sands.
      Before you say something is wrong with my monitor settings I’ll correct you because my monitor is calibrated and I see colors as you intended us to see them.

      If you post process your pictures intentionally this way I’m sorry and the same rule applies to me “to each his own”, but in the future I would restrain myself from advising others on how to post process their images. We do not need another “Nuclear Joe/Jane” and there is only one Andy Warhol.

      If you are interested in getting better, more realistic photographs go to datacolor site (there is a free e-book) and read a bit about color management.

      This is my two cents.
      No hard feelings
      Best regards

      Liked by 1 person

      • Now, I really like the turn this discussion has taken. Thank you for taking time and looking at the other blogger’s site. I agree, everyone is entitled to their opinion and tastes, but they should be aware of that when going around and trying to impose their views and tastes on others. Your comment has made my day 🙂


    • Well the thing here is, using such a tool is about having a correct white balance. So it’s not about what you like better, it’s about the right white balance as a start. Then you can edit your colours (and no longer the color temperature) and any other kind of Brightness/Contrast to get your desired results.


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