Approximating Grey Card

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by binglemybongle, Jan 22, 2007.

  1. binglemybongle

    binglemybongle TPF Noob!

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    Does/can anyone ever use something as an approximate "grey card"?

    I'm asking for situations such as if youre out and about and you want to be able to just walk down the street, be at an event, a gig, sports or whatever.

    Basically a situation where you don't have time to route in a bag for the card or don't have your bag at all. Or you have constantly changing light situations or constantly changing subjects.

    If you have your camera ready and you want to be able to catch somehting that wont be there 10 seconds later, does anyone use their hand or a grey stone wall etc?


    Does anyone have any suggestions?
     
  2. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    For exposure? No, I don't bother. For white balance? I just leave the camera on auto WB and change the WB in Photoshop later on if I feel it is necessary. Personally, I don't carry a gray card. I used to use one in the studio for some unusual flash shots but never in the field.
     
  3. ThomThomsk

    ThomThomsk TPF Noob!

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    The back of my hand is about a stop lighter than an 18% grey card, which can be useful (although not constant of course, due to tanning). Metering from grass has usually worked for me too.
     
  4. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    If it won't be there in 10 seconds...you may not have time to be getting a meter reading off of walls etc....that's when the camera's fancy computerized metering can be allowed to do it's job...assuming you are using a newer camera.

    You can use just about anything for approximating exposure...you just have to get good at knowing how reflective things are and how much to compensate the reading. Green grass is about the same as a grey card...as is lush green foliage. You don't need to find something that is just like a grey card though...for example, most people's palms are one stop brighter than mid grey...so meter your hand and open up one stop. Or meter something white, and open up 2 to 2.5 stops. Or meter something dark (less reflective) and then set a negative EC. Once you learn how to do it...it can be quite natural.

    Or, if you are shooting digital, you could just shoot and check the histogram, change the exposure if needed and shoot again.
     
  5. henryp

    henryp TPF Noob!

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    The palm of your hand is less variable than the back and is also approx one stop brighter than a grey card. Green grass (not the stuff I'm growing) works well too.
     
  6. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    Take the gray card outside, and see how the meter compares it to other things you might find more convenient to use. As people have said, you'll probably find that your hand is about 1 stop brighter than the gray card, and a healthy, green lawn is about middle gray. How many stops brighter or darker is your camera bag? Your pants? Your car? Etc... When all else fails, meter something black, and under expose 2 stops.

    If using a gray card for white balance, make sure it is color neutral. Many gray cards are only designed to be middle gray tonally, but aren't color neutral. Standard Kodak gray cards are not color neutral.
     
  7. binglemybongle

    binglemybongle TPF Noob!

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    You know, I never thought of doing that.

    How stupid am I???!!!!

    No need to cary on this thread with your views of how stupid i am!!!


    Thanks all.
     

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