Setting White Balance with a Grey Card

camjam

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The Grey Card I ordered arrived last yesterday. Set the camera up with a new white balance setting using the card and took several pictures. I do not have calibrated monitors, but on my laptop and my external monitor I see a blue cast. For those of you with calibrated monitors, is there a blue cast? And is this normal when there is natural light source? I have created a custom white balance setting using a plain white paper before and had better color.

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tirediron

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Not on a calibrated monitor, but I see a very strong blue cast. How did you set the custom WB? A grey card is really meant for exposure.
 
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camjam

camjam

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"A grey card is really meant for exposure." Okay, now I am really confused. Thought the grey card could be used to set white balance. Even the manual that came with the camera says use a white or grey card. Camera is a D90, set the WB to PRE, took a picture of the card, went into the WB menu and selected the new WB setting. Please help me understand the uses of the different color cards and white balance and exposure?
 

iresq

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I was always under the impression the grey card was for exposure, white card was for balance. When setting custom white balance, you are showing the camera what white is.
 

NickA

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I thought you set the balance with a white card. If you can't get it with a white card, then there is a special gray card to use. But I've always had the best luck with a white card.
 

KmH

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Big Mike

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Yes, you can use a grey card to set your white balance....the reason is that it's color neutral. You could essentially use anything that is color neutral.

There is a proper way to set your custom WB though, and I think maybe that's where you messed up. You need to put the card in the same light that you'll be shooting in (or that you'll have in your photo). Then take a photo of the card. Then go into the menu and set the custom WB using that image.

In this example, you have a lot of light coming in via some windows. It's uncertain what type/color of light is illuminating the dog. I'd guess that when you took the sample photo of the grey card, you didn't have it in the same light that is mostly influecnecing your image...so the results are not what you're expecting.

To this same point, if the dog is being lit by different light than what is in the room behind him, then you'll get a color cast to that room (or if the room was accurate, the dog would have a cast). In other words, it looks like you're trying to take a shot that has two very different light sources that don't have matching color temps...and that is always a recipe for disaster.

Lastly, make sure you are using the 'custom' (PRE) white balance setting, not the 'manual' WB setting. The manual setting is where you can dial in the specific color temperature. It's really only useful if you have a color meter (few do).
 
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camjam

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Okay, I think I am starting to understand. I can used the grey card before. To either get the color correct or close to correct before taking pictures or editing / processing photos after the photo is taken. But I need to watch my light sources if used before.

I want to set the WB before taking pictures as I am still trying to figure out the camera to get proper exposure settings. Big Mike, I used PRE and there were several light sources in the room (natural light coming from windows at each end of the room, TV behind the dog, an incandescent lamp in front of the dog and a sidelight in the door from the side. Okay, I was a just a touch excitable in wanting to play with my new toy.
 

Big Mike

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Okay, I think I am starting to understand. I can used the grey card before. To either get the color correct or close to correct before taking pictures or editing / processing photos after the photo is taken. But I need to watch my light sources if used before.
You need to watch your light sources at all times...whether you're doing your WB before or after. And if you are going to do it afterward, then you should be shooting in Raw.

I want to set the WB before taking pictures as I am still trying to figure out the camera to get proper exposure settings. Big Mike, I used PRE and there were several light sources in the room (natural light coming from windows at each end of the room, TV behind the dog, an incandescent lamp in front of the dog and a sidelight in the door from the side. Okay, I was a just a touch excitable in wanting to play with my new toy.
If you are going to set a custom WB, the key is that you take the sample shot in the same light (same position) as your subject will be. You can still run into problems with multiple light sources though...not much you can do it fix that, best to just avoid it.

Lastly, the process of choosing an image for setting a custom WB can be a bit confusing on some Nikon cameras. I don't recall the D90 specifically, but it might be similar to the D7000 where you have to go to where you can pick the image, choose it, then back on the previous screen, you have to choose 'Done', otherwise it doesn't register your choice.
Every time this comes up in one of my classes, someone gets confused with how it must be done in the menu etc.
 

ann

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nothing to do with wb, as the others have covered the subject. love the dog, blue or not. I had one years ago and they have such a lovely out look on life. :)
 
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camjam

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nothing to do with wb, as the others have covered the subject. love the dog, blue or not. I had one years ago and they have such a lovely out look on life. :)

They are a very unique breed and it takes a special person to appreciate them. I currently have three and the guy in the picture just turned 11. He's a great ambassador for the breed as he excels at everything you throw at him; show champion, multiple field titles, therapy dog.... I could go on and on about how special this guy is!
 
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camjam

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Big Mike, I am positive I have the procedure down correctly. I usually do before and after pictures when I change the white balance. On a few occasions I have notice changes in how my pictures as I move around the pool deck or change ends during a basketball game. I am getting better at making adjustments on the fly.
 

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