Embarrassing confession: I have never used a grey card. Please don't laugh.

Discussion in 'Exposure Discussion' started by Holly, Aug 28, 2011.

  1. Holly

    Holly Member

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    Hi guys
    I need to get a grey card in my life somehow - I'm not a novice, I just never got around to buying one and using it - because I want to move into LF and scanning more and it will be a nightmare trying to digitally print from negs without some kind of white balance control going on.

    What's the best A. way to use a grey card for the purpose of shooting and scanning, then digitally outputting, and B. grey card to get?

    I'm so ashamed not to have more knowledge on this, I've only ever understood the use of grey cards in theory and not ever actually put one to use in my work.
    Will it change my life ?
    Do I need one ?
    I am presuming Yes!

    cheers
     
  2. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    I have never used a gray card in over 50 years of photography. I guess that I have another 50 years to learn, if I need to.
     
  3. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    Holly

    You don't need anything fancy, I use my hand held light meter and my hand. Gives me a skin tone, black, white, and grey.

    Makes life easy for me with the color meter in the darkroom, makes life easy for my lab.

    Kodak cards are available and work just fine.

    If you want something fancier you might ask at a site that does digital.
     
  4. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Member

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    I only have ever used a grey card to help seeing the subject in terms of grey shades. Whatever EV is indicated metering the grey card will give the same shade of grey in any area of the subject with a similar reading. But seldom have I even done that. Don't feel the need to use a grey card. Just work at exposure. And if a grey card fits your scheme then go for it.
     
  5. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    I have one, but generally only use it nowdays for meter testing and comparisons. In situations where I might use a grey card for shooting I use an incident light meter reading, which more or less amounts to the same thing as a reflective reading off a grey card.

    Way back when, I would include one in a test shot on color film so that the printer had a known target for determining the filter pack for the "real" shots.

    As for it's use in a hybrid process, that's OT here, but I've never seen the need, especially for b&w.

    They can be handy, but aren't essential for most purposes.
     
  6. cowanw

    cowanw Member

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    I found it useful to help me see a grey in the subject and then in the negative and print to start with, as a learning tool.
    Also it is useful for a reflective ttl surface to meter off of. say with a Horseman 4x5 meter.
    It can be a standard subject refective surface to help you understand the concepts.
     
  7. BillBingham2

    BillBingham2 Member

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    I use an indecent light meter anywhere I would use a grey card. You might use out in a test shot for exposure, out would give you a good relative point to meter to, scan to, and print to. 18% grey is the same on all three.

    B2
     
  8. Leigh B

    Leigh B Member

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    I have always carried a gray card in my kit; almost never take it out.

    I only shoot black&white now, so white balance is not a concern. I use incident readings for exposure.

    You certainly can use a gray card for white balance. Just put it at a convenient place in the scene.

    When used for exposure, the card should be angled midway between the light source and the camera.

    That would also work for white balance, but the position is not critical.

    - Leigh
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 29, 2011
  9. michaelbsc

    michaelbsc Member

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    So do you think we should shoot you at dawn? Or just flog you in the public square?

    Sometimes I don't even use a meter.
     
  10. M.A.Longmore

    M.A.Longmore Subscriber

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    .
    A Few Hours In The Pillory, Should Be Sufficient ...

    Ron
    .
     
  11. Bob-D659

    Bob-D659 Member

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    How about 30 days minimum 200 images per day half are action shots, with a p&s digi, no optical viewfinder and with a 4-5 second shutter lag. :smile:
     
  12. michaelbsc

    michaelbsc Member

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    Where are you from? In the US we have laws forbidding cruel and unusual punishment.
     
  13. michaelbsc

    michaelbsc Member

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    Let me make a suggestion before we really derail into insanity.

    A gray card is a tool, nothing more and nothing less. It is not a magic wand.

    If you have a particular problem with your work, then look for a solution to that problem. And *IF* the solution looks like it might be a gray card, then by all means get a gray card and start learning to use it.

    But do not get a solution and then start looking for a problem in your work to solve with that solution.

    That isn't to say that a gray card may not be just the thing you need. But you haven't said why you think you need a gray card, and now all these old guys like me are making jokes about it.

    But again, don't fall in the trap of seizing a solution then trying to find a problem to fit it. First try to identify what area you need/want to improve, then look for the tool to do that. And if coming to understand and utilize a gray card for critical exposure control is part of that solution, then jump all over the gray card.

    But a gray card is not a magic wand. Don't dismiss it, but don't put too much value in it either.

    MB
     
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  15. Bob-D659

    Bob-D659 Member

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    Yes, on second thoughts, you could be right, maybe just one day. :wink:

    On third thought, a few hours in the pillory may not be that bad after all. :smile:

    Awww, he's been punished enough already. How about we reserve the 30 days for the next digi snapper who declares film is dead. :D :D :D :D :D
     
  16. marco.taje

    marco.taje Member

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  17. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    The only time I have used a gray card in my 45+ years behind a lens was when I worked for Olan Mills Inc. Company policy was shooting a gray card first shot of the day, once mid-day and last shot of the day. Also had to shoot one whenever I changed rolls of film. That was for the processor's use not mine, so the color balance was always near perfect as they could get. I tossed out my gray card when I left them. If you need a subject that renders middle gray for B&W, meter off the lawn(middle gray) or your hand and add one stop(unless you're an albino, then add 2 or 3).
     
  18. JMC1969

    JMC1969 Subscriber

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    @Holly (OP), If you are solid on your shooting, I would stick with that. If you are scanning on a flatbed scanner, I would suggest a grey scale to be scanned w/ it in the same pass.

    Like one of these: http://www.adorama.com/KKQ13.html, http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=&N=0&A=endecaSearch&InitialSearch=yes&Q=&Ntt=Kodak+Grey+Scale

    The patch marked w/ the "M" is .70 density and is the closest (if not right on) 18% grey. Make your adjustments to your scan and then crop out the scale for output. Or the Gretag marco.taje suggested if you care to spend the extra. They are quality.

    It's never going to be perfect, it's digital. Your scanner has a color profile, so does your monitor, so does the printer you plan to use and each web site has it's own way of rendering images. It's close to impossible to get everything to match. Here is an example of a scanned negative. Open the image that is an attachment (it should open in a new window) then look at the two photos side by side. The attachment is a direct upload to APUG. The "inserted" image is the exact same file uploaded to Photobucket and then linked to this thread. Not only are the tones different, the direct uploaded one is sharper than the linked one.

    [​IMG]

    Just my 2 cents, good luck,
    Jody
     

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  19. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    Does this result in an indecent exposure? (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

    Lee
     
  20. vpwphoto

    vpwphoto Member

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    I did some of my best work with those Kodak Note things you used to get with film... and guessing!!
    otherwise Minolta Flash meter IV... no grey card here either.
     
  21. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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  22. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

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    Steve:

    I'll be happy if I can lift one in 50 years, much less use it. :laugh:
     
  23. Maris

    Maris Member

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    I've used grey cards hundreds of times with my spot-meter to identify and fix a mid grey value in complex subject matter. But it has been a frustrating process easily subject to error.

    The problem comes from the fact that grey cards are not perfect Lambertian reflectors. The"greyness" varies with the angle of the card versus the angle of the light versus the angle of the meter. In practice I'd select a meter reading when the card showed minimal glare and no shadow; concientious guesswork in effect. A good incident light meter is better.
     
  24. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Ok all siriusness aside, when I am shooting black & white I have several ways that I may use to determine the exposure, in most used to least used:

    • General light reading without metering the sky
    • Pick out what I want to be the middle gray in the print
    • Take a general light reading without metering the sky, the brightest that I want to be zone 7 or 8, the darkest reading that I want to show the tones [zone 2 or 3] and then determine the exposure. I use this when the subject brightness range is large
    When I am shooting C-41 I have several ways that I may use to determine the exposure, in most used to least used:

    • General light reading without metering the sky
    • Pick out what I want to be the middle gray equivalent in the print
    • Take a general light reading without metering the sky, the brightest that I want to be zone 7 or 8, the darkest reading that I want to show the tones [zone 2 or 3] and then determine the exposure. I use this when the subject brightness range is large
    When I am shooting slides I have several ways that I may use to determine the exposure, in most used to least used:

    • General light reading without metering the sky
    Back to being just plain sirius.
     
  25. Leigh B

    Leigh B Member

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    I don't understand "... without metering the sky". :confused:

    An incident light meter has an acceptance angle of 180°.

    The only way you could exclude the sky from the measurement would be to point the meter at the ground.

    Since the sky is a major source of illumination for the (outdoor) subject, excluding it from the measurement will give a significantly erroneous reading.

    - Leigh
     
  26. michaelbsc

    michaelbsc Member

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    @Holly. Bet you never expected to stir up this hornet's nest did you?