In Photography

6 Tips for Using a Gray Card for White Balance

These gray card tips are essential if you love perfect white balance and less time in post processing.

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6 Gray Card Tips

What is a Gray Card?

A gray card is a small rectangular card that is colored neutral gray. It is used to get an accurate white balance in camera. When used in combination with exposure, it can make your images the correct white balance every time. That means no more yellow or blue photos. Skin will be skin colored and whites will look white. Sounds awesome, right?!

6 Gray Card Tips

  1. Get a Good Gray Card: There are tons of different options, but not all are created equal, unfortunately. Choose a gray card from a reputable company. I personally like X-rite Mini Gray Balance Card and WhiBal Neutral White Balance Card. I also have the X-rite Color Checker Passport. The companies check them for accuracy. The are a tad more pricey, but its worth it in the long run. I also have an Opteka gray card. It isn’t the best. The color is more greenish than the other gray cards I own, and I find that my images take on a magenta hue. Yuck. Correcting tints in post processing is a nightmare.
  2. Keep Your Gray Card Covered: Over time, a gray card can fade or get dirty. This can alter the custom white balance in your photos. Some come with cases. If not, grab a black envelope or bag to place it in to keep it clean and away from light.
  3. Replace Every 2 Years: A pain, right? I think I lose mine around this time frame, ha!  I do have one that I’ve used for years, and it has been colored on (thanks kid #3) and it doesn’t produce the best white balance anymore.
  4. Keep It In Your Shooting Bag! What use is a gray card if you don’t have it with you. I love the pocket sized ones so that I can bring it with me anywhere.
  5. Use it for Exposure! The gray card isn’t just about white balance. It is just as easily used for checking your exposure. Make it part of your routine.
  6. Use Your Gray Card for Post Processing: In Lightroom, you can put your white balance dropper on a photo of your gray card, then sync the images in the same light. Instant perfect white balance!

Do you have any tips you would like to add? Please feel free to comment! I’d love to hear from you! 

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